Cleaning Stinky Towels

There are a number of products that can be used to clean stinky towels, including ones you probably already have around the house. This is a guide about cleaning stinky towels.

Laundry Basket Full of Dirty Towels
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Question: Mildew Smell on Towels

By Jayne DePaepe 1

How do you remove the mildew smell from towels. They smell OK until they get used again after a shower. The towels are cotton.

Jayne from Minneapolis, MN

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Most Recent Answer

By valerie johnson 1 Flag

September 17, 2009

OMG, I read somewhere on the internet that liquid Tide is the problem, which is what I was using. I also read about a homemade laundry detergent consisting of 1 box of borax, 1 box of washing soda and 1 bar of Feldsnap soap shaved and mixed in. I made this and washed my towels and with just one wash, no more bad smell after using the towels. I also had the problem with some t-shirts as they were drying when hung up wet. I've tried a commercial powder detergent and it seems to work. I have an older top load washer. No more liquid Tide for me!

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Tip: Odoban for Musty Odors

By Erika 14 1

I use "OdoBan" in my final rinse. It makes towels, (and all my laundry) smell fresh wonderful. For stubborn musty odors in clothing, I turn off the washer, and let the final rinse soak for thirty minutes or so.

It is inexpensive ($10 for a full gallon jug plus a 24 oz refillable spray bottle). It has too many uses to mention. It is not a masking agent. It eliminates all odors and kills 99.99% of germs. With six dogs, I wouldn't be without it.

By Erika from Tallahassee, FL

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Question: Stinky Towels

By Electra 1

Why do my towels still smell after washing and drying immediately?

By Electra from Lebanon, OH

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Most Recent Answer

By Paulette Gulakowski 7 177 Flag

October 19, 2011

I had a similar problem and discovered that I wasn't getting my towels dry enough before taking them out of the dryer. They were getting a musty/mildewy sort of smell folded in the cupboard. Now, I leave them in the dryer (I use the highest heat setting) an extra 10-15 minutes after it says they are dry. The problem is gone.

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Question: Towels Smell After Washing

By Barbara 6 1

What am I doing wrong? My towels smell after washing, when I leave them in the basket down in the cellar. Will those new detergent boosters work? Fabric softener sheets do not seem to work.

By Barbara W. from OH

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Best Answer

By TheThreadLady 1 8 Flag

March 6, 2012

Vinegar is my solution for smelly towels and I have found that when I bought a front loading washer I was using way too much soap. I have cut way back and use the kind of detergent meant for front load washers but I still run all my washed clothes and towels through an extra rinse.

By the way, do not use dryer sheets or fabric softener on your towels. That may seem odd, but the dryer sheets and fabric softeners make the towels not as absorbent, so they don't dry you off as well. My husband read about this tip in our local paper and I tried it and my towels are much, much more absorbent, yet they still feel soft in spite of not using a dryer sheet in the load!

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Tip: Vinegar in the Rinse Cycle

By Donna S. 4 15

My child is always leaving towels lying around on the floor, or the furniture. They are never dry when she drops them where she does.

I have found that if I put a Downy ball full of apple cider vinegar in the washer for the rinse cycle, it leaves the towels fresher longer, even when they are wet and lying on the floor.

Source: I don't remember where I got this idea, but it has been many, many years.

By Donna S. from Beatrice, NE

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Question: Cleaning Smelly Towels

By Sharon Ott 1

What can I put in the washing machine when washing towels and washcloths to eliminate a strange odor that occurs when using them. I have tried baking soda, Biz, vinegar, and cannot get them to smell nice and fresh.

By Sharon

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Most Recent Answer

By Leti 1 1 Flag

March 3, 2012

I once had problems removing the odor or residue on used towels. I then decided to use Simple Green, since the label on the bottle indicated that it was also a "degreaser." I then decided to wash my towels in hot water, add some Simple Green and a little baking soda, and that solved my problem. Depending on how soiled the towels are, you might want to soak them first, then wash them through a complete cycle. I also use the same technique to take out the black oil out of my towels which I use to wash my car.

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Question: Musty Smell on Laundered Towels and Wash Cloths

By Franolson 1

I have relatively new towels and wash cloths that are stinky. What can I do to get rid of the odor?

By Fran from Palm Springs, CA

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Most Recent Answer

By Frances Adams 11 554 Flag

May 10, 2011

Ours does that from time to time, hubby says it is because all of the detergent, and some water doesn't sling out in the spin, sits in the washer, and gets musty smelling. The baking soda and vinegar worked well for us, as well reducing the number of towels per load, and making sure they didn't sit in either the washer or dryer after the cycle was done.

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Question: Clothes Smell Spoiled After Washing and Drying

I have well water and all the laundry after a wash and dry is fine, but if it ever gets damp again from sweating or anything it then has a very rotten spoiled smell to the clothing. My husband's shirts after work smell like rot, what can I put in the wash to keep this from happening?

By Stephanie

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Most Recent Answer

By BonnieAlice 13 83 Flag

November 16, 2011

About that lemon ammonia in your towels - in the wash or rinse? I have a front loader & use minimal Tide. My towels don't smell anymore, but they don't smell "pretty" either.

