How To Eliminate and Prevent Stinky Towels

posted by Andrea | 08/16/2019

stinky-towels

I absolutely cannot stand stinky (or even moderately bad smelling) towels, washcloths, or basically any other linen. It totally grosses me out and I actually feel less clean after using a foul-smelling towel or washcloth.

Can anyone relate?

Based on the number of email questions I get, I’m assuming stinky towels are a pet peeve (or at least mildly annoying) for many of you.

Thankfully, I’m a semi-obsessive towel washer with an acute sense of smell — so I have a BUNCH of ideas for those of you with not-so-nice smelling towels!

1. Wash them in hot bleach water multiple times.

We have all white towels in our house, so this is personally my go-to remedy for stinky towels and it has worked almost 100% of the time for me. Also, make sure you don’t over-fill the washing machine as the towels need LOTS of room to move around.

If the smell persists after one washing, just throw them in with more bleach and hot water again.

2. Soak and then wash in hot water and OxiClean.

I know many people don’t like using bleach — or can’t use bleach because they have a septic tank or use colored towels. In that case, use OxiClean and very hot water.

It’s best if you can let them soak for 15-20 minutes before washing.

Also, the hot water IS important… you will almost never be able to get the smell out if you use warm or cold water. Trust me!

3. Wash with baking soda and white vinegar.

If you prefer to go the all-natural route, try adding 1 cup of baking soda to your very hot water and then adding white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment (or to the rinse cycle).

This should work for mildly stinky towels but probably will not be 100% effective for the really stinky ones.

4. Dry in the sun.

Hot sunshine will help with the smell — but if it’s really bad, this alone probably won’t work.

Also, if you line dry your towels, they will not be soft and fluffy like they are out of the dryer. They will be very “crunchy” so you might want to use liquid fabric softener when washing them.

5. Throw them out.

No, I’m not being silly. I mean it!

If you’ve tried all the suggestions I’ve listed above and your towels are still stinky, it might be time to toss them and start over again. I once read that towels should last between 7-10 years — at which point you should look into replacing them.

So if you’ve been using your towels for more than 10 years and are having trouble getting that musty smell out, it might just be time to toss them. We’ve been using our current towels for about 6 years now and they are still going strong. I don’t anticipate needing to replace them in the next couple of years — but that’s probably because I’ve been pretty good about keeping them smelling nice (see below).

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If you’ve had stinky towels in the past and want to make sure the smell doesn’t come back, here are a few tips for keeping your towels smelling fresh and clean.

1. Let them dry fully between uses and before you toss them in the wash.

We hang our towels on pegs in our bathroom and make sure to let them dry fully before we use them again. I take one shower a day so one towel is fine for me — however Dave often takes a shower at night and in the morning, so he has 2 towels in rotation at all times. This way, they will both fully dry before he needs to use them again.

If they never fully dry, they will start smelling musty VERY quickly.

2. Change your towels regularly.

I admit that I’m somewhat crazy when it comes to washing and changing towels… but that’s because I simply cannot stand that stinky towel smell!

In our kitchen, we have one hand towel, one dish towel, one rag for washing the counters, and one rag for washing children. I switch all 4 of these out every single morning after they have been allowed to dry out over night. (Read more about my kitchen linens in this post.)

As I mentioned in this post, I switch out our bathroom hand towels every day or so, and our bath towels every 2 or 3 days before tossing them in the wash. We also use cloth napkins that I toss in the wash after a couple days or so (or whenever they need it).

By changing them regularly, we don’t end up with the musty smell of towels and rags that have transitioned from wet to dry too many times without being washed.

3. Wash them with hot water.

All of my solutions above for “de-stinking” your towels require hot water — and that’s because I personally have not seen (smelled) much success with washing our towels in warm or cold water.

I do realize hot water is more expensive and uses more energy — but I figure the few extra pennies each month are worth it to extend the life of our towels (which, as I’m sure you know, can be quite expensive!)

So there you have it… a few tips and suggestions that have personally worked for me. I’d love to hear any other methods you might have tried too.

How do you de-stink your towels??

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79 comments

  1. Emily V.

    08/18/2019

    A few years ago, I was looking at the Borax used for slime. Once a month or so I put a bit of it in my towel load. It’s not just for slime in my house! 1/4 of a cup with the detergent (I use powdered detergent so I put it in with my clothes), and I haven’t had stinky towels in a few years.

