Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Simple Solution For Better Smelling, More Absorbent Towels

help for smelly towels I’ve noticed that “smelly towels” is a subject that is pinned a lot on Pinterest, and lately I’ve been receiving emails asking about this as well. This leads me to believe it’s a pretty big problem. So, I thought it was high time I addressed it. For heaven’s sake…we can’t have people suffering needlessly from “Smelly Towel Syndrome” when there is such an EASY FIX!

To be honest, I have never had much of a problem with smelly towels because where we live is SO DRY that towels don’t really have a chance to get moldy or mildewy.

Good thing! My boys are notorious for leaving their wet towels in a puddle on the floor, in the sink, in the bathtub, everywhere BUT the hamper! And wet towels = mildew…and mildew = smelly! (That unpleasant odor is actually the smell of bacteria breeding. GROSS!)

But I HAVE noticed that sometimes my towels aren’t as absorbent as they used to be, and what I have discovered after looking into this phenomena is that both problems stem from the same source. Detergent and Fabric Softener Build-up!

Over time, your bath towels will build up detergent and fabric softener residue. This not only attracts SMELLY mildew, it can essentially “waterproof” your towels. If water can’t get into the fabric to clean it, the towel won’t BE or SMELL clean.

help for smelly towels The GOOD news is that there is a very simple solution for getting rid of the build-up (and thus the SMELL)!

What you’ll need:

1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of baking soda
HOT water

Directions:

Put offending towels in washing machine and fill with HOT water! You might want to turn up your hot water heater temporarily for this, or  I usually just boil some water on the stove and add it to the load.

 

help for smelly towels

Add one cup of vinegar to the load and run through an entire wash cycle.

 

help for smelly towels

Leave towels in the washer and refill again with HOT water, this time adding 1/2 cup of baking soda. Run through another entire cycle.

help for smelly towels

Now dry towels THOROUGHLY in the dryer or outside on the clothesline.

The “science” behind this method:  Vinegar (which contains acetic acid) breaks up water mineral deposits and dissolves buildup, and baking soda (which contains an alkali—sodium bicarbonate) neutralizes odors and dissolves dirt and grease. 

This combination should take care of the problem 9 times out of 10.  If you are still experiencing “smelliness”…try repeating the same process above until it is gone.

help for smelly towels

I am not recommending this method for EVERY TIME you wash your towels…only when you start to notice that “funky” smell or the towels don’t seem to be absorbing the way they should.  

So now that your towels ARE better smelling and more absorbent….let’s KEEP them that way….OK??

Tips for KEEPING your towels CLEAN and FRESH-SMELLING:

  • Be sure to check that your towels are 100 percent dry before putting them away. Even a small amount of moisture can make towels smell sour.
  • Mold and mildew love it when towels are left in a puddle on the floor. They should be hung up to air-dry after each use. Bathmats, too, should be hung to dry.
  • Make sure you’re not using TOO MUCH DETERGENT. Too much detergent leaves a residue, especially with high-efficiency washers that use less water.
  • Don’t use commercial fabric softener on towels; it coats towels with a thin layer of chemicals which makes them less absorbent. White vinegar is a GREAT natural fabric softener. It prevents further build-up, eliminates static, and makes towels softer.
  • Make sure towels are drying quickly enough after using them. Hang them on towel bars or spread across two hooks until they’re completely dry.

 

How do you keep your towels fresh, clean and absorbent?

 




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133 thoughts on “A Simple Solution For Better Smelling, More Absorbent Towels

  1. heather

    Here is what i have done in the past….works great too. I have a front loader he washer. I put towels in set washer for rinse/spin cycle. When that is done i use a hot wash with half the normal detergent. Which is homemade and i add my softener which is homemade. Then i do another rinse/spin cycle. Both rinse/spin cycles are with cold water. I also do this faithly with cloth diapers and hubbys work clothes. He is a mechanic. Both homemade recipes can be found here on jillee as welk. Goodluck.

