How To Get The Smell Out Of Towels In 5 Simple Steps
Smelly towels is a common household complaint, and honestly theres nothing worse than getting out of a hot shower and drying off with a stinky towel!
For a while I just thought all towels eventually started to smell sour and that there wasnt really anything I could do to remedy the problem.
Eventually I got so fed up with the stink that I started doing some research and after several loads of trial and error, Ive come up with the best solution on how to get the smell out of towels, for good!
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I dofind that the drying time is a bit longer due to their thickness.
Dont Use Fabric Softener
Fabric softener is typically one of the biggest culprits for causing stinky bath towels. Fabric softener is actually an oil and used every wash, this creates quite a build up on your towels, which is where the stench comes from.
Skip the fabric softener altogether and instead opt for ½ cup to a full cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle.
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Why Do My Towels Smell So Bad
Essentially your smelly towel issue is likely a result of one of the following issues either youre not allowing the towel to fully dry when its wet, youve got quite a buildup of detergent and/or fabric softener in your towels, or youre leaving towels in your dryer for too long and humidity that comes in through the dryer vent is causing them to develop quite a funk.
Additionally, front load washers are notorious for mold and mildew growth, and if youre washing towels in a washer thats got mold growing they wont smell fresh, ever.
Youve got to kill the mold in your washer first, before attempting to get the smell out of towels.
Figuring out the root of your issue will help you correct the problem in the future.
For most people complaining about smelly towels the root issue is usually a combination of most of these common issues.
Tips For Keeping Them Fresh Smelling
- Always hang towels up to dry after using them
- Make sure towels are completely dry out of the dryer before folding and putting away
- Do not use fabric softener on towels, add white vinegar instead to prevent buildup
- Do not use too much laundry detergent when washing towels, make sure you are measuring accurately, especially with newer high-efficiency washing machines
Have you had your towels go smelly? Ive heard its more common on the east coast of the US where there is more humidity. Let me know if you have, and if so, where you live. Im curious if it happens in drier climates too!
You might also like these cleaning tips:
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Wash Your Clothes In A Cycle With Vinegar
Set the water temperature to the hottest setting on your machine. Spread the items out in the washing machine as evenly as possible and pour in 1 cup of white vinegar . The water in your machine wont necessarily get hot enough to sanitize your laundry, but the heat combined with the acetic acid in vinegar will help break up any grime or bacteria that has started growing, which will help rid your clothing of that funky musty smell.
What Can Be Done To Keep Clothes Fresher Longer
Theres many things you can do to keep clothes and towels fresher longer here are some quick tips:
- Stop using liquid detergent . Liquid detergent contributes to gunk in your front load washer and it also deposits more of build up on your clothes than powder.
- If you absolutely must use liquid detergent, use far less than what you were doing. HE detergent is very concentrated and you really dont need to use that much!
- Occasionally add in vinegar to your rinse cycle. I find this helps give my detergent a little boost!
- Quarterly add in 1/2 cup borax in place of detergent and add vinegar to the rinse cycle.
- Stop using dryer sheets! Dryer sheets are notorious for generating quite the build up of gunk on our clothes. Swap out dryer sheets for dryer balls.
- Make sure your washer is clean. Front load washers are hard to keep clean and often have a build up of gooey gunk in the drum. Heres a step by step process on how to clean your front load washing machine.
If youre interested, I also wrote an entire post on how to get mildew smell out of towels, too.
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How Do You Get Mold Out Of Towels
Put your towels into the washing machine and instead of adding detergent and fabric softener, add one cup of white vinegar. Start the wash cycle using the hottest water setting available. Once the machine has filled up with water, let the agitator run for 10 seconds in order to mix everything together.
Why Do My Freshly Washed Towels Smell Like Mildew
We’ve all been there you go to use a fresh towel, and it smells musty even though it was freshly washed. The reason towels get that musty smell is because there is mildew growing on them. Mildew and other bacteria grow rapidly on soft, moist surfaces, so towels are an ideal breeding ground for them.
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How To Remove The Smell Of Mildew
You may not be sure how it happened, but it happened. That mildew smell has found itself a new home in your towels. Its not too late!
Here are some DIY home remedies to help you get rid of that mildew smell.