    We live in Cincinnati, and there’s a lot of humidity, so towels don’t always dry in the house.

    Our front loader washing machine was stinky too, so I contacted the manufacturer about it. They said to wipe the seal with 4 parts water to 1 part bleach solution, and to run an empty hot load with 1/4 c. Lime Away instead of detergent. This might just be for our hard water, but it helped.

    Just a few ideas!

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  2. M

    08/17/2019

    If you dispose of your towels, please remember that local animal control centers and animal shelters can always use old towels.

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    Andrea Reply:

    good suggestion!

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  3. Sun

    08/16/2019

    I’ve never had the stinky towel problem with any washing machine, and I’ve done laundry since I was 8. So I was thinking about why that is the case. I think main thing is just being really careful about allowing the towel to dry, like you said. I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle now, and wash frequently, but I didn’t do that in college when I only did laundry every 4 days or sometimes only weekly. I just made sure they were hung up carefully to dry, and in college we always had a fan on which helped for those 2 showers a day. I have almost always washed in cold water. The other key is never using dryer sheets or fabric softener as that coats the towels. (Vinegar is my softener.) So the only consistent thing is allowing them to dry well. I thought it was worth a mention for those who cannot wash more often or use hot water.

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  4. Carol Lorette

    08/16/2019

    I have something to point out for those that use fabric softener or dryer sheets. Take out the screen in your dryer and put water in it to see if there is a build up of fabric softener on it. This could be the cause of towels taking a long time to dry.

    If the screen doesn’t let water through it won’t let air through either. Take the screen out and wash it and then rinse it good and while checking if it holds water.

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    Andrea Reply:

    this is such an excellent tip! Thanks so much Carol!

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  5. Audrey

    08/16/2019

    How do you soak your towels if you have a front-loading machine? I don’t have a sink to soak them in and the bathtub is on a separate floor.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I personally do not soak them right now (but I hope to get a top loading machine soon).
    That said, in our old house, I DID soak them in our top-loader, and if I really want to soak something now, I just do it in the kitchen sink

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  6. Liz C

    08/16/2019

    Huge YES on your techniques! Being able to let the towels air and dry is so key. I do have a regular replacement rotation on towels and washcloths, too… every other year, or when things get tatty looking, I’ll replace two towels a month (I buy $3 towels) for six months, and rotate the tatty ones out to beach or shop use. It’s a very lovely working class luxury!

    If you’re drying on a line, and don’t like the scratchy-towel results, toss them in a hot dryer for about 5 minutes to tumble them soft before folding.

    I run my towels last, so all the de-contamination options are also cleaning the washing machine at the same time; I then leave the lid open, and don’t get a musty machine OR musty towels.

    We once stayed at a hotel at the beach precisely because they advertised the cleanest, freshest towels on the coast… and they were right. Fresh clean towels are a delight.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — that’s so funny that you planned your vacation around the towels! LOL
    And yes, we often wash our towels last for the reasons you mentioned!
    Also, where do you find any sort of quality towels for $3?? I’d love to know your secret!

    [Reply]

    Cheryl Reply:

    Andrea,
    Kohls and JCPenney often have towels on sale for $3. The only thing I have found, is that it is good to stitch over the hems since they seem to unravel rather quickly. other than that they have been nice quality.

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  7. Avia

    08/16/2019

    I’ve always been a little mystified when this subject comes up because, for the most part, I’ve never had trouble with stinky towels. I wonder if it’s because I live in a dry, desert climate. Mildew in general is not usually a huge problem. I do always let my towels hang dry in between uses and fully dry in the dryer. But I don’t use anything to wash them other than regular detergent and either warm or hot water.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I do think it might have something to do with the fact that you live in a dry climate. It’s SUPER humid in Michigan, so if the AC is not on, things just don’t dry out in the summer.

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  8. Mary

    08/16/2019

    I’m sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of the builder or previous owner but the heat/AC vent is right beneath the bath towel bar in our master bathroom. I think that helps immensely. Spring and fall when neither heat or AC are running, the towels don’t dry out nearly as fast and are more likely to get funky.

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    Andrea Reply:

    this comment made me smile because we have the same thing in our bathroom! The vent is right below where we hang our hand towel and as long as the heat or AC is turned on, the towels dry SO quickly!