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Tip: Cleaning Stinky Facecloths and Towels

By Elfy 1

My facecloths were getting to the point of making me want to vomit from the smell they gave off once wet. I found that lots of people are having this problem. I noticed that it was worse if they were not left for enough time in the dryer!

This all started when I started to use liquid washing soaps. So I went back to powder and hot water and a soak for facecloths, towels, and sheets. I also use a similar process for the dishwashing and cleaning cloths we use. I use gel Javex and powdered soap in hot water, to kill those nasty bacteria because cold water "does not" kill any of that.

Well to my total amazement after the first wash all smells have disappeared completely. They are back to smelling like cloth should smell. I am so happy I got rid of it. Believe me, I tried everything (vinegar, soda, soda wash, and so on and so forth). I was thinking of buying new everything again, but I had changed everything last year. The problem is now solved, try it!

By Elfy from Quebec, Qc. Canada

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Question: Garlic Smell in Towels

I wiped something up with a towel and did not realize it was garlic and washed it with the other towels now I can't get the smell out. What do I use to get it out?

By nastassja

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By Debbie 4 18 Flag

February 7, 2012

Vinegar would probably take the smell out. I would use it during the rinse cycle. The vinegar smell won't last. It evaporates. Good luck:)

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Tip: Use Tomato Juice to Remove Mildew Smells

Removing mildew smell from towels: Even, large, dark colored ones that can't be bleached. Soak the towels in 50% diluted tomato juice for two or three hours, run the wash cycle to be sure the towels are completely saturated, then rinse two or three times in cold water. Dry thoroughly. No more smell, even when wet.

Source: My father and grandfather used tomato juice to rid the dogs of smell from skunks, I figured it would work with mildew and towels. And it does

By Laurayne from Pahrump, NV

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Archive: Stinky Towels?

I need help getting that Funky smell out of towels. No detergent seems to do it.It seems like as soon as they get wet they smell dirty. I've tried Oxy Clean, Febreze for Laundry, Vinegar, Pinesol & several different detergents. All suggestions are appreciated.



RE: Stinky Towels?

What works for me is borax or Borateem. Follow the directions on the box. It gets rid of odors that other things miss. Also, hanging them in the sun for a while will help. (02/27/2001)

By Susan

RE: Stinky Towels?

All you need to do is wash your towels in hot water with 1 cup of baking soda! I do this for towels and beach wear that has sat in the beach bag too long! Works like a charm! (03/02/2001)

By Diane - Muskegon, MI

RE: Stinky Towels?

My thought is how the towel has gotten to the "stinky smell" to begin with. Are you putting the wet towels in the clothes hamper while still wet so they can mildew before you wash them? In all my married 46 years, I have not had this problem. We make sure the towel is dry before we put it in the hamper to be washed. Some of my recommendations would be to use vinegar, ammonia etc. in the rinse water. I think the problem to address is how you are treating your towels after each use. (03/03/2001)

By sydfred

RE: Stinky Towels?

My towels are really big and my washer wasn't washing them very well. They wreaked, even the washcloths. When my washer finally gave out, we got a smaller capacity one given to us. No more smell. Might be that the washer just can't handle so many at a time. Try cutting load in 1/4 or 1/2 and add vinegar to rinse. Mine smell clean now! (03/03/2001)

RE: Stinky Towels?

I found that by adding a little of ammonia, and a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the load, no more odors. Just don't mix ammonia with bleach!(03/04/2001)

By marbles

RE: Stinky Towels?

I've had success using either borax or washing soda in addition to detergent (I use Tide at half the recommended amount), and hot water. The combination seems to zap the bacteria that cause the stinky odors. (03/04/2001)

By Lynn

RE: Stinky Towels?

Are the towels sitting in the machine after they are done washing? One hot summer day, I washed a load of towels and forgot about them. I hung them out the next day, but when I went to put them away, I noticed they had a sour smell. There was no mildew stains, only the off smell. If the weather is hot, this would probably happen pretty fast. (03/20/2001)

By mcnare

RE: Stinky Towels?

I've had good luck with adding baking soda to the laundry detergent. You could also try sprinkling some baking soda in the bottom of your clothes hamper or basket where you store dirty clothes waiting to be washed. (05/18/2004)

By guest

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have the same problem as you. My towels always smell musty. I've tried many different detergents(in hot water) and they never smell fresh. The only thing that did work was fabric softener and it just covers up the smell. I want to get rid of the smell and have clean towels. I'm on a well. Are you? Maybe the hard water is causing it. (08/11/2004)

By Carol M

RE: Stinky Towels?

Musty smells are caused by damp. You need to pinpoint at what point are they getting and staying damp? This could just be damp in the air in your home. It happens generally in older badly ventilated properties. As mentioned, I think you need to put less in the washer to begin with then hang them straight out and make sure the cupboard you store them in isn't damp at all. By damp I don't mean wet, I mean is it musty in the cupboard? You could get some silica gel crystals or one of those trays of humidity soaking cells and put them where you store the towels. I'd also recommend opening your windows as often as possible because it sounds like you might need more fresh air circulating. You might also want to try drying your towels on a radiator till they are totally bone dry. If they then smell when you next get them out of the cupboard, that's your problem and you'll need to clean it out, air it and dry it out totally, or find somewhere else to put them.