    Reply
    1. Chanda

      My smelly towel problem has been SOLVED since I made and started using the homemade detergent powder. And I no longer need fabric softener since, either. I thought my towels would get more absorbent w/ new detergent and no softener.. But I will try this vinegar trick! I love all the uses for vinegar I am learning from you jillee!! I have enzyme cleaner fermenting currently. The wait is killing me.

      Reply
  2. CraftyMamaT

    Towels are always washed separately in my house. Always with hot water, and half the detergent recommended, and no fabric softener. I haven’t had smelly towels in quite a while, unless I left them in the washer because I forgot the load.

    Reply
  3. Debbie

    Hey Jillee,

    Thank you for this tip! I too suffer from smelly and non- absorbent towels. I have a question though. My washer is a front loader and it has different programs I can use. Can you tell me how hot the water should be? I can choose 60 degrees or 90 degrees Celsius (that’s 140 or 190 degrees Fahrenheit I think)? I normally wash at 40 degrees Celcius.

    Reply
    1. Lauren

      I have a front loading machine as well. With towels and bedding, I always wash them separately to clothes, and wash them at 60 degrees C, as that should be hot enough to kill off things like dust mites and bacteria. So far, I don’t have a problem with smelly towels. If they are particularly dirty/smelly, then perhaps try 90 degrees. =)

      Reply
    1. Jeannie

      Me, too. I realize some people want to avoid bleach at all costs, but, quick as a flash, it takes such a tiny amount to do a thorough, lasting job. I can’t not.

      Reply
  4. Lou

    I usually soak my towel in tea tree oil and vinegar over night, and add the baking soda in the wash. I do Bikram yoga 4x a week, and my towels were getting really smelly before I started doing this.

    Reply
      1. Cydne

        We do use the vinegar as a natural fabric softener for towels and sheets, but I also just do an extra rinse and this has worked for us instead of an entire extra load.

        Reply
  5. Nathy

    There seems to be no household problem that Vinegar and Baking Soda can’t solve! My mom taught me to just make a “towel soup”, by putting water and vinegar in a pot with the offending towels and boiling them for half an hour. Also works great with discoloured and smelly dishtowels.

    Reply
  6. Heather

    Love this article and the comments! I have to say, the solution isn’t very ‘green’. My family lives very Eco-friendly, and VERY HOT water and TWO wash cycles is a ton of WASTE. Some of the comments offer greener solutions to the problem. This is why I love Jillee’s blog! For Jillee AND us followers!

    Reply
      1. Mary Alice

        And if you are only washing towels, it’s quite likely that you do not have a full load, so it’s not necessary to fill the washing machine completely. My machine lets me set the water level so I don’t have to use more water than necessary.

        Reply
    1. Angie

      Actually, you can increase efficiency by boiling some of the water on the stove and pouring it into the washing machine as it’s filling with hot water. As others commented, this doesn’t need to be done with every load – only when the towels begin to get smelly.

      Reply
      1. Kelly Lamb aka Sew Lambitious LLC

        Another instance to use the baking soda and vinegar TOGETHER is when DE-SKUNKING a dog. Add a tsp of Dawn and it is the perfect solution! You have to continue to mix the “slurry” as you apply it… it wants to separate a bit. Leave a bit in the container to drop the collar into for at least an hour. I’ve done it many times and swear by it!

        Reply
  7. KatieQ

    I always wash my towels and bed linens separate from the rest of our laundry. I use hot water and add baking soda with every wash and use vinegar in the rinse in on of those “Downy balls” meant for fabric softener. I agree that washing in hot water is not as green as other methods, but it is the best option for my allergy prone family. All of my other laundry is washed in cold water.

    Reply
  8. kari

    Living in the Northern Midwest where winters last 14-18 months (not!-but sometimes it seems like it), the air is especially dry during the winter and overly humid during the rest of the year making “sour” towels easy to come by.
    I have found that washing towels in extremely HOT water and adding a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Borax to the load along with your normal washing liquid/powder eliminates any odors, and it softens and no static cling. BONUS-it also de-scales my HE washer!!! No odors or build up in that machine either.
    Then I make sure to dry them thorooughly. Works ever time. And I normally do this weekly.

