Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of emails asking about what can be done about “smelly towels.” Since I know when one person asks a question on the website or on Facebook it usually means a lot MORE are wondering the same thing….I figured 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.
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
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.
Add one cup of vinegar to the load and run through an entire wash cycle.
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.
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.
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?