I hope that helps some. (08/14/2004)

By Chickybiker

RE: Stinky Towels?

I once had this problem. Now I always add a 1/4 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of my washer - I put it in the softener dispenser. This works great.

I also threw away all my wash cloths and gradually bought WHITE ones. Now I bleach them and they smell great - so clean. Walmart has bundles of white wash cloths for a very reasonable price. I think they come in bundles of 18 or 24 for less than $10.00 When they get stained I throw them out or use them to wash the car or other tasks around the house. I buy a new bundle every once in a while with the money I save using coupons. (08/19/2004)

By Susie Sims

RE: Stinky Towels?

My towels smell fine after I wash them, but as soon as they get wet they smell musty. This only started after I got the new whirlpool front loader that cost a fortune.I have tried everything nothing has worked!! I also live on a well but we have a water softener. (09/15/2004)

By Karen

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have the same problem with all my laundry - not just towels. I thought it might be many of the problems listed - wet laundry, too much time in the washer before moving to the dryer, etc. But I think it DOES have something to do with our front-loading washer. I NEVER had this problem before!! I ran a cycle with bleach and cleaned out the rubber bumper with bleach and it helped a little, but not completely. I'll try some of the suggestions above, such as Baking Soda. What a drag!! (09/16/2004)

By Sarah

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have noticed the same thing with the front loaders. I have a water softener and done all of the suggestions above, like bleach, borax, pine sole and baking soda. Stood there by the washer as the machine was done spinning and placed them into the dryer. I still found the smell. The only thing that I have found is leave the door open a bit to get fresh air in the drum, when you are done with the laundry. Let the wash drum dry between wash weeks. It appears that the washers hold water somewhere and the water turns sour and stinky. In turn the next item to be placed in the washer smells bad. I suggest leaving the door open a bit and let the the drum dry, and see what happens. I have noticed that the smell is gone.
Best of luck (09/16/2004)

By c4hobbs

RE: Stinky Towels?

I've stopped buying thick washcloths. When it's humid they never dry out completely from day to day and the stink ensues. I'm hand washing one right now. Hot water and soap, then rinse, then soak with hot water and baking soda, then rinse, then soak briefly with a little bleach, then hot water soak. My hands still stink with the sour smell. This is way too much effort for a washcloth! (I live in an apt and didn't want to put it in the hamper and have the stench infiltrate the other laundry.) (09/17/2004)

By guest

RE: Stinky Towels?

I too have a front loader- the musty smell there went away when I started using HE detergent. That is a must. Just using less regular detergent will NOT work. My current problem is that I recently went out and bought the thickest towels I could find. Apparently I have left them wet or damp at some point, now they smell terrible!! I can't bleach them, they are dark colored. I will, however, try the baking soda and see how that works! (10/16/2004)

By Anne R

RE: Stinky Towels?

This is an old topic, but maybe still relevant.

I dry my towels outside if at all possible. They do turn out kind of stiff, but I prefer that to the mushy softness of ones which have had too much fabric-softener. I do think a fabric softener "build up" on towels makes them "soggy". If you can't dry outside, then eliminate the fabric softener, or just use dryer sheets. (11/24/2004)

By Jean

RE: Stinky Towels?

That's it! I knew it was the front-loading machine! I have wondered if I even like how it cleans period -- even after the amount of money I spent on it. I thought I would try a small amount of bleach in the water every few washes. It kills the bacteria that is in the towel. Just washing it does not kill what's in the towel and so it's just keeps coming back. Also, the suggestions of drying the towel before putting it in the hamper is a good one. Not letting them sit wet in the washer for very long is a no-brainer, but putting them outside -especially in the summer -- till they are almost dry is great. Then you can dry them for a few minutes to remove the stiff feeling. Seems to have made a difference for me! (01/14/2005)

By Dee Dee J

RE: Stinky Towels?

I wouldn't be so quick to blame your front loader. I have a regular top-loader, and I've been on a quest for ever to figure out how to get that smell out. I even searched through this forum and nothing had worked - until now!
I'll tell you the combination of products I used...

*Hot water
*Tide with Bleach (which on it's own did not work)
*1 Spray n' Wash tablet (I believe this to be the key ingredient!!)
*Downey in the rinse

I had never thought to use the spray n' wash tablet, but then they caught my eye, sitting up there on my shelf. It couldn't hurt, and hey, if it could lift out a stain, why not a smell?? Well, it worked. My towels finally smell nice! Yay!

Good luck! Hope it works for you too! (03/15/2005)

By Kendra

RE: Stinky Towels?

A cup of Odoban in the rinse cycle will solve the odor problem and disinfect without bleaching. I specifically buy Odoban for the purpose of washing towels because I want them disinfected but cant bleach them cause they fade. Don't like to use fabric softeners cause they cause towels to be less absorbent. I get Odoban at Sams. (05/11/2005)

By jfin

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have a huge family and we just don't have room to hang all the towels and wash cloths to fully dry after we all shower. I wash the towels everyday, but they still have the musty smell and I have tried lots of stuff and just can't seem to shake the smell, as soon as they get wet it is right back. Bleach does work but my towels look awful after just a couple of times. I am gonna try the baking soda and see how that works. (05/20/2005)

By Gina

RE: Stinky Towels?