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    Liane Reply:

    Our bathrooms (2) both have a wall register right under the towel bar. Of course this time of year (high 90s to low 100s) means cold air, not hot. This heat placement does help in the winter. But look — it’s two of us. We shower daily. We fold the towels in thirds to hang them ‘pretty’ and they are very heavy Madison Park brand (gifted from a Bed Bath Beyond employee, otherwise I’d never buy them as they are close to $100 a set) and we swap them once a week. That’s it! Never get the sour smell. I wash with Tide pods (the unscented Tide Free) and I use Downy natural plant based, not tallow based. It takes them an hour to dry — about the same as heavy jeans — maybe a little less when it’s 100° in the garage. And a LOT longer if it’s 40°. I always always always let them cool down on the bed before folding to make sure every last molecule of water is gone.

    As for color, we have city well water. It’s loaded with chloramines and chlorine and iron. Our water is so bad we had to get rid of our pool. If we lowered the pH to a proper level we’d get crusty yellow white precipitate at the water line. The tap water pH is 8!!!!! What the iron does if I use bleach is horrible — everything turns yellow. So we never ever bleach our white socks and sheets except to use an oxygen based bleach and for towels we won by getting a wheat color. Not ecru, more a taupe. They don’t bleach well of course.

    Things I never do:
    wash in hot. It shrinks and fades.
    skip softener and dryer sheet (latter gets dog hair off)
    combine towels with any clothing since it causes pilling through abrasive action by the towel
    use vinegar because it literally gags me and because it is a mild acid and can contribute to salt precipitation

    I know lots of people like baking soda and vinegar mixes but anyone who took high school chemistry knows that that makes water and salt! And we already have waaaay too much salts in our tap water.

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  9. Ashley

    08/16/2019

    After hearing so many different things, I’ve truly come to believe this is an issue of using fabric softener on towels! This product actually coats the fibers and will cause them to repel water. So when you go to wash them, the washing effect isn’t getting down into the absorbent fibers of the towel but just “washing” the outer most layers. I’ve not had a stinky towel in over a decade since I stopped using softener!

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    Michelle Reply:

    Exactly!! I came to the comment section to suggest eliminating fabric softener.

    My husband and I have been using the same sets of towels for 6+ years and I wash mine in hot water (sometimes the sanitize cycle) and use vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. Also…on occasion…I’ll just use baking soda in place of detergent.

    I’ve also not had a stinky towel since I’ve implemented this way of washing my towels.

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    Liz C Reply:

    I entirely agree—no fabric softeners = less long-term stink and better long-term absorbancy.

    Running “coated” linens and towels through a hot vinegar wash can strip off the coatings. Sometimes it needs two passes to really get them stripped clean.

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    Yvonne Reply:

    Agree with both of you. We use vinegar as a fabric softener … it also prevents static. Also do not use dryer sheets. Laundry comes out beautifully. For us the main key to fresh smelling lineens is to make very sure that they are completely dry … before folding and putting away, as well as not putting wet ones in the hamper where they would sit for a time.

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    Andrea Reply:

    you’re probably right!

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  10. Debby

    08/16/2019

    I love this post. I cannot stand stinky towels either. ohhhh it drives me insane. I wash in hot water and use oxi clean since we have colored towels. I did switch to all white towels in my kitchen a few years ago and wash and bleach them every wash. I also change out my dish towels and cloths every day. If I have had a busy day of cooking and cleaning in the kitchen I may switch them half way through the day.

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  11. Janet Hashley

    08/16/2019

    I tried the pegs/hooks to dry towels between usings. I found they did not dry as well. I now hang them out over a bar, rod, or even a hanger so they are spread out. This lets the air get to the whole towel. Seems like when I used a hook they got a smell after a couple days.

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    Barb Reply:

    Yes I agree. I think the towels need to be just one layer deep not folded or involves to dry quickly and thoroughly.

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    Barb Reply:

    *”in folds”

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, a bar is better for drying — however we did not have enough wall space anywhere in our bathroom for more than 1 bar — and we have 3-5 towels that need to be hung at all times.
    So the pegs work well enough for now. Sometimes we hang them over 2 pegs to spread things out a bit!

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  12. Margaret

    08/16/2019

    I think the drying is the key. I always dry both bath and kitchen linens completely between uses and before putting them in the bin. I always wash in cold, and line dry whenever possible. Never once had a problem–and a good thing, because that smell gags mr.