Hot water and vinegar
- Vinegar has a low pH balance, which helps break down bacteria and odors in fabric.
Hot water and baking soda
- Mix ½ cup of baking soda into a wash cycle with hot water.
- Unlike vinegar, baking soda has a higher pH, which will work differently by causing cotton fibers to expand, thus loosening trapped bacteria.
- This method can be done on its own as well as following the hot water and vinegar technique.
- Borax is a sodium tetraborate commonly found in cleaning products and can also be used as a cleaning product on its own.
- Mix 1 cup of Borax with 1 liter of hot water and apply to the affected area.
- If possible, allow the affected area to soak in the solution for a few hours before then throwing the garment into the wash on a rinse cycle.
- Create a mixture of lemon juice and salt.
- We want the mixture to be thick – aim for a paste-like consistency – so dont be shy with adding in the salt.
- Rub the mixture into any affected area.
- Leave the garment in direct sunlight allowing it to completely dry before throwing it into the next laundry load.
- This method works best to remove mildew when there is a clear growth that can be somewhat spot treated.
How To Freshen Your Towels And Get Rid Of That Mildew Stink
Admit it. Your towels have smelled mildewy, moldy, like they sat wet for ever and ever because you left them in the washer too long. Now you need to how to get the mildew smell out of towels. Well, I do it all too often. It happens. You think youre being productive because you threw a load of laundry in, then you forgot to toss them into the dryer and your clothes or towels developed this nasty smelling odor that just lingers and is just plain gross.
Well, evidently it is because dirt, grime and detergent build up gets buried into the fibers of towels and clothing and when they are left wet, it can create that awful smell. Gross huh? I mean, weve all dried off with one of those towels before and then its like why did I even shower? You smell worse than before! Am I right? S.I.C.K.
This doesnt have to be you! Follow these easy steps to get fresh towels every single time!
Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels!
Wash your load of towels on the hot cycle and add 1 cup of vinegar to the load. Do not use detergent or anything just hot water and the vinegar. Let the washer do its job. Then, if you still smell a little bit, rewash with just hot water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. I did not need to do this step but if your towels are bad, you might want to. Again, no detergent, just baking soda and hot water. Got it?
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Get Rid Of That Lingering Sour Towel Smell Using Borax
If you thought baking soda was good at getting the sour smell out of towels, youll be blown away by what borax can do.
If youve completed the process above with vinegar and baking soda and your towels still stink or smell like mildew, try using borax.
To complete this process, turn your water settings on high or sanitize, put ½ cup of borax in where youd typically place the detergent and fill fabric softener spot with 1 cup of vinegar.
Additionally, you can try laundry stripping-which is the process of soaking clothes/towels in a mixture of detergent, borax and washing soda.
How To Use Vinegar In Washing Machine
When we had a top loader, I just poured about 1/2 cup of vinegar right on top of the towels in the washing machine. For extra smelly loads, I used a bit more.
Our front loader has a fabric softener dispenser, and I just fill it to the max line with the vinegar and so far everything has come out perfectly. It dispenses at the perfect time in the wash cycle.
To make it easier to store the vinegar in our laundry room, I recently picked up a cheap glass pitcher with a lid.
Its more attractive, but the biggest thing for me is that it fits in the cabinet. The large vinegar bottles are too tall and I have to keep them in the cleaning closet. PS: Even though its cheap, the glass is thick and heavy, especially when full. If you have problems with wrist strength, this may not be the best option.
Some people also use a cup of baking soda, but Ive never found this necessary.
Just the vinegar and your regular laundry soap will work wonders.
Safety Note: Do NOT use bleach and vinegar in the same load. This can cause a chemical reaction that could be harmful to yourself and your clothes!
For the kitchen, we switched to using antibacterial wipes on the counters vs dishcloths. Im not totally thrilled disposing of the plastic containers they come in all the time so I try to get the ones that come with the most wipes per container.
The other tip is to make sure all bath towels and cloths are hung in way they can dry quickly vs leaving them bunched up.
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How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell In The Closet
What should you do when your clothes and towels smell musty in the closet? While you can take everything out for washing, you still need to address the root cause of the problem, or theyll just get stinky again.