20 Mule Team Borax is the only thing that can really sweeten the laundry in my experience. ARDIS (05/22/2005)

By ardis barnes

RE: Stinky Towels?

I had the same problem. All the towels had a VERY bad smell. It intensified after every wash too! (No other laundry does it though...funny!) I tried the ODOBAN that someone else already mentioned. It is awesome!!!! The towels smell heavenly fresh again! OdoBan is not just a deodorizer, it is also kills 99 % of all germs. Only available at Sam's Club. I also have a water filter, which takes all the chlorine out. Good for the drinking water, but obviously no chlorine means "germy" laundry!!!!! Try the OdoBan, what a difference! Many Thanks to the person who had this idea earlier! (06/12/2005)

By buzymom

RE: Stinky Towels?

Our Whirlpool Duet Washer/Dryer, between the 2, have produce a musty and/or burnt smell in our towels (mostly).

After reading your issues my wife pulled back the Door Seal on our Whirlpool Duet Wash Machine and discovered two socks that looked to have been there for quite some time. Also there was red mold and some lint built up. She is wiping it down with a bleach solution right now. Thank you all for your comments! Sincerely, (06/18/2005)

By Whirlpool FrontLoad Owner

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have tried pretty many combinations - Baking soda, vinegar, Tide w/Downey - even Simple Green. For a fabric softener, I use Downey and fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Nothing has eliminated the stinky smell on my towels and wash cloths. They are not put in the hamper wet and they are not left in the wash machine for any length of time to cause them to smell. We have a Maytag top loading wash machine. Have only used Maytag washers and dryers . So I don't think it's any particular machine. The Queen of Clean recommends cleaning your machine periodically. Fill tub with hot water and 2 cups of bleach - let go thru cycle but not spin cycle. Fill again with hot water and 2 cups white vinegar and let go thru cycle but not spin cycle . this might help some of you - it could be a start . I have picked up some suggestions that I will surely try. One of them being Odoban. Thanks for the help (06/18/2005)

By Barbara

RE: Stinky Towels?

I tried the bleach with a Spray and Wash tablet yesterday and they seem to smell a bit better. I also did a smaller load that normal, but with a full load of water to allow for better agitation and better movement in the dryer.

Next time I will try the baking soda.

I ALWAYS use good quality liquid fabric softener and still developed the problem, so I don't think that using fabric softener helps much. In fact, I think overuse of it might make it worse as it gives bacteria a breeding ground. (06/19/2005)

By Tracey

Duet Smells Bad

This machine has a design problem. There are just too many complaints. So now the question is how do we get a fix from the mfg.. I will call them and ask for one. If I don't get a fix I think a class action is in order. (07/02/2005)

By chris a

RE: Stinky Towels?

We have a top load. the smell started with the dish clothes but is now in most of our thicker towels. I have read some of the suggestions and will try them. (07/27/2005)

By David

RE: Stinky Towels?

We bought our Duet in April 2004 and was wonderful until lately, when I started smelling something like stagnant water and my towels started smelling. I was embarrassed when my sister came down and noticed a smell coming from the laundry room, she said "What's that smell", she's the one who pointed out that it was coming from my washer....too much money to be going through this, trying to figure out what to use, how to clean a "washer" and what not to use.....look at all these complaints! And no, we don't put wet towels in the hamper....and if we did, this washer should be able to clean them! I'll never spend $1,000 on a Whirlpool product again! (07/31/2005)

By Stacie

RE: Stinky Towels?

Finally I find I am not the only one experiencing this problem with stinky towels. Without doubt, it is related to my front loading Whirlpool Duet washing machine. I thought I was washing too many towels(8 to 10) but even washing only five the smell was bad. I looked in the manual for trouble shooting and checked all the hoses and I found within the front lip seal there was a sock that had been there for some time with a terrible odor. I claimed victory. The next load or two seemed better and I thought the smell would work it's way out with usage. I have a family of 8 so the machine gets a lot of usage. I have never had problems with smelly towels before this machine. I have owned the machine for 9 months and started experiencing problems with it about 3 months ago. I called the OEM and the customer representative asked if I had used the HE detergents. I have not used the HE detergent however I have used 1/2 of the normal amount of regular detergents. The manual does not indicate I will have mold problems if I do not use the HE detergents, only that the HE will clean better and not be as sudsy. My machine has gone into the "SUD" mode only once since I have owned it and that was when I put 3 times the detergent in to see if it helped the towels smell any better. The towels are so bad now most everyone on our home would rather air dry than use one. I've joked with my husband that I believe if I purchase a new towel for each individual to use for two weeks and then throw it away that it would be even more energy efficient and smell a whole lot better.

After reading these posts I will definitely be buying a membership to Sam's for the odor product.

I am very disappointed in the Whirlpool Duet Front Loading Automatic Washer. (08/02/2005)

By Cheri

RE: Stinky Towels?