    Reply
    1. CTY

      I have seen many pinterest postings about washer odor. I leave my lid open to allow it to air dry and have never had a problem. Guess front loaders need to keep the doors open– just make sure toddlers can’t climb in. Keep dryer doors open too. Just close the laundry room door.

      Reply
  9. julie

    Also, DoTerra sells an amazing product ON GUARD CLEANER CONCENTRATE. It’s only 14.50$ and mine is lasting a long time. Well worth the money I believe!! It’s wonderful for cleaning all sorts of things. Straight from DoTerra’s website:
    On Guard Cleaner Concentrate is the natural and safe way to clean your living space while leaving a clean and invigorating scent. Purposely designed to have a wide variety of uses, this specialized formula is derived from plant-based ingredients, with On Guard essential oil, for exceptional cleaning power and natural protection from harmful surface-borne microbes. Because it is non-toxic and biodegradable, it is friendly for the whole family as well as the environment.
    I put it in every batch of laundry!!
    Julie

    Reply
  10. Landon

    I also wash towels & sheets in their own loads separate from the rest of the clothes. My master bath towels are organic cotton in a ‘spice’ color – think deep, dark terracotta. I’d never wash them in hot water for fear of ruining the color. They are so pretty! When I first got the organic cotton I noticed that it seemed to sour faster than the regular cotton, so I used vinegar as the rinse aid & the odor was gone. The biggest thing I noticed was that after using the vinegar the towels were more fluffy & far more absorbent than before. I ♥ vinegar!

    Here’s a tip I use from time to time. If towels start to feel stiff, & scratchy: fill your washer with desired temp of water – just water. Add towels & let agitate for a few minutes. When you look at the water & see bubbles growing after the agitation, then you have detergent or bath soap (from the rags) build up that needs to be stripped. Add a cup of vinegar, advance to the rinse cycle & allow it to finish. Then refill the machine & add half the recommended amount of detergent. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle or place in a Downy Ball (my favorite method) and let wash.

    Reply
      1. Cydne

        CTY, it probably could if you used too much, but most of Jillee’s recipes call for small amounts. Often the biggest build-up culprit with towels is commercial fabric softener sheets. I have been washing our towels for 3 months now with homemade detergent using vinegar in the rinse instead of the sheets, and only in the last two weeks have I noticed that the build-up is noticeably gone. Our towels are brighter than before, smell better, and don’t get the sour smell like they used to.

        Reply
    1. Mary Alice

      I would not. I think that it could leave a stain on the towels. Maybe this would not be a problem on dark towels, but it could certainly be a risk if washing light colored towels.

      Reply
  11. lady brett

    i have found a bit of vinegar in the *dryer* helps immensely with clothes smelling totally clean.

    i just pull a rag or t-shirt or something out of the load as it comes out of the washer, douse it in white vinegar (you don’t want it to drip, but otherwise there’s no problem with “too much”) and throw it in the dryer with everything else. the vinegar eliminates any not-quite-clean smells from everything in the load, and even the carrier rag doesn’t come out smelling like vinegar.

    Reply
  12. Jamie

    I use your recipe for homemade laundry soap, hot water and add a cup of vinegar. then for the fabric softner i use your recipe with the vinegar and baking soda… it works great!

    Reply
      1. Jade

        In reponse to Patty’s quote: “Soap & vinegar mixed together cancel each other out.
        http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=292

        If you go to the link you will have a fairly nice explanation stating that Dr. Bonner’s Castile soap should not be mixed with vinegar because they cancel each other out. The gist of the blogs is base reacts with acid which results in a salt and it does not clean anything. I being a biochemist know that first soaps are buffers that have hydrophilic and hydrophobic components that degrease and can handle different pH’s. I also know from testing pH’s of my shampoos that Dr. Bonner’s peppermint castile soap has a neutral ph of 7, it is not basic, and it is the max pH of a soap that should be used on ones head as shampoo (our hair prefers a more acidic solution). Additionally, the idea of no suds was a terrible way to prove that her theory is correct because I also know from experience that the Dr. Bonner’s Castile soap barely suds or foam. I went through the comments to see if anyone saw the fault in her argument.

