So you’ve noticed that your bath towels are smelling a bit… off. Or maybe you’ve notice that your towels aren’t quite as absorbent as they were in the past. Or maybe you’ve noticed both of these things! While these may seem like bad omens for your towels, don’t give up hope just yet! Because there’s actually a very simple fix for both problems, because both problems have the same root cause: detergent and fabric softener buildup.
Because bath towels are so absorbent, sometimes washing machines have a hard time rinsing out all the detergent and fabric softener residue. The residue that gets left behind builds over time, and can eventually attract mildew and even “waterproof” your towels! And that’s how you end up with smelly, non-absorbent bath towels. But like I said before, there’s a simple way to fix these issues, and you can do it in three simple steps!
But before we get to the nuts and bolts of the process, let’s explore a bit about how it actually works.
How Does This Method Work?
This method uses white vinegar and baking soda to dissolve all of the problem-causing buildup lurking in your towels. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps to break up mineral deposits and dissolve all sorts of grime. And baking soda is alkaline in nature, which helps to neutralize odors while dissolving dirt and grease!
Using them back-to-back as outlined below is an easy way to eliminate several potential sources of odor and buildup as efficiently as possible! And here’s how you can do it at home.
How To Fix Smelly Towels In 3 Steps
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda
Step 1 – Vinegar Wash
Place the towels in your washing machine along with 1 cup of white vinegar. Start a wash cycle on the hottest water setting your machine offers.
Step 2 – Baking Soda Wash
Once the the wash cycle is done, leave the towels in the washing machine. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda over the towels, and start a second hot water wash cycle.
Step 3 – Dry Completely
After the second wash is finished, make sure to dry your towels THOROUGHLY. You can put them in the dryer, hang them on a clothesline, or whatever you prefer.
This one-two punch of vinegar and baking soda should take care of most mildew and odor problems. If the towels still smell a bit funky after doing all three steps, repeating the three steps again should take care of it. (I also want to note that this method is a cleaning treatment, and shouldn’t be used as an everyday wash method.)
Now that you know how to restore freshness to your towels, let’s discuss how to keep them that way! :-) Here are a few tips for keeping your towels clean and smelling fresh.
My Top Towel Tips!
- Make sure that your towels are completely dry before folding them and putting them away. Even a small amount of moisture can make towels smell sour!
- After drying off after a bath or shower, make sure to hang your towel up to dry. (And your hang up your bathmat to dry too, while you’re at it!)
- Be sure you’re using the correct amount of detergent. Excess detergent leaves behind a residue on towels, especially in high-efficiency washers that use less water.
- Never use fabric softener on towels. Fabric softener residue will quickly make your towels less absorbent. Instead, add white vinegar to the rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener! It will leave your towels soft while preventing buildup and eliminating static.
Have you ever experienced “smelly towel syndrome” before with your towels?