I'm a servicer for whirlpool and I have found that the reason the washer starts to smell is because soap suds left in outer tub after wash is complete. Your not able to see them or get to them because their in the outer tub. The suds build up and start to mold and smell. The reason for the suds is using to much soap.

To keep this from happening, you need to use a 1/3 amount of tide as is recommended on the product. To clean your washer out, pour 2 cups of bleach into tub and run on whitest of whites. Then run through the same cycle without bleach and problem should be fixed. You might also leave the door open 45 min's after done with washing to let inside dry out. (08/03/2005)


RE: Stinky Towels?

I used to have this problem, until I went with all white towels and started using Bleach on them. Now I never have a "stinky" towel! (08/03/2005)

By jenjoejace

RE: Stinky Towels?

FABRIC SOFTNER could be the culprit!

I learned from the Fisher & Paykal website (, in their laundry area, that FABRIC SOFTNER, when used in COLD or WARM wash water actually leaves a WAXY FILM on the surfaces of your washer. It doesn't collect on the INSIDE of the drum as your laundry wipes it off, but that film can accumulate on the outside of your drum, as well as other parts in contact with the fabric softener-treated water. Over time, this film adds to itself with bits of lint, dirt and debris and eventually begins to hold moisture for extended periods of time. This SLUDGE is perfect breeding ground for MOLD and MILDEW! All it may take is one load to go sour in the washer to begin the formation...

Think about it! Doesn't that fabric softener dispenser get NASTY after a period of time? If it leaves deposits on your laundry after cleaning (its intended purpose), it is likely it will leave deposits in the uncleanable areas of your washer as well...

Front loaders, especially the Whirlpool Duet, seem especially prone to this, where the infestation usually STARTS from a dirty, wet gasket.

So, now that I have my new BOSCH Next front-loader, I have swore that not a drop of liquid fabric softener will ever enter that washer, even though there is a dispenser for it. Plus I will leave the door cracked open and the top soap lid open to allow air flow and a path for evaporation. I hope that will stop any SMELL problems brought about by mold or mildew by keeping mold and mildew out of the washer in the first place. I love a front-load washer and will always use one... but it may require a laundry re-education for some as most use it like those ineffective, inefficient top loaders.

Don't look for washer manufacturer's to address this problem anytime soon as the MARKET demands dispensers and wash cycles geared for fabric softeners, there is no changing this until the word gets out. The true solution is for a better, more washer-friendly softener to be invented... or just use dryer sheets as I am now doing.


By rmplstlskn

RE: Stinky Towels?

I've had a Kenmore Elite HE3 (front loader) for about two years now. Our towels have been smelly for about the last year, but it's getting worse. I always leave the door wide open and the drum itself does not smell bad. Once I wash a load of towels in hot water with regular detergent, they smell fine. After the first use, they smell horrible. Almost like a nasty chemical burn smell.

I can pull back my seal around the outside of the drum but it looks clean. I reached around the edges and it all appears to be clean as well. I've always used Downy in the fabric softener compartment. This source of the smell must be collecting somewhere else.

I'm running the washer on 'Whitest Whites' with a cup of bleach in the drum right now. I'm going to buy some Tide HE today and wash our towels again and see if that helps. Are there any other suggestions? (08/10/2005)

By Nate

RE: Stinky Towels?

Whew! Talk about stinky. Our towels smelled like mildew and almost like cat urine sometimes as soon as you started drying off with them. It was disgusting! Thank you for this website. This is what I did to fix my problem. I first cleaned my washer. I checked the lip of my washer and found black goo and mold. I used a spray bottle of bleach to get all the unreachable spaces. I ran my washer on hot water and a cup of bleach as a super size load, power wash. Then again with just water. I repeated this including spraying the goo with bleach several times. I think I even did a few cycles with bleach and a cup of baking soda and vinegar. I kinda combined all that i had read and tried it all. At last the washer is clean. Then, I changed from Arm n Hammer laundry soap to "Tide with a touch of Downy." I now wash the towels and my husbands sweaty gross clothes in the Tide along with a cup of white vinegar and a half cup of baking soda. After a couple washes, we are now using our towels up to three times before they start smelling used. The towels and my husbands sweaty clothes actually smell good! It's all really crazy that we all have this problem. Hope this helps someone out there. Thanks to all of you for your remedies using Tide, vinegar, baking soda, cleaning the washer with bleach, etc. Our house is smelling good again! (08/10/2005)

By kdrennon

RE: Stinky Towels?

Glad i found this site, every day since our new duet washer, I get out of the shower towel dry, and then "that smell",,, you just gotta love this $1300 smelly towel making machine, where is whirlpool after the sale? (08/11/2005)

By Tim.

RE: Stinky Towels?

They say 1/2 a cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle (in wash cycle if you use liquid detergent)should take away the smell. I haven't tried it yet though. Ask me tomorrow. (08/14/2005)

By The Big Kid

RE: Stinky Towels?