        I found one who’s name is June that stated:
        “Milk is not a base. It has a PH of ~ 6.4 to 6.8. Baking soda has a PH of ~ 9 when mixed with vinegar (ph of ~2.4) you get a chemical reaction that can help to unclog a clogged drain and even clean a toilet. Lemon has a ph of ~ 2-3, when mixed with Milk per recipe can create a substitute for buttermilk. Dawn dish washing detergent has a ph of 9, when mixed with hot vinegar, it creates a very good cleaner. Point being, basing your answer on a simple base vs acid approach doesn’t work. I understand you have a personal and vested interest in Dr. Bronner’s soap, and I respect that. I like and do use your products. If Dr. Bronner’s and Vinegar do not mix, I will respect your word, but not based on your acid and base theory.”

        Lisa Bonner responded:

        “The reason behind the interaction between vinegar and castile soap is more complicated than that one is a acid and one is a base. Case in point – detergents such as Dawn and Sal Suds, which are also alkaline, do not react with vinegar. Detergents and soaps have very different chemical compositions. The soap molecule is more susceptible to being split apart by the acid. Here’s the chemistry:
        The molecular composition of soap is R-(CH2)n-COOK. The composition of vinegar (acetic acid) is CH#-COOH. When blended together, although acetic acid is not too strong of an acid, the ending H (hydrogen) from the acid displaces some of the K (potassium) from the soap. The soap becomes R-(CH2)n-COOH. This is a fatty acid, not soluble in water, not a soap anymore and it does not cleanse or foam. Other acids, such as lemon juice, would also have this H available to knock the K off the soap molecule. I hope that helps clear things up.”

        I am making this clear because Jillee has a mixture of Dawn and Vinegar that works wonders in my bathtub. I am sure Lisa wanted to help others and decided that she should make the blog as simple as possible without confusing people that never took Organic Chemistry. However, it left me and another person more knowledgeable in the subject not trusting her statement.

        Basically what Lisa made clear in her comments is, soap such as castile soap is less effective if mixed with vinegar because based on her statement the potassium (K) is substituted by the Hydrogen (H) which will form a fatty acid. However, detergents such as Sal’s soap, dawn, laundry detergents does not react with the vinegar. In other words, you can mix your laundry detergent with vinegar or your dawn with vinegar if you so chose to.

        Lastly, I do not doubt that there are some sort of reactions between soap and vinegar because the point of chemical reactions are to form a more stable product, however her explanation is flawed and no attempt was made to clarify it until she responded to June in the comments section. Even her comment is not 100% clear because soap is a fatty acid.

        Reply
    1. Tracy

      I’ve been doing this for a couple of months in my front loader. Works great and no problems. I just sprinkle the baking soda on top of the wet towels and set the machine for another cycle. I also pour the vinegar on the towels and don’t use the dispenser, because mine doesn’t hold a cup.

      Tracy

      Reply
    2. Barbara

      I use about 1/2 cup of ammonia added to wash water using the vinegar in the fabric softener cup and no smells! My husband works outside in our nursery and in the summer his work clothes get really really ripe!
      Ammonia gets out all the odors everytime. Been using it for years.

      Reply
    3. Stephanie

      I have a top loading HE machine. I add baking soda to the wash (with my detergent) and add vinegar in the fabric softener container and wash as usual. No funky smell to my towels.

      Reply
  13. SA

    I always use baking soda in the wash + vinegar in the rinse.
    I throw a dry towel into the dryer w/ whatever is in the wet load. This seeds up the drying time and makes things softer.
    Now I am using some wool drying balls-they do an even better job of speeding up drying, reducing wrinkles and making things super soft.
    And, I discovered that I could put a few drops of essential oil (I used lavender) on the wool balls, so my towels have a faint lovely scent.
    My dryer sheets are now being used up as dusters-no more chemicals on the clothes, sheets and towels.
    Everything is softer and more absorbent and it sure saves $$$!

    Reply
  14. Hilda

    I just wanted to thank you for bringing so many GOOD things to this website! I love it! You are now part of my daily morning routine. I look forward to GOOD things everyday. God Bless.

