Can You Bleach Microfiber Towels?

Microfiber towels have become extremely popular for cleaning and drying. Their ultra-fine fibers make them very effective at picking up dust, dirt, and moisture from surfaces.

Can You Bleach Microfiber Towels

However, many people wonder if you can bleach microfiber towels to sanitize them or remove stains, like you would with a regular cotton towel. The short answer is no, bleaching is not recommended for microfiber material.

Bleach can actually damage the microfibers and shorten the lifespan of your towels. There are better ways to clean microfiber towels to keep them fresh while preserving the integrity of the fibers.

Why You Should Not Bleach Microfiber Towels

Bleach contains harsh chemicals that break down fibers in fabric. The ingredients in bleach work to dissolve stains and disinfect surfaces.

While this can be useful for sturdy materials like cotton, it is too abrasive for delicate microfiber strands. Here’s why it’s best to avoid using bleach when cleaning microfiber towels:

Bleach Erodes the Fibers

The tiny split fibers that make up a microfiber towel rely on their structure to effectively clean and absorb liquids. When bleach comes into contact with these fibers it starts corroding and breaking them down.

Over time, the fibers will become damaged and fray. This means your once-plush microfiber towels become less effective at cleaning and holding moisture. Damaged microfibers also tend to lint and leave behind particles on surfaces.

Shortens Lifespan

With proper care, a quality microfiber towel can last up to 500 machine washes. That translates to a few years of use in most households.

However, exposing microfiber repeatedly to bleach can shorten that lifespan drastically. The harsh chemicals weaken strands so that the towels lose their cleaning power and absorbency faster.

You’ll end up having to replace bleach-damaged towels much sooner. It’s simply not worth it when there are gentler ways to clean microfiber.

Alters Colors

Have you ever had a vibrant red t-shirt fade to a dull pink after too many bleach-filled laundry cycles? The same concept applies to microfiber towels.

The oxidizing agents in bleach work to strip color pigment from fabric as they break down stains. Over time, even colorfast microfiber will show fading if bleached.

Best Practices for Laundering Microfiber Towels

Cleaning microfiber towels properly is simple once you know what to do, and what to avoid. Here are the golden rules for keeping them fresh and functional wash after wash:

Wash Separately

Launder microfiber towels in their own machine wash cycle, separate from other fabrics. The tiny strands will attract lint and debris from materials like cotton, which reduces their cleaning capabilities.

Washing alone also protects the fibers from being damaged if other garments have buttons, zippers, sequins, etc. Those small fasteners can snag the thin strands.

Use a Gentle Detergent

Skip the heavy duty detergents, bleaches, and fabric softeners when it comes to microfiber laundry. They all leave behind chemical residue that coats the towels’ fibers and makes them less effective.

Choose an additive-free liquid laundry detergent made for delicates or a plain, odorless dish soap instead. Only use about half the amount you normally would so there’s no soapy buildup left behind.

Wash in Cold Water

Heat is another factor that wears down microfiber fibers with repeated exposure. Use cold water for the wash and rinse cycles to prevent added damage each time you clean them.

Air Dry is Best

Tumble drying, especially on high heat, can degrade the fibers’ structure so they become matted and less plush. It’s best to simply hang your freshly washed microfiber towels and allow them to air dry fully instead.

Key Takeaway: Avoid bleach and other harsh detergents when cleaning microfiber towels. Use a delicate wash cycle in cold water and air dry for best results.

How to Remove Stains from Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels pick up all sorts of dirt, grime, makeup, bodily fluids, and more. So accidents are bound to happen, but there are still some chemical-free ways to tackle stained microfiber:

Club Soda

The bubbly treats stains the same way it does in clothing – by lifting the discoloration without damaging fabric. Pour a bit of club soda directly onto the stain. Let it fizz for a few minutes then blot up the moisture with a paper towel. Rinse clean.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Its oxidizing compounds break the chemical bonds in stains to remove them safely. Apply some hydrogen peroxide to the spot with a cotton pad. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing – stains should lift right out.

Dish Soap

For oil-based stains, dish soap is highly effective. Rub a few drops into the spot and let it penetrate for 5 minutes before washing as normal. The surfactants in dish soap cling to grease and draw out the oil.


The classic cleaning staple, white vinegar, also works to eliminate stains on microfiber towels before washing. Pour some vinegar directly onto the stain and let it soak in for 15-20 minutes. Then launder as usual. The acetic acid breaks down residue.