FABRIC SOFTNER seems to be the culprit. What Kdrennon I also have done- it seems to have cleared up the smell. I got away with 2 to 3 cups of Bleach and spraying the unreachable places as well. Try to get all the black/ brown pasty build up from right under the lip of the tub. I used a qtip to get mine. Its the area outside the tub ( not just the rubber seal , that as well needs constant cleaning.) Then of course clean the rubber seal on top and behind. My service man said don't use Softener if possible. He said its very common and it would really help if you use half the detergent your using and no softener ( I however like the smell of softener so will continue to use it but plan on weekly running a couple of cycles of super hot water on the longest cycle with about 2-3 cups of bleach, directly put in the tub, I splash it around the walls when I put it in there) to keep the mildew - mold from building up ( with no clothes). I also keep my washer door open. Hope this helps. Take Care and good luck (08/14/2005)

By Lesaintn

RE: Stinky Towels?

Have you tried baking soda? I think that helps a little if used in hot water. Also for white towels you can use bleach and that kills that smell also. I notice the more expensive thicker towels get that smell worse than cheaper ones. It's almost like once the smell arrives there is no getting it out! (08/17/2005)

By Krysta

RE: Stinky Towels?

We have the Calypso which is I believe the upright version of the Duet. Terrible. Really expensive and does a terrible job. We hate both the washer and the dryer. These things are the last whirlpool products we buy. But I digress.
I'm glad I found this forum. I thought it was just me. My wife was blaming me for not showing properly. One use and our towels stink. I appreciate all the suggestions and will try them immediately. And yes I stuck my head inside our washer it smells awful. That's step number one.

Thanks for the help everyone.

By Alan Youngblood

RE: Stinky Towels?

I hate my Whirlpool Duet. I am thinking about filing a class action lawsuit, if there is not one filed yet. My towels stink so bad that most of the time I am left standing in the shower dripping dry because I don't want my skin to smell bad! Before I bought my Whirlpool I had a Maytag Neptune front loader and that was only 6 months old and I gave it away because it too stunk like mildew! I have tried bleach, baking soda, vinegar, I never use fabric softener anymore and use very little detergent. I will try the ODOBAN. If there are any other suggestions please let me know! (09/26/2005)


Stinky Towels?

Wow, I never expected to find this forum when I performed a google search for "Smelly Towels". I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one having the problem. My wife thought that I was crazy and that the smell was a figment of my imagination. I sometimes have to go through 2 or 3 towels out of the shower to find one that doesn't stink. I'm sure they all stink, each subsequent towel just gets a little less wet, and thus a little less smelly. The smell doesn't seem to appear until they get wet. I laughed pretty hard reading through all of these posts. Now, I know it's not just me. I agree that Whirlpool should resolve this, I have never had this problem with any previous washers. You expect your clothes clean and fresh when you wash them and you don't always get that with the whirlpool. It just makes 'em smelly! (09/27/2005)

By Rob Bennett

RE: Stinky Towels?

I am also a 9 month owner of the Whirlpool duet and approximately 3 months ago my towels started smelling like mildew as soon as they became wet. I have never used fabric softener and have always used the manufacturer's recommended HE detergent (Tide). When I am working out at the gym, as soon as my shirt becomes a little moist the mildew odor begins to permeate. Any suggestions to resolving this problem would be greatly appreciated. (09/28/2005)

By Dennis M.

RE: Stinky Towels?

I'd love to see us all call Whirlpool and complain - Have we all? Maybe they'll do a recall ? I doubt it but it won't hurt - I'm calling (again) tomorrow - and If one more person asks us if we're using hot water I'm going to scream - we're not stupid - just tired of these expensive machines and their smell... Besides - I've used cold water on most of my clothes for years - with cheaper machines - and never had this smell... DF (09/29/2005)

By froman

RE: Stinky Towels?

Has anyone tried Borax? I've used it with towels and my husbands workout clothes and it seems to work okay for a while. The stink in the towels comes back after the second (or so) use, however. Just wondering if anyone else has tried this. Perhaps it's just time for new towels... (10/05/2005)

By mimi

RE: Stinky Towels?

YES! ALL of our laundry smells like mildew now, 6 months after purchasing our Whirlpool Duet. It is beyond nasty, especially when the clothes are left to sit in it for any length of time. My family includes five kids and they are all complaining! I was told to keep the door is in our main thoroughfare to the back door,used all day. There won't be a door there if I leave it open! The customer service is just running me around and I would LOVE to join a class action suit if anybody knows of one being filed. I am pining for my 10 year old Kenmore!! (10/10/2005)

By Lizzy

RE: Stinky Towels?

I am SO glad to have found this forum... very frustrated with new Whirlpool Duet. Eight months old and STINKY. Can't believe we paid this much for a machine that stinks - literally! I cleaned out the dispenser compartment today and it was DISGUSTING. Does anyone know if whirlpool has made any kind of statement/response to this problem? (10/11/2005)

By Kristin

RE: Stinky Towels?

I to was plagued by a mildew or mold smell, especially in towels, worse when they got rewet. And I tried (like you) all of the above. Then I tried Hydrogen peroxide (3%) 2 16 oz bottles per large laundry load. They cost 50 cents a bottle and it is color safe. Well, it removed the smell completely, once and for all! I did every towel in the house and all cotton rugs too.