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  13. Rebecca G

    03/05/2019

    Oh, we struggled with this problem the minute we got a front-load washing machine (which we will NEVER buy again!) Never had any problems with a top-loader. After trying just about everything, we chucked all of the colored towels and went to all white, bleaching them every time. It was the only solution for us.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve heard lots of negative reviews of front-loaders. We have one (it was here when we bought our house) and I guess I would prefer the top-loading if I had a choice, but I didn’t think that’s what would cause stinky towels. That’s interesting… I’ll have to look into this more!

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    Michelle Reply:

    I have a front loader washer and I haven’t had a problem with stinky towel…or a stinky washer either.

    My washer has a magnet on the door to keep it from swinging wide open but leaves it open enough for air to get to it so it doesn’t build up mold and bacterial which causes the laundry to develop an odor. I have to let others who use my washer know this because everyone likes to shut the door tight when they take clothes out.

    You can purchase packets of washing machine cleaner (like the ones for dishwashers) that is supposed to clean out gunk that may be causing odors as well.

    That being said I love my front loader and would recommend it to anyone looking to purchase a new washer.

    Just curious….what’s your reason for prefering the top-loading style? My last one was a top loader–low water usage, without the tall agitator and I had nothing but trouble with it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m sure I’ll be talking about this more whenever we get around to finishing our laundry room renovation — and of course, it depends on the brand of washers and dryers you have too.
    In my experience with top loaders and front loaders, my preference is always top loaders. I haven’t really had much “trouble” with the front loader — I just don’t like it. I don’t like needing to bend down to pull clothes out (and then have them fall on the floor). I don’t like that I can’t add something after the load starts. I don’t like that I can’t let things “soak” for a bit, etc. etc. Just my preference!

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    Sun Reply:

    I have a front loader too and won’t have one again because mold will grow in the gasket if it isn’t dried out after every wash.

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    Liane Reply:

    Rebecca, we have a front loader too. It’s a very very pricey piece of junk. It’s Kenmore made by Bosch. I could write a book on things I hate about this starting with number one on the list: it won’t die. It’s 20 yrs old and still going strong.

    I don’t have a gasket issue or mildew issue like my SIL had with her first gen Maytag. What mine does is the spin cycle is terrible at extraction if I was any load larger than two bath towels or one bed’s worth of sheets. So I do literally two loads every single Monday-Saturday. For two people and nearly all my husband’s work wear goes to cleaners. His company is basically casual Friday every day so he wears a collared shirt and nice slacks like dockers or alfani and I cannot iron to get that crisp Macy’s ad model look. I pretty much dress the same except most of my tops are polyester or Pima blends and I do them on hand wash cycle.

    That said, even on high speed extended spin things come out way too wet. And I can’t soak either 🙁

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  14. Sun

    07/04/2016

    I’ve wondered why I don’t have stinky towels. I believe it is because I don’t put wet towels in the hamper, and instead do laundry nightly. I wash towels in cold and once in a while add white vinegar to the rinse. Another thing is that I don’t give mildewed things a chance. Once a child left a washcloth balled up in the bathtub for a couple days, and I threw it away rather than risk stinking up everything. I’m sure this is all because of the times I had funky kitchen cloths while learning…and boy did I learn! 😉 Now I find prevention is the way to go.

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  15. Shelley

    09/16/2015

    Hi Andrea, Do you use regular laundry detergent/soap to wash the towels? Which one do you use? I have a big issue now with my towels. Do you wash the kitchen towels with your body towels?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I use bleach for all my towels — and yes, I wash all towels together 🙂

    [Reply]

    Shelley Reply:

    Thanks for your quick reply Andrea. Only with Bleach? No additional detergent? Sorry I have soo many questions but I am going to throw all my towels out and buy new ones.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I use detergent too — but always bleach and HOT water.

    Also, sometimes it is just necessary to get new towels. They only last so long 🙂 Good luck!

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    Sun Reply:

    TJMaxx (Marshalls, and Ross etc) have really nice towels that last for low prices. Feel for the best quality and thickness you like. If your bathroom is damp and you don’t have room to spread out the towels, see if you can get used to “Turkish towels”. They are thin and get softer with use, and they are usually oversized so really nice to wrap up in, and they dry super fast. Most of our towels are thick, plush ones. We make sure to have at least 2 per person so the towels can be washed every couple days, and we dry them out well. If the weather is too humid, they get washed daily. I have a habit of washing a load of laundry every day anyway. Usually linens on their own days. I never use fabric softener or dryer sheets that coat the towels. Use white vinegar in the rinse water instead to soften and disinfect a bit.