    Reply
  15. Angie W

    I just simply added 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to my washer + my detergent (store bought… making my own is on the to do list). It worked great for me! But I also rinse twice… only because I tend to be heavy handed with the detergent. And this way I know I get all the soap out. :)

    Reply
    1. Deanna Kennedy

      You just pour the vinegar on top of the towels. Same with the baking soda. My friend said that the Deep Steam cycle works great for smelly towels. I am going to try the vinegar on the Deep Steam, then just do a quick wash with the baking soda.

      Reply
  16. Catherine's not naturally crafty

    Well, I just decided to make the commitment to gradually switch over to all white towels. I have long since made the move in sheets and it really pays off. You can easily use HOT water and chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide for heavy duty cleaning. I’m going to do the same for towels now. Yes there are those who really object to Chlorine bleach but I’m not one of them and it works soooo well.

    And I know, the colors can be so pretty but…I too have towel droppers. And then to add insult to injury, the dog loves to go find the dropped towels and take a ‘lil nap. Euwww! I took your idea to but a buttonhole in kitchen towels to make them stay put and applied it to the towels. I sewed a buttonhole in the top woven band of the bath towels, hand cloths and washcloths. So now they just pop right on the hooks and don’t fall off. Still you gotta put them on the hook but if you make it that far they won’t fall off.

    Thanks for all the help you give us Jillee!

    Reply
    1. Angie

      I have made the switch to all white towels as well. It is SO much easier to just throw all of my towels into one load and use the same treatment on all of them at once. I am like you in that I miss the pretty colors, but what I have done to combat this is to hang a decorative hand towel (in the whatever color scheme I have used in the bathroom) over the center of a white towel. Viola! No more blah towels!

      Reply
  17. CTY

    Never had a problem with smelly towels– thought it was strange to see it splashed all over pinterest. Hanging towels to dry between use is key (we reuse our towels). As far as kids leaving them on the floor–we always had towels assigned for each person. If your towel smells it because you did not hang it after use. Maybe it is because of all those commercials but we expect to get out of the shower and stick our face in a fresh towel while inhaling deeply. Believe me if the kids or DH inhales a sour smell- they learn to hang it up. Wash days (2x week) are towels only & hot water & sun dried whenever possible. UV rays kills things too.

    Reply
    1. Cydne

      I never had stinky towel problem until I moved to an area with really hard water. I think it calcifies before it hits the tub.
      And when I used Dawn in my homemade laundry detergent. Switched to another liquid soap & the smell went away.

      Reply
  18. Meg

    I do this often with my towels – not only does it get the detergent build up loose (I never use softener), but also any residue from body wash and body oils from getting dry. I prefer washing soda to baking soda, but either will work. I first learned the trick when washing cloth diapers — something you DEFINITELY want peak absorbency with ;) — and now use it on sheets, towels, even regular clothes. If they’re really, really gunky (like kitchen towels that may have been used to wipe something greasy), a TINY squirt of Dawn helps too.

    Reply
  19. Sherry

    I’ve never had a smelly towel problem either. I use vinegar instead of softener every other wash load.
    Did you know that the lint filter can get a build up from the softener too?
    I take mine out and clean it good every so often. Make sure it’s dry before you put it back in.

    Reply
  20. Jessica

    I strip my towels with blue Dawn dishsoap (just like cloth diapers) when they start becoming less absorbent. I use the vinegar and baking soda washes too, (but not in hot water) if I forget a load in the machine and it gets smelly.

    Reply
    1. Cydne

      For those who live in areas with hard water, sometimes Dawn itself can create the stink. I learned this when I used the “no-grate” laundry detergent recipe from this site. After researching, I learned this, switched to Palmolive, and the stink was gone.

      Reply
  21. Michelle

    One of the best tips a friend ever gave me about getting rid of smelly towels was to run a load of towels, use detergent but *omit* bleach and instead use about 1 cup of ammonia (because bleach and ammonia don’t mix).

    Ammonia is a degreaser, and sometimes body oils become trapped inside the towels along with buildup of soap, especially if it’s a moisturizing soap or body wash. Eventually the oil becomes rancid and gives off a weird smell.