I reminded my husband that wet towels do NOT belong in a heap on the floor, especially in Florida! Maybe I can prevent a reoccurrence. But now I keep 4-6 bottles of Hydrogen peroxide 3% in the laundry room.. It removes blood better than anything else and can be used on most fabrics and all colors. (10/18/2005)

By Cat Somerville

RE: Stinky Towels?

One word: Odoban (available at SAM's Club)(b)(/b) - Hat's off to the earlier post that recommended this stuff.

We've had our Duet for about 2 1/2 years and had never cleaned it. I only recently began noticing the towels would stink after one use. I asked my wife to use more fabric softener to eliminate the smell but no luck. Then I stuck my head into the washer and found the real culprit.

After finding this web site, I tried everything else (pine-sol, bleach, vinegar, dishwasher detergent) and couldn't get rid of the smell. I did first have to use a little elbow grease and paper towels to thoroughly clean the gunk from the gasket and inner door. Then I ran a 'Soak' cycle with hot water after pouring a cup of Odoban into the tub. After that was complete I ran a 'Whitest Whites' cycle with a cup of Odoban in the tub and more Odoban in the detergent dispenser.

Incredible! No more odor! (10/22/2005)

By ddbhia

Whirlpool Duet Smells; Stinky Towels

WOW! The internet is sure a great way to solve problems that you think are only yours. My wife complained about our smelly Duet washer (only 9 months old) and I googled "smelly Duet" and found this site as well as a few others others. The fix for us was a Q-tip, Odoban from Sam's Club and filling the liquid detergent compartment no more than 1/3 full regardless of the type of detergent used. Clothes still come out SUPER clean. We were having all of the problems stated on this page. Even found an old sock behind the rubber seal and thought the problem was solved. The solution of using the Odoban from Sam's Club worked perfectly. We poured a bout 2 cups in the drum and ran it on Whitest Whites. Next we ran a Soak cycle. We also took a Q-tip and placed it in the gap of the drum behind the rubber seal and turned the drum by hand to see what we found. We did find a brown wax like substance but it had no smell. Not really sure if it was soap/softener build up, grease or a type of mold? Reading posts by Lesaitn is may be soap/softener build up. Great to know that there is a fix! Good luck to all. (11/03/2005)


RE: Stinky/Musty Towels?

My wife and I had the same problem. We had towels that were 10 years old that never smelled musty until our Duet Washer was about 1 year old, then the smell began. I searched the internet to find if others had the problem and it appears we were not alone.

But there is good news. We found a fix. My wife put a few table spoons of 20 Mule Team Borax (power) in with 1/2 a cup of Arm & Hammer Fabricare (also powder). The Arm and Hammer Fabricare box says: "Advanced Detergent + Baking Soda Deodorizer with color safe Bleach".

One time through the washer took 100% of the musty smell out of the towels. After reading all the blogs on this problem, we were very surprised it worked so quick and easy. (11/05/2005)

By Ron Mellema

RE: Stinky Towels?

I am so glad I found this site. I just got very irritated with my husband for commenting on the load of towels I just washed that smell sour. I've had my washer for 3 years and have tried every thing from baking soda, borax, vinegar, and even pine-sol. None of these have worked permanently. So, at least now my husband will know it's not just me. But I will say that keeping the door to the washer open is a must. It just stands to reason, this washer has a tight seal, the water would leak out the door if not. So, if you close it right after washing the moisture from the load will be trapped and of course cause mildew. I think my problem with the towels starts more from not getting them in the dryer quick enough. I live in a warm, humid climate, but sometimes get distracted with things and my wash might sit several hours. Again, I think the tight seal on the washer causes it to sour quicker. I am definitely going to try the Odoban. I did check the inside of my drum where others have said they found brown goo, I don't find any of that, so I'd guess keeping the door open might have helped that. It doesn't have to be wide open, just even an inch so some air can get in. (02/23/2006)


RE: Stinky Towels?

I loved finding this website and showing my wife that others have this same problem. Though it seems most of you have a problem with the specific washer you use. I have a Kenmore that we have had for 15years. The towels smell great until you go to use them. Some of the towels I can use for a week before ever smelling something wrong, others with one use they are bad. Not to mention that any towel my wife uses never smells. I am going to try a number of the ideas most of you have on here and see what happens. Thank You!! (02/25/2006)

By Greg

RE: Stinky Towels?

I am surprised that I am not just making the stinky towel syndrome up. Now, I know it exists! Wow! Thanks for all of the suggestions. I will try every one of them!( (03/11/2006)


RE: Stinky Towels?

Wow! What a great site this is! Ran the kitchen towels and dishcloths through a wash in the musty Duet with 2 cups Hydrogen Peroxide and a homemade laundry soap (non sudsing) from eBay. No more stinky dishcloths! They're easier to wring the water out of as well. Then ran all the bath towels and wash cloths through a cycle using the new soap and a cup of Odoban in the rinse. The towels now absorb water rather than move it around. No more stinky towels, either. Since we have HARD water here, I'm going to run a one-fourth cup of citric acid through an empty wash in case the hard water deposits are on the outer drum. 3 TBS of citric acid will clean a dishwasher and remove hard water deposits from glasses so I figure it'll do the same for the outer drum. I've also ordered some Charlie's Soap as mentioned elsewhere in this site. And of course, now I crack the washer door just a bit when laundry is done. Thanks everyone, for the great advice. It's working! (03/13/2006)

By e.l. booth

whirlpool duet stinks literally!