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  16. Ava

    06/29/2015

    Can you share where you buy your Kitchen towels from? I’m on the hunt for good white hand towels

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    My white kitchen towels are still from our wedding registry (9 years ago)… and I believe they were from Bed, Bath, and Beyond

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    Ava Reply:

    Thanks!

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  17. Lori

    05/26/2015

    When I first got a front loading washer, I kept having trouble with funky towels. I tried everything and finally called the washer manufacturer. They told me that leftover soap causes the smell and told me to use half the amount of detergent and to use the extra water cycle with hot water. It worked!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    interesting… thanks for sharing Lori!

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    Sun Reply:

    And fabric softener. I use white vinegar instead of fabric softener & never use dryer sheets. They build up on clothes, and that is really bad for towels.

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  18. Laura Roberts

    10/06/2014

    That’s a really helpful blog ! I’ll check it regularly. I have two children and i have to wash the towels really often and I have that problem with the smell. I’ll try your advices and I hope they will reduce it.

    [Reply]

  19. Shelley

    08/20/2014

    Hi Andrea, my question is not specifically related to towels but it is somehow related. Sometimes the dish sponge get a stinky smell, and I really hate it. Any recommendation for it? What dish soap do you use?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Shelley,
    I actually use washable sponges and wash/bleach them after EVERY use! If you don’t have washable sponges, you can use this tip to sanitize them (although I’m not 100% positive it will remove the smell)

    [Reply]

    Shelley Reply:

    Thanks for your quick reply Andrea. I will try them. Do you hand wash them or just put it on the washer machine?

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    Christy Reply:

    I haven’t tried this but my aunt says she puts a little baking soda on the sponge. Puts the damp sponge on a plate and microwave sit for 1-2 minutes???

    I stopped using wash cloths or sponges because my husband and teens will not rinse out or just leave in the bottom of the sink. Now I buy these blue disposable rags in the cleaning isle. I cut them into fourths and use to wash dishes. And I use a scrub brush from Grove or a stainless steel scrubber. Also Mrs Meyer dish soap does not leave the mildew smell like blue dawn does

    [Reply]

    Christy Reply:

    Put your dish sponge in the top rack of the dishwasher.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup, this is a great idea!

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  20. Alissia Haig

    08/16/2014

    I do not have white towels…..BUT! I use a tiny splash of bleach with each load of towels. Makes a HUGE difference in the freshness factor! As long as you add the bleach into the tub as it fills, and then add towels once there is a good amount of water in the washer, then you do not need to worry about bleach “spots” or bleaching. Our towels are a dark (chocolate) brown & still as bright as the day we got them. Its the one trick I have found that makes the towels smell fresh, ever after a couple uses 🙂

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  21. Leanne

    08/16/2014

    FYI– if you or someone in your family has allergies, you should run your towels in the dryer on hot for 15 minutes or so, even if they are line dried… otherwise, you bring the pollens in the house AND you rub them all over your body—
    I’ve also heard NOT to use fabric softener on towels… it shortens their “shelf life” ( 🙂 ) and ability to dry properly….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh, good point — we don’t have allergies so I never thought about the allergy factor!

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  22. Jill

    08/16/2014

    I try not to use bleach since it is has so many negative effects on the environment. I have found that my washer has a deep clean/ sanitize setting that does the job for my funky towels. Yes I know using super hot water on a prolonged cycle isn’t great for the environment either, but it seem like the less of two evils lol

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  23. Carrie

    08/16/2014

    I microwave my kitchen towels and washcloths while they are damp then wash as usual. This eliminates the odor and germs

    [Reply]

    BB Reply:

    Yes this works for me too. Microwaving stinky ones can smell horrible but in five minutes the smell is gone. The microwave kills the bacteria.

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  24. robbie @ going green mama

    08/16/2014

    If I have stinky towels or sick people at home I will add a drop or two of On Guard essential oil blend in my wash. Seems to help!