Open the doors of your closet to increase airflow. Louvered doors are better than solid woods because they allow ventilation. You can also use a tiny fan and direct it to your closet. Allowing air to get in and out will help prevent the growth of mold and odor.
Check the corners of your closet. These spots are notorious for harboring mold and mildew. Use an all-purpose spray cleaner when you tidy the area.
In severe cases, you will have to work with a mold remediation team. Mold spores do not just make your garments musty they can also cause serious health problems!
Mold is no fun when it gets into your home and on your clothing. Follow these tips to remove mold smell quickly at home. The faster you act, the more successful your attempts will be. If you cannot remove the odor on your own, contact a professional laundry service.
Kellys Dry Cleaners in Durango, CO is open daily except for weekends from 9 AM to 6 PM. Call us anytime at 970-903-1642. Our Farmington, NM branch is open Monday through Saturday. Call us at 505-564-3333 for your laundry needs.
How To Clean Mold Off Towels
You will need a washing machine and a drying machine or just the sun!
- Half a cup of baking soda
- Place the infected towels into your washing machine
- Set your washing machine to the hottest temperature possible as well as on the extra-heavy mode
- Instead of using detergent, pour the cup of vinegar
- Once it goes through the entire cycle, replace the vinegar with baking soda and let it run for another cycle
- After the second cycle, take the towels out of the washing machine and put them in the dryer to get them completely dry. If you dont have a dryer, take the towels out and dry them under the sun. Always makes sure that they are completely dry before bringing them back into the house. You can also use a baking soda paste to help remove a mold stain
One of the best ways to ensure that your towels dont get infected by mold and mildew regularly, make it a habit to hang them out to dry as soon they have been used. It is advisable to take them out to the sun for this purpose.
This advice applies to wet or sweaty shoes and clothes. You are advised not to dry them indoors but to clean them or dry them out under the sun and make sure that they are completely dry before bringing them back in.
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How To Remove Mildew Smell And Bacteria From Towels
The thickness of towels makes them ideal for moisture to collect, which is great since they exist to absorb excess water. However, too much moisture can be a deterrent.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that you allow your towels to dry completely after being used or after being washed. Removing your laundry from the washer right after it’s done is the easiest way to prevent this, but sometimes life gets away from us, and a freshly washed load gets left in longer than it should.
However, if you know how to clean towels properly, you can live a life free of musty, smelly towels. There are several ways to give your towels a proper washing, and you can even target the potential source of the problem: your washing machine and dryer.
Here are a few things you can do to get your towels looking like new again.
Wash Clothes Like Normal
For best results, I would use powdered detergent when you wash your clothes, and finish up by adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
When you dry the clothes, skip any fabric softeners that you typically use, as they only work to add build up to the clotheswhich is exactly what were trying to get rid of when we strip laundry. A better alternative is to use wool dryer balls.
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How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Clothes
Have you ever buried your face in a fluffy towel expecting the sweet scents of fresh laundry, but were smacked with musty basement smell instead? That is mildew, my friends. Its not pleasant, its not great for your lungs, and you do not want a houseguest held hostage to it.
Laundry left in a washing machine over a warm weekend , or damp gym clothes crumpled up and tossed in a laundry basket are ideal climates for mildew to thrive. Mildew, like mold, is a form of fungus, and fungus stinks. You might think a simple wash cycle would lift that all-too-familiar musty smell, but youd be very, very wrong.Youre going to need a one-two punch to get mildew smells out of your clothes, towels and linens.
Why Do Towels Get Mold And Mildew
Would you like to make a guess?Hopefully this is a no-brainer. As you recall, mold and mildew love moistureand towels provide plenty of that!
Most of us shower or take a bath and then hang our towel to dry in the bathroom. Some of us may even make the mistake of throwing the wet towel into the laundry basket or onto the floor.
When your wet towel hangs around in the bathroom not only does it increase the moisture in the air causing the humidity to rise but it simply doesnt allow the towel to dry in a reasonable amount of time. You have taken a wet towel, added moisture, and then given it an impossible task of drying quickly. Enter mildew.
Even worse is when the towel ends upin ball on the floor or in a laundry basket. You just completely stripped it ofits ability to dry.
If your towel is left damp for more than 12 hours it runs the risk of developing that mildew smell. Leave it for 24 hours? You might get actual mold on the towel.
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