My towels always smell stale even after they have been washed. I tried baking soda in the washing machine but that didn't work. Are there any other ideas for getting the stale smell out of towels and wash rags?
Kristi from Warrensburg, MO
White vinegar works great. I use it on towels and especially for rags that have been to clean up in garage and it works. (08/23/2006)
If I remember correctly, the water at Warrensburg is kind of sulpherish to begin with. College water fountains were yuck! Having lived in El Dorado Springs now for quite some time with horrible water (sulfur big time) I can tell you it doesn't help your wash. I used borateem or washing soda (not baking soda) in the wash and vinegar in the rinse and hung the towels outside as often as I could. I always let towels dry on the side of the hamper or on the towel rack before throwing in the laundry due to mold and mildew. I now have a front-loading washer and I'm not too thrilled with it either. I always run two rinses and make sure I'm not using too much soap. Where is the savings in that? That is why I bought front loading to begin with - to save water and electricity. Good luck Carla in Missouri (08/24/2006)
By Carla Bledsoe
I was told by a repair man that they reason my towels smell musty is because of the use of fabric softener. It basically puts a coat on the material and therefore makes it less absorbent. He strongly advises not to use liquid softener. (08/24/2006)
If you have a front loader only use HE detergent or you could end up with costly repairs. Also, I was told by the repairman to use Calgonate Water Softener to keep the mold from forming in front loaders. I put it in my bleach dispenser. (08/25/2006)
I found this site yesterday, looking for info on front loaders having musty smell issues. I have a one year old frontloader, frigidaire model, that has basically had a musty smell within weeks of buying. Despite getting inside of it and cleaning like a crazy person, and bleaching everything. I took lots of ideas from this site and want to say thanks. My towels and my washer finally stopped smelling damp today. First, I bought "glisten", it's a dishwasher treatment powder for cleaning the walls of your dishwasher, near the jet dry products, ran it in the hot cycle. Then right in the drum put 2 cups of baking soda and then filled all the dispensers with vinegar. I ran it again on hot. I left the door open all night and in the morning, thank god! It was gone. i had tried straight bleach before but that never lasted more than one wash. So today I started doing my laundry a new way, with HE tide and 1/3 cup baking soda in the dispenser for soap and a little white vinegar in the spot softener would go. The clothes smell great even when damp. I miss the smell of fabric softener, but I do believe after reading this whole post that it is horrible for the machines and your clothing. I used the dryer sheets and it worked fine. Good luck. I never thought the smell would go away. (08/25/2006)
By washing machine nightmare!
A few months ago I found this forum and tried a few of the suggestion that you all put out. I am a mechanic and the first thing I did was to remove the rubber seal. (Don't try this; comes out easy, but a bear to put back in!) Like everyone said the build up of brown film was terrible. I cleaned the seal, re-installed it and cleaned the machine with bleach and hot water. Bought Odoban and used it with the towels.
It was great! The towels for the first time smelled great and I could work outside and sweat and not get embarrassed by the smell that came from my shirt.
HOWEVER, the smell is back. We have tried everything, just short of pulling out the seal again to get the smell out! I noticed that they advertised the 'New' duets with steam in them. That leads me to believe that they realize that they have a problem and are trying to address this problem.
Question: Has anybody tied to use a steam cleaner to clean around the seal and into the outer drum? I don't have one, but in might be worth a try. Let me know.
By the way, we own a Sears Kenmore "Tumble Action Washer" front loader. I contemplating putting the washer in the back of my truck and putting a sign on it to get others to talk about it. I'll refer to this web page. I bet sales will go down. (08/26/2006)
Okay, I've read all these posts looking for an answer to my problem. I have a Whirlpool Calypso and not only do my towels and clothes stink the washer itself smells. At first I blamed my husband for putting wet towels into the clothes hamper instead of the towel hamper. Then when the washer itself started to smell it was making everything stink. I was ready to buy all new bath and kitchen towels assuming that I would never get the smell out of them but when I realized the washer smelled without anything in it I decided to try to fix that issue first. I am still trying. So far I've used vinegar on the hottest, longest, extra soak, extra spin cycle possible. It helped just a little. Then I ran it without anything, then with oxyclean and Tide He, then with Oxyclean in the fabric softener and detergent dispensers. That cycle is still in process but if it doesn't smell better after this step I will be headed to the store to find every product suggested below from the borax to baking soda. I always thought it was the towels but I think the idea about the build up makes a lot more sense. My husband is a quick study so when I told him to pay attention to where he put the dirty towels he did. So I don't buy the comments about the mildew already being present before it goes to the washer. They smell clean when they come out of the dryer and even when I go to use them but the second I wet a washcloth or kitchen rag the smell comes back immediately. That can't be because of where it's stored as it would smell prior to being wet. It also can't be because I didn't let them dry before it went to the hamper. The only thing that makes sense is the washer. I will let you know what it finally takes to get the smell out. Then I will be washing every single article of clothing and towel in our home. (08/26/2006)
I also have a Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer and have had other issues with both. My main concern is the black mold imbedded into the rubber boot. I have always left the washer door open after each use. I even used to dry it off after each load but that got to be a hassle. I do not use fabric softener and I always use vinegar in the rinse. I think these are so poorly designed that they are guaranteed to mold, even with the best precautions. It is impossible to get this imbedded mold out, the rubber seal must be replaced and then redesigned. We need this resolved Whirlpool! (08/27/2006)
I too am disgusted by the smell in my laundry room. I am really 'choked' when I think of how much money I spent on this darn Whirlpool Duet. I will try some of your suggestions but I think we'll find they are a temporary fix. I'm sure the real problem is a design flaw. Thank you to all of you who took the time to post your ideas! (08/27/2006)
By Darylene from Canada
I have a front loading washer about 4 years old and noticed the same problem with towels. Here was what I did to solve the problem - 1. No liquid fabric softener. 2. Leave the door ajar after using. 3. Bleach - always - I have gradually replaced all my towels with white ones. If you have colored ones you might just have to decide whether it is worse to have them fade or to have the smell. Remember when you use bleach to be careful not to use ammonia as well. 4. I hang the wash on the line whenever possible. Luckily I enjoy hanging wash! 5. NEVER leave clothes in the washer when they are done washing, especially in the summer. The smell is hard to get rid of once you do this. It might take several washings. Good Luck! (08/28/2006)
I just bought some Odoban but am not sure how to use it. Do I put it in the washer with the towels or use it to clean my machine? One person said to use a cup in the rinse. I read elsewhere that you only need a few ounces. (08/28/2006)
We have a top loading washer that we've had for several years. When we lived in CA, no problems, but since moving to Hawaii, we're experiencing the stinky towel problem. I think it's due to the humidity and the fact that we have new "plush" towels that take longer to dry, regardless of the climate. I'm trying the ammonia/vinegar ideas in various combinations hoping to be rid of the smell. Some of the towels seem to be odor free now - the biggest problem is the tubmat. At least knowing it's not just my imagination and I'm not the only one with this problem provides some comfort. (08/28/2006)
My fellow "stinky towel" owners:
The answer is simple if you follow these instructions
1) Load washing machine with towels
2) Fill tub with water
3) Add Tide with Bleach (POWDER, not liquid)
4) Agitate for several minutes then turn off machine
5) Let towels soak for 30 minutes
6) Restart machine and add Liquid Clorox bleach (approx. 1/2 cup followed with same amount of water to dilute)
7) Dry (use 2 dryer sheets)
Ta Da (08/31/2006)
By The Laundress
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