    [Reply]

  25. Eveline

    08/16/2014

    As I am reading this, I start to think. I see lots of tips etc on pinterest on how to get rid of mildewsmell etc. It makes me wonder if there is something different we do here in the Netherlands because smelly towels are not common here. I have had them once or twice but that was because I forgot to take them out of the washer (after a day or 2 or so) and once when I found one on the bottom of the bag we use for going to the beach. It had been sitting there wet for I don’t know how long.
    Is it the type of washer we use here? (mostly frontloaders) The type of detergend? Or the fabricsoftner (I once heard from a dryer mechanic that softner is very bad for your dryer, so I use a bit of vinager as softner in steat of fabricsoftner) plus I heard that the fabricsoftner coats the fabric with a fatty layer that builds up and prevents the fabric of getting really clean…
    And we dry our laundry outside most of the time. Maybe that is the clou…
    I don’t know, but it does intrige me!
    Best regards!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s crazy — but i’m guessing you don’t have an issue since you dry your towels outside. I think the hot sun and fresh air help a lot!

    [Reply]

    Eveline Reply:

    Well, I am one of those people who uses the dryer for towel because I like them soft… Towels, underware and socks are the only thing that go in the dryer on a regular basis. (because I hate hanging all that little socks and undies (3 an 6 year old child). So that is not the difference…
    So I am very curious what makes the differance!

    [Reply]

    Margarita Reply:

    We lived in AZ for the last 2 years and just returned to Germany. I think the main thing is that American washers on “hot” just do not reach temperatures over 60C during the cycle. We wash our underwear, towels and everything white cotton with over 75C (or even 90, which is close to boiling). The few times I’ve had smell issues on clothes, I boil some water and pour it over the item right away, with a little bit of my normal washing powder, and let it soak for 1h or so. It always works!

    [Reply]

  26. Georgia Bud-Rog

    08/15/2014

    I soak them in hottest water in my top loading machine with ammonia and detergent for about 15-20 minutes. I also love all white towels, I bleach them every 2 or 3 times and never mix the bleach with the ammonia, that is right NEVER mix the two, it can be deadly. A hot dryer for cotton drys best. I also never use fabric softener as they are not as absorbent with its use. Plus the dryer makes them very soft if they are a good towel and are rinsed well. I always rinse twice.

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  27. Debby

    08/15/2014

    Hot water and vinegar. Also the vinegar helps keep the HE washers from getting gunk build up that leads to smells. Double action and natural. I buy vinegar by the gallons because I use it so many places in my house. Washer, dishwasher, sinks, garbage disposal, shower drains.

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  28. Jennifer P

    08/15/2014

    Another way to get rid of the musty smell is to run them through a full cycle with 1 to 1 1/2 cup white vinegar and hot water. Then run through a full cycle with 1/2 to 3/4 cup baking soda and hot water. Dry as usual in dryer or hang to dry. Works well if you have colored towels.

    [Reply]

  29. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    08/15/2014

    I used baking soda or OxiClean (for whites) and vinegar in the wash. I also hang them so that they are as spread out as possible (not bunched up) and wash them often. I think you are right about the hot water. My frugal side likes to do the wash in cold or warm, but hot really does help with the smell. Thanks for the reminder.

    [Reply]

  30. Liane

    08/15/2014

    I am not able to use bleach since I have colored towels, and I cannot use white towels since the water here combines with chlorine and turns all my whites rusty yellow color. I think it is due to minerals in the water. I also have a washer (expensive front loader that is supposed to save water) that frays the edges of my bath towels if I use the high speed spin setting. And all that combines to make for stinky towels also.

    The best solution for me was to buy detergent that claims to remove sweat and body odors from clothing. Two products work well for me: Whisk HE and Tide Sport HE. I tried Tide Ultra Stain Release recently since I had a $3 coupon and to my dismay it turned all the yellow deposits on white clothing blue. I won’t be using that on whites again, but it seems to work fairly well on the dark clothes and towels. My usual detergent is the free and clear version – no perfumes, no dyes. I use the Oxy-Clean powder which seems to help also.

    Doesn’t drying them on a fairly high temp help kill the mildew and whatnot? That is yet another bugaboo I face with my high priced laundry equipment. I have to run my towels through the drying cycle twice, 60 minutes each. I had Sears come check the drying temp and was told it is fine. The only tip the technician offered was, spin them longer. I decided that I would take fraying over smelling that awful smell on my skin! So with the longer spinning and the double bake cycle on the dryer, I think I can say I have beaten this issue.

    My next washer will definitely not be a front loader requiring HE detergent. I never had this issue with my old top loader, and since my drying times are longer and I have to use the extended spin cycle and hot water, my gas and electric and water bills are all impacted.

