How to Get Smells Out of Towels (3 Steps)

how to get mildew smell out of towels

This morning, when you got out of the shower, did you get a sour smell from your towel? You put it in the washing machine with loads of detergent, washed, dried, and folded it. This evening you noticed the same smell on the towel, and now you think that all of your hard work was just in vain. Think that this must be the end of your favorite towel and planning on purchasing a new one? Then hold on for a minute – we have something to tell you.

The root cause of a smelly towel or a towel that is less absorbent is the buildup of detergent and fabric softeners. Since towels are meant to be highly absorbent, sometimes washing machines or even our own hands fail to rinse out all of the fabric softener and detergent residue. The residue that the water fails to rinse out builds over time. The buildup in the towel grows
fungus and attracts mildew, which eventually has the potential to “waterproof” your very absorbent towels as well. This is the reason your towels get smelly from washing and using them. But there are ways to make your towels smell fresh as new, and we are going to show you the process below.

How to Get the Musty Smell Out of Towels – Step by Step Directions:

Things you will need:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Step 1: White Vinegar Wash

Collect all of the towels that you find smelly and place them in the washing machine. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar onto the towels and start the wash cycle. The water temperature should be as high as the machine offers.

Caution: You use towels to clean different sorts of things. Plus, there are varieties of towels: some are used for the bath and some for sanitary reasons. All of these towels carry different sorts of bacteria and germs. Therefore, you should take some time and separate these before you throw all of your towels into the machine. Doing this reduces the chance of the cross-contamination of dust and debris during the cleaning process. Just think: you are mixing the bathroom towel with the kitchen cleaning towel.The kitchen cleaning towel leaves oil and stickiness in the cleaning process and can get stuck to the bathroom towel. So, separate the towels before cleaning them in the washing machine.

It is also advised that you separate towels by color. For example, white towels should be washed completely separate from colored towels to avoid any sort of discoloration.

Step 2: Baking Soda Wash

Once the first wash is done, keep the towels inside the machine. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the towels and begin the second wash. Again, the water temperature should be as high as possible.

Step 3: Dry Fully

When you are done with the baking soda wash, take the towels out of the machine and give them a good shake. This will enhance the absorbency by fluffing the terry loops. This also helps to prevent the towel from turning into a ball after the wash.

It’s time to dry them completely; you can hang them on a clothesline to air dry or place them in the dryer, whichever you find most convenient. However, refrain from ironing them with the highest heat, as this fries the polyester in the towel. This leaves the towel feeling crusty, hard, and stiff.

White Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

This double wash method involves white vinegar and baking soda, which are scientifically proven to break down the bonds of buildup inside the towel. Vinegar has acetic acid which is known to dissolve grime, oil and separate mineral deposits from the towel fabric. Baking soda, on the other hand, is very alkaline in its original state. This alkaline status helps to neutralize the smelliness or odor by dissolving any germs, dirt, or grease.

Using these two powerful ingredients back-to-back as directed above is the ultimate way to eliminate sources of smell causing bacteria and any buildup as effectively as possible.

These three steps are enough to keep the towel smelling fresh and odor-free. If the towel still smells bad, redoing the steps again will definitely take care of the smelly-towel problem. However, bear in mind that this cleaning method is applicable for an occasional washing treatment only and is not a replacement for a regular cleaning method.

How Often We Need to Wash Towels

Stop thinking about the frequency of washing and wash your towel every time you feel that it’s necessary. On a standard note, it is advised to wash towels every three to four days.

Now, once your towel is smelling good and fresh, let’s look at some points that you should avoid to keep it smelling fresh for the longest time.

  • Every time you wash a towel, dry it thoroughly. Even a slightly damp towel can attract mildew.
  • When there is way too much moisture in the surrounding area, there is a high chance that fungus will grow inside the towel. This also prevents the towel from drying completely.
  • After using, ask children (or adults) to spread the damp towel in an airy space. Leaving them on the floor, rolling them and tossing them around like a football is never going to keep the towel fresh, you know!
  • Avoid using fabric softener or any chemicals that make the towel smell “fresh.” Remember, this clogs the pores of towels, which attract dust and debris. It also blocks the towel’s ability to absorb liquid. It basically hampers all of the purposes of using a towel.

Final Words

Every time you find a smelly towel, follow the above-mentioned steps to get a crisp, fresh smelling towel. However, while you are doing so, don’t get too tempted to use baking soda and vinegar together thinking that you are saving a step! You may end up with a frothy volcano erupting inside the washing machine! There goes the saving of steps…

So, stick to the basics and enjoy our simple yet effective ideas.