Soozie has written:
“I have bought some new tea towels and dish cloths.I washed them before use but they’re no good!!! When i try to clean up water with the dish cloths or wipe the dishes with the tea towels it’s like using a plastic bag. the material doesn’t absorb the moisture. In my Nana’s day she put something into the wash water (first wash) and it seemed to fix the problem and the material would then absorb water. Do you know what this was that Nana used to put into the first wash water”.
I think your Nana would have added white vinegar to the first wash of new tea towels. And she would have used hot water for that first wash.
I suggest you try washing your new tea towels and dish cloths in a hot wash with one cup of white vinegar.
It may take 2-3 washes as the cotton used in teatowels today is very different and much poorer quality material than the linen teatowels your Nana would have used.
Once you start using your teatowels don’t use fabric softener in the wash or rinse as the softener is silicon-based and leave s a film on the fabric so it doesn’t absorb water. You can continue to add vinegar to the rinse cycle to keep your teatowels soft .