    [Reply]

    Trisha Reply:

    My son had this problem with their drier. Turns out the vent was plugged It has a long run to the outside. They have to have it cleaned every year to remove the lint

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  31. Aimee

    08/15/2014

    For towels, I agree with the build up of detergent. I will frequently “rinse” towels with vinegar through a whole cycle OR two! When I wash, I use Super Wash soda (that’s better than baking soda, but still a fairly “natural” way to get the stink out) or Oxiclean. Yes on the hot water and make sure they are really truly dried when they come out of the dryer. When I lived in San Diego, it was so moist from the sea air it was actually difficult to get towels fully dried after showers, and SOOOO annoying! I have a super sensitive sense of smell and it drove me nuts! Also in our old (1935) house in SD the closets had so much moisture in them all the clothes smelled funky, THAT was the worst!

    As for my dish towels, I knit wash cloths and soak them in boiling water and super wash soda before washing them. I use different ones daily, so I always have the tiniest load of kitchen towels. When the wash cloths are done-for, I can compost them, because they are 100% cotton.

    [Reply]

  32. Sadie

    08/15/2014

    Dry without dryer sheets. Dryer sheets add a layer that makes them hard to dry when used after a shower 🙂

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  33. Mama Murrey

    08/15/2014

    For stinky dish rags and wash cloths, I boil water on the stove and cook them for five minutes. They smell much better after this treatment. The water afterwards is really disgusting, even when I’m boiling rags and cloths that were clean. Makes me wonder what stays locked in the fibers, even when they’re put through the washer.

    [Reply]

  34. Michelle

    08/15/2014

    Thanks for the great tips. I do love some of my Norwex cloths, and they clean well, but they can and do get stinky sometimes too, even under proper care.

    [Reply]

    Rachael Reply:

    My Norwex cloths do too, Michelle!

    [Reply]

  35. Chalyse Meiklejohn

    08/15/2014

    Have you heard of Norwex? They make a whole line of cleaning products that don’t use chemicals, and one of their big products is the body towel! It is microfiber and has silver tightly woven in which is a natural antibacterial so it is self cleaning. It never gets stinky and if used properly, only needs to be washed every 3 weeks. I didn’t believe it until I went to a party last night. They have a kitchen cloth as well, which I used and LOVE! You NEVER use cleaning products or chemicals. The microfiber does all the cleaning. Then you rinse withhot water, hang to dry and it’s like a brand new cloth with no bacteria in it. Amazing! At the Norwex party they proved that you can clean up raw chicken off a counter with no chemicals and then use that cloth on different areas of your house without transferring the raw chicken because it gets embedded in the microfiber and stays there until you rinse with hot water and then it is self cleansing thanks to the antibacterial silver. So no more musty smelling kitchen rag now either! I swear I’m not a consultant lol but I did just have a party and I honestly thought about how much YOU would love this stuff! Green cleaning, no chemicals, lasts forever and saves so much money on cleaning products! http://www.norwex.biz/PublicStore/event/481213/default.aspx

    [Reply]

    Jill Reply:

    I super big love Norwex. Although I will say I find their facial towels and washclothes do get a funky smell. As do their Norwex cloths. You can boil them clean but if you don’t lay them absolutely flat to dry they start smelling funky after a bit.

    [Reply]

    Chalyse Meiklejohn Reply:

    Each Norwex cloth has a “hook” tag on it that you should use to hang it on a hook and as often as you can, let it air dry for 24 hours and then it’s like a new cloth. As long as you rinse with hot water, hang it by the tag on the cloth and let it air dry, it shouldn’t ever smell. 🙂

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  36. Stephanie

    08/15/2014

    It has been passed down in tradition to me that one should never use fabric softener with a load of towels because it prevents them from working properly. (Repels water rather than soaking)
    Also, last time I washed my towels I sent them through the wash cycle twice on hot without soap after my initial wash cycle. They had SO much soap in them still and I always used under the recommended amount of laundry detergent. My towels never smelled so fresh. Vinegar is always used for a rinse.
    Biz laundry stain remover has enzymes in it and works very well on removing body oils, etc. It is expensive butI feel worth it every now and then to get everything fresh.

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  37. Kathy Maguire

    08/15/2014

    For Montcalm county folks: If you are ready to toss the towels, sleeping bags, linens, comforter, blankets, or old pillows, please call Ralph Bain at 616-754-5253 or email ralph_bain@hotmail.com. They items can even be frayed and with holes. They will be used to make kennel pads for cat/dog rescue organizations.

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