You take a shower and dry off with a freshly cleaned towel, but as soon as it gets wet it starts to stink. I have had towels in the past that could have made you want to take another shower. I didn’t want to throw perfectly good towels away, but the way that I was washing towels obviously wasn’t working. To fix my problem I went looking for the secret of how to stop towels from smelling.
How to Stop Towels from Smelling
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Stinky towels are the pits. Our bathroom doesn’t air out well, so during baths and showers it’s full of moisture and it holds on to it. This keeps our towels from drying well which can give them an awful mildew smell.
The smell got even worse when we got our front loading energy efficient washer and dryer. Actually most of what we wash started having a stink problem after we got the new washer, but the solution for that can wait for another post.
My personal towels were the worst of the lot. Those towels seemed to hold on to the horrible mildew smell and not let it go.
Eventually I got to my breaking point. Constantly using stinky towels was driving me nuts. I turned to Google to find out the best way to wash towels to stop them from stinking.
I was a bit surprised by what I read to do, but I was willing to try anything to not have stinky towels in the bathroom anymore. The cleaning process actually ended up working quite well, but it was two little items that I added later that really helped make it all work.
Products Needed to Get Smell Out Of Towels
Steps for How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels
Keeping the terrible mildew smell out of your towels is actually quite easy. You just need to get very basic and go natural. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous to try anything that wasn’t approved HE cleaning items in my front load washer, but it all worked out great.
Wash Towels with Baking Soda and Vinegar
To kill off the mildew smell you first need to wash the towels with baking soda and white vinegar in very hot water. Baking soda and white vinegar do not mix well though, so don’t put them in the wash at the same time or you’re going to end up with a messy chemical reaction.
To keep things simple use half a cup of baking soda in place of your detergent. For regular washing machines put the baking soda into the machine just as you would the detergent. For those of us with HE machines take the liquid cup out of the detergent compartment and then put the baking soda in that area just as you would if you were washing with a powder detergent.
To keep the baking soda and vinegar separate in the wash you will use the white vinegar in place of a fabric softener. If you have a regular washing machine pour a fourth of a cup of vinegar in to the machine during the rinse cycle. If you have a HE machine pour the vinegar in to the fabric softener compartment. You’ll want to pour it to the full line.
A lot of sites online say not to do a load of laundry with these two products together, but I have done it myself. I promise that if you wash it this way with the products separate that you will be fine. If it worries you though then wash the towels one time with baking soda and then do another wash with the vinegar.
Still a bit confused? Check out my post about washing towels with vinegar and baking soda safely to get more detailed information and to see visual pictures on how to do it.
Dry Towels Thoroughly
Making sure that your towels get fully dry is a very important step in the process of getting smell out of towels. Many people suggest hanging your towels outside as the UV light can help rid the towels of mildew. This is also a great way to save on your electrical use too. I always find though that when drying towels outside I’m usually left with very hard and stiff towels that are no fun to dry off with.
Instead I have found the best way to dry my towels well is in the dryer with special dryer balls. Mine are actually cute little cacti. I received them as part of a thank you package for a giveaway I ran on the Rock-A-Bye Parents a few years ago. I had never owned or used dryer balls before. I decided to try the dryer balls out though because during my research I found that dryer sheets aren’t good for towels. They can actually cause a wax buildup on the towels which can contribute to many different issues for your towels.
When I gave my little Cactus Dryer Buddies a try I found that they did an amazing job drying my towels. I have done this wash process with and without the Cactus Dryer Buddies and I can safely say that my towels smell even better after the process when I use them. Plus they keep the wax off of my towels so they stay softer. I won’t dry my towels without these little guys now!
Freshen Towels When Necessary
At this point you should have nice fresh smelling towels again. You shouldn’t need to wash them this way every time that you wash your towels. In fact, if you do wash them several times in a row this way you may find that they take on a different sort of smell from the vinegar.
If your towels do start to smell like mildew again just repeat this washing process. After that you’ll have nice smelling towels once more.
Due to my hard water, and all of the moisture that my bathroom likes to hold on to, I do have to give my towels a good smell boost from time to time. I have also found that I can keep things fresh by washing with a mix of baking soda with a powder detergent and adding just a small amount of vinegar.
It has now been many years since I searched the internet to find out how to stop my towels from smelling. I was at the point that I was ready to throw my towels away, but I’m so glad that I found this laundry method instead. Years later my towels are still in use!