You take a shower and dry off with a freshly cleaned towel, but as soon as it gets wet it starts to stink. Have you been there? I have had towels in the past that could have made you want to take another shower. I certainly didn’t want to throw perfectly good towels away, so I went looking for the secret of how to stop towels from smelling.
How to Stop Towels from Smelling
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 would trap the stink and the washcloth even became caked with soap. I’ve seriously never seen anything like it.
A few months back I had gotten to the point where constantly using stinky towels was all driving me nuts. I turned to Google to find out how to get the soap scum out of my washcloths and that in turn led me to looking for 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 smell 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 Stop Towels from Smelling
Steps to Take to Help Stop Towels from Smelling
Keeping the terrible mildew smell out of your towels is actually quite easy. You just need to get very basic and go more 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.
Step 1: Baking Soda and White Vinegar Wash
To kill off the mildew smell you’ll need to wash the towels with baking soda and white vinegar in very hot water. Now, baking soda and white vinegar do not mix well, 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 add 1/2 a cup of baking soda as 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 white vinegar separate in the wash use the white vinegar in place of a fabric softener. If you have a regular washing machine add 1/4 a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. If you have a HE machine pour the white vinegar to the full line in the fabric softener compartment.
A lot of sites online say not to wash with these 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 totally fine. If it worries you though then wash the towels one time with baking soda and then do another wash with the white vinegar.
Step 2: Dry Thoroughly
Making sure that your towels get fully dry is a very important step in the process of getting rid of the terrible smell in your towels. Many people suggest hanging your towels outside as the UV light can help rid the towels of mildew. This is a great way to save on your electrical use too. I always find though that when drying towels outside I’m always left with very hard and stiff towels that are no fun to dry with.
Instead I have found the best way to dry my towels well is in the dry 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 blog several months back. I had never owned dryer balls before. I had read though that dryer sheets aren’t good for towels as they can cause a wax buildup on the towels which can cause many issues for your towels.
I gave my little Cactus Dryer Buddies a try and 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!
I’ve noticed that Amazon seems to be mostly sold out of Cactus Dryer Buddies. I’m not sure if they’ve discontinued this design or what. Whatever the reason the price on the ones left is really high. For now I recommend looking at using these cute Puffer Fish Dryer Buddies. They are made by the same company as the cactus ones, but are far more cost effective right now.
Step 3: Repeat When Necessary
At this point you should have nice 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. Since our bathroom still doesn’t dry out well I do have to give my towels a good smell boost from time to time.
It’s been months since I searched the internet to find out how to stop 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 method instead.