    If you wash your towels this way, they will come out with a rough texture but whiter, and the smell will be gone. It’s not necessary to do it all the time. Just when you notice they’re getting smelly or dull white.

    Reply
    1. Jeannie

      Thank you. I did not realize ammonia was a degreaser. I wish I knew that for some towels and cloth napkins my husband used to absorb cooking oil. I know that rancid smell and ended up tossing the towels and napkins. I couldn’t get rid of the smell with anything: bleach, vinegar, baking soda, borax, oxyclean, etc.. I have never used ammonia in my life, but I will be buying some now. :)

      Reply
  22. Amy Marshall

    Thanks for this information! I have used vinegar soaks before to kill mildew smell but I didn’t know about using baking soda too. I have struggled with this since we lived in Louisiana, which equals very, very humid conditions of course! I have actually considered throwing towels away and starting over! Thanks so much…love your blog!

    Reply
  23. Debra Presley

    I have always used borax in our wash, and vinegar on my towels especially as a rinse agent, as it helps with all types of water conditions and especially where build up of soap film and mineral deposits leave clothes gray and dingy. Every so often I have to take our clothes and do a whiten and brighten day on them but not nearly as often as before I started including the washing powder to every load of clothes. (We live in a rural area where most water is drawn from wells.)

    However, when it comes to my bath towels and cleaning rags, they never see any type of fabric softener at any time. Fabric softener reduces the amount of absorbency the towels have and it leaves a film behind when washing windows with a towel that’s’ been treated with any type of fabric softener (rinse additive or dryer sheets).
    The vinegar alone added to the final rinse is enough of a softening agent for the towels and leaves no messy residues behind and doesn’t block the amount of absorbency of the towels.

    Reply
  24. sage

    All of our towels are white. They are washed daily, along with with all the bar mops and glass towels that I use in lieu of paper towels. ( Trust me – with 75 windows, four bathrooms, and a huge country kitchen – this is cheaper – waaay cheaper!) I have a top loading, HE Bravos washer ( no agitator) and it has a special machine cleaning cycle that requires it to be sanitized with either bleach or Afresh every 45 loads.

    I use home -made detergent, and sometimes bleach, very hot water, no softener, and once in a great while – Iron Out (we have well water.) Never any problems with odor on towels or machine, or absorbency. I will add, that the home made detergent, made with Fels, borax and washing soda, is the only thing that will remove the odor from my very old dog’s mattress cover. I had almost given up hope – but it smells wonderful after washing and double rinsing. (She’s a 14 year old Lab! Very stinky! LOL )

    We calculated the cost of daily washing a large, hot load of whites compared with former paper towel consumption, and come out $48.00 ahead, annually. We do not have a water bill of course, but we do have a water softener that requires salt. ($15 a month for iron removing salt) That gives every member of the family fresh, clean towels every day, as well as stacks of linens to use for kitchen, bathroom, and window cleaning.

    Reply
  25. Gwen in L.A.

    When we replaced our old washer, we were instructed to wash all our towels with NO detergent until they had all be cycled through the laundry. Not just detergent but laundry softener builds up.

    Reply
  26. Jasi

    omgosh. i came here wondering about towels and now i’m interested in nuts and balls (soap and wool, respectively, that is). although the nuts seem too complicated, but definitely the balls. for sure. ordering 100% organic ones too. can i get a word on white towels vs color? i love the color towels but i’ve only had white and it’s SOO easy to clean!

    Reply
  27. Pam Waddell

    As usual, another great post from Jillee! Thank you! Now tell us why our towels get bleachy spots when I do not, nor have I ever in this machine (front loader) used bleach!

    Reply
    1. Sheepish Grin

      Bleachy spots on towels… semen left to sit will cause a bleaching action. If that is not the case, I’m curious what else causes it.