Bright sunshine acts as a natural bleaching agent to lift discoloration. If possible, lay your microfiber towel in direct sunlight for a few hours, periodically spraying the stain with water. The UV rays help break down pigment. Then launder as normal.

How to Sanitize Microfiber Towels Without Bleach

Even if you don’t see any visible stains, microfiber towels used for cleaning the bathroom or kitchen should regularly be disinfected. Here are some chemical-free ways to sanitize them:


One of the most reliable sanitization methods is heat. Wash microfiber towels in the hottest water recommended for the material – up to 140°F is typically safe. Then tumble dry on high heat for 30+ minutes. The prolonged heat kills bacteria, viruses, mold, etc.

Vinegar Soak

White vinegar is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. For a deeper clean, soak microfiber towels overnight in a mixture of 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly in the morning and launder as usual.


As mentioned before, the UV rays from direct sunlight have disinfecting abilities. Wet your microfiber towels then lay flat in the sun for 2-3 hours per side. For severe odor issues, consider doing this twice. Then wash normally.


Believe it or not, freezing can sanitize microfiber too. Place damp towels in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The extreme cold temperature kills germs and bacteria. Thaw and launder as usual. This method also helps remove odors.

Key Takeaway: There are several chemical-free ways to sanitize microfiber towels without bleach or other harsh detergents which damage fibers.

Alternative Cleaning Tools to Replace Bleach-Damaged Towels

If you’ve used bleach on your microfiber towels too many times and they are now falling apart, don’t throw them out just yet. Here are some alternative ways to repurpose bleach-damaged microfiber around your home:

Dusting Mitts

Cut holes for your hands in an old microfiber towel and slip on the DIY mitts to dust furniture, ceiling fans, baseboards, etc. The worn fibers will still attract dust better than traditional rags.

Car Wash Mitt

If you used your microfiber towels for auto detailing, turn them into wash mitts instead. Simply wear the weakened towel over your hand to scrub down dirty vehicles without worrying about snagging.

Wax Applicators

Bleach-damaged microfiber towels also work well for rubbing wax, polish, protectants onto car or boat surfaces. The frayed fibers allow product to spread evenly.


When microfiber towels become too far gone for any precision cleaning task, they can still be cut into squares and used as all-purpose rags for dirty garage or yard work. Toss them out when fully soiled rather than attempting to salvage in the laundry.

Key Takeaway: Bleach-damaged microfiber towels can be repurposed for dirty jobs before tossing them out completely. The worn fibers still pick up dust better than cotton rags.


Is it OK to use bleach occasionally on microfiber towels?

No, bleaching microfiber even occasionally still causes cumulative damage to the tiny fibers. They become frayed and less effective with each bleach exposure. It also shortens their lifespan drastically compared to never using bleach.

What about using bleach alternatives like oxygen bleach?

Bleach alternative detergents often still contain harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate that break down stains. It’s best to skip any type of bleach – even non-chlorine formulas. They can be too abrasive for delicate microfibers.

Can I soak microfiber towels in a diluted bleach solution to sanitize them?

It is not recommended. A bleach soak uses prolonged chemical exposure that allows ingredients time to really penetrate the fabric. This causes extensive weakening and corrosion of microfiber fibers despite being diluted.

How do I get bleach stains out of my microfiber towels?

First rinse the area well with cold water to dilute any remaining bleach concentration. Then soak the spot in a mixture of 2 tbsp baking soda and 1 cup vinegar. After soaking, rinse clean and wash alone in cold water with a gentle detergent. Avoid heat drying. The vinegar and baking soda help lift discoloration caused by bleach while the cold water wash prevents further damage to fibers.

Why can’t I use fabric softener on microfiber towels?

Many popular fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain wax, perfumes, or coatings that leave behind a thin film residue on fabric surfaces. This residue will cling to the fibers in microfiber towels and reduce their ability to absorb moisture and attract dirt. So skip the fragrant additives when washing and drying microfiber.


It’s tempting to use bleach when trying to remove stains from microfiber towels or sanitize them after heavy-duty cleaning. However, the truth is that bleach damages delicate microfibers with each exposure, degrading their performance and shortening lifespan prematurely.

Luckily, there are many chemical-free methods to clean and disinfect microfiber towels without compromising the integrity of those tiny fibers that make them so effective for cleaning. With proper care, a quality microfiber towel can last up to 500 machine washes and continue picking up dirt and grime better than cotton.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.