      Reply
  28. Crystal

    I use the fabric softener dispenser to add vinegar, (white non diluted), to my rinse water for every load of laundry…. or if your machine doesn’t have a dispenser, use a “Downy Ball”.
    Also, add 1/2-1 cup of baking powder to every wash load.
    And ALWAYS use 25%-50% less detergent than recommended.
    All of your laundry will be cleaner, softer and less irritating to your skin, as well as last longer.
    p.s. I live in an apartment at this time so am unable to, but if you can, always line dry.

    Reply
  29. Ruth Chidley

    I have never had a problem with smelly towels even during the time of raising 4 children, UNTIL now! We moved into a leased home a little over a year ago and a front load washer is part of the package deal. I’ve been intending to ask someone if it is normal for water to be left outside the tub when a load of laundry has finished. Has I spin the tub, making sure I’ve removed all the pieces of laundry stuck to the sides, I hear water swishing around in the outer layer of the washing machine tub. I’ve tried running just the spin cycle after my final washing to see if it would remove more water, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If this is normal I would like to know. If it isn’t normal with a front loader, I would like to know also. There is a definite smell of mildew emitting from the washer. I’ve washed the rubber casket that surrounds the door and the smell is better but as I said, when I started writing, my towels don’t smell as fresh as before I started using this washer. I use hot water with Sears laundry detergent. I started using less detergent and adding a little Borax plus a little Washing Baking Soda. I always remove them from the washer immediately and dry them thoroughly. We’ve always had the habit of hanging our towels after showering so they dry completely between times. I’ll try adding the white vinegar to the rinse cycle by putting it in the fabric dispenser and see if that helps. Thanks for any information you can give me.

    Reply
    1. Angie

      I have heard other people say to always leave the door open when a front-loading washer is not in use. This will allow any standing water to evaporate, preventing bacteria from breeding. If it remains an issue, you may need to have the washer serviced.

      Reply
  30. Jana

    Another reason to use the white vinegar as the fabric softener, which I’ve done for yrs now, that residue left on towels and clothes by commercial fabric softener is also left in the drain field & tank of septic tank systems. We had to have new ones put in 3 times (!) before I was told by the last person doing that work for us, the rocks, pipes, etc were coated with the softener! I had actually water-proofed my septic system. That is a very bad thing, & expensive, too.

    Reply
  31. LibStre

    I have a confession. We had to use up almost all of our towels plus a large blanket when a bathroom sink overfilled just before a party. The water was thoroughly absorbed and the item were placed into our laundry room sink “just for now.” A week later I was trying to figure what that stinky, sour smell was when I realized it was those towels and blanket. I remembered this post and my little accident became a great experiment. I followed your recipe/directions and everything came out fresh. Thank you for sharing “Another Good Thing.”

    Reply
  32. Ruth Chidley

    Jillie do you know if it is normal for a front loading washer to always have water remaining outside the tub after the load of laundry has finished? Whenever I spin the tub, making sure I’ve removed all the clothes, I can hear water slouching about.
    Thank you for all your wonderful help with ” livin’ life an easier way!”

    Reply
    1. Desperately seeking clean towels

      I’m interested in finding out if this is true as well. Should we put baking soda in the soap dispeser and vinegar in the rinse, or will it become a science experiment? Never had smelly towels until I bought a front loader. I will try anything to get rid of the smell!

      Reply
    2. Nathalia

      My ecology teacher once said that he always uses soap flakes as detergent and vinegar as fabric softener, and his garments looked alright, so I think there is not much harm in it. Besides the vinegar would only dissolve the scale and soapy build up in the towels, but still be diluted, so I think you could try that. But this mixture would not have the “blue-bleaching effect” and/or colour refreshing effect of commercial detergents I suppose. Though my grandma told me she used to add the “blue” by hand, to make whites look really white.

      Reply
  33. Colleen

    I tried this and it worked great!! I was stunned at the difference after one treatment. My towels were so saturated with fabric softener film that they were only spreading the water around, and yes, they smelled mildewy at times. After treating them with the vinegar and baking soda, they now soak up the water instantly! Plus, they just smell really clean now. I am DONE with commercial fabric softeners and will only use vinegar from now on. Clothes smell better anyway, when they are simply CLEAN and not loaded with artificial scents. Thanks, Jillee :-)

    Reply

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