Whirlpool duet washer makes clothes smell like mildew. Someone start a class action. This should not be happening. Only 1 year old. I'm upset I spent so much. (03/23/2006)

By Sue Hinton

RE: Stinky Towels?

We just bought a big bottle of odorban at Sams club for about $10. It was on an endcap near the cleaning supplies. (04/09/2006)

By Alan Youngblood

RE: Stinky Towels?

Wow! I thought it was just my household that had this problem. We have the Kenmore Elite front loaders - like you - spent a fortune - and my towels smell horrible after washing/drying them. I recently had guests stay at my home - I had to pull out the beach towels from last year - they at least had never been in this machine and definitely smelled fresh. I actually dread using the towels. I even ran out and bought more towels - thinking that the problem was that my towels were two years old. Nope - same smell. I'm off to clean my machine and hit Sam's Club tonight! Thanks a bunch for everyone's info. (04/12/2006)

By Leslie

RE: Stinky Towels?

I'm so glad I found this forum. My stinky towels have been bothering me for awhile. We moved into a new house 1 1/2 yrs. ago & I was so excited because I got the Duet. I couldn't figure out why our towels & even dish cloths were smelling because they never did in our old house that was built in the 50's. I thought it had something to do with our closets. Now I know I'm not losing my mind & we're not the only ones out there with this problem.

I did a google search for ODOBAN & found the concentrate at Sam's Club & the Ready to Use at Wal-Mart. I'm guessing since people have said it's available at Sam's they're talking about the concentrate. Am I right? Is that what you're using in your washers? Just want to make sure before I go out & buy some. Anyone used the read to use for anything?

What a great forum to have. Thanks! (04/14/2006)

By Shelley (MN)

RE: Stinky Towels?

Wow, thanks for the great advice! I was just about to throw out several towels and washcloths. I am so tired of the sour smell they have. My regular clothes do not have a sour smell, just some of my towels and my sheets. They are perfectly good and I hated to throw them away, but I cannot take that irritating odor anymore! Off to buy some of the recommended products! Thanks! (04/14/2006)

By Dina

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have the same problem. When I called the repair number they told me to use vinegar or bleach with hot water and also to leave the door open when not in use. I pretty much have to do this at least once a week. But my laundry still smells bad. No one would help me regarding a return or exchange. Our washer and dryer are located in our garage and they said that the humidity (we live in South Carolina) might be the problem. What sucks is that every time you get out of the shower all clean you have to use a disgusting smelling towel to dry off and the smell stays with you. I am so disappointed. We can't afford to buy another washer. My 2 year old gets to have stinky clothes. I will never buy another Kenmore appliance. (05/06/2006)

By Lori

RE: Stinky Towels?

I'm all for anyone who wants to put together a class action lawsuit. I wouldn't know how to start it. If anyone has a phone number for Kenmore let me know. I will call them every day. I'm going out to Sam's to buy Odorban tomorrow. I am so glad to find out that I'm not alone with the stinky towel problem and that it's not just a lemon machine, although for the price I am beyond disappointed. (05/06/2006)

By Lori

RE: Stinky Towels?

I am happy to learn that there is a solution to the problem of stinky towels. Never did I think it was related to using a front-loading washer! I have a Maytag Neptune. I should have suspected that there were problems when I received a $500 certificate good toward the purchase of another Maytag. Robert (05/19/2006)

By Robert

RE: Stinky Towels?

We have a 10 year old Kenmore washer and I didn't think it could be the washer causing the smell, but maybe it is. It is only on some of the towels though.... our clothes smell fine. Odorban worked a couple of times, but some are just too bad to get the odor out of. And we have new towels to boot. (05/22/2006)

By Gordon

RE: Stinky Towels?

We have a Bosch 3200 front loader, it took close to a year and we were having a mechanical/burnt smell, especially when the towels and washcloths got wet or rewet. Odoban fixed the problem, the towels are soft and smell good again. I would like to know what the cause was, They didn't have a musty smell just a nasty funky smell. Im also wondering if it could be Algae, I was looking at a gallon of pool algaecide and the chemicals look real similar, I thought about trying it, but it has some bad warnings on the label.... For now Odoban... (05/28/2006)

By Ben

RE: Stinky Towels?

I thought I was just crazy! My towel have stunk since I have had my front loading Kenmore. I had no idea. I thought maybe I was not drying the clothes completely. Then I started putting them on extended dry times. --- No luck. The smell is only noticed when the towels get wet again - like when you are drying off!!! I spent a lot of money on this washer and dryer. I can't afford to buy another one now. Still these off on my Sears card!! (05/29/2006)

By Melissa

RE: Stinky Towels?

We are attorneys contemplating a class action against Whirlpool due to design defects in the Duet Washer. Among the problems we are addressing are the "stinky towels" listed here. Please feel free to email me at with your contact information or particular Duet stories and I will call you to discuss your personal Whirlpool experiences. (06/01/2006)

By sdermer

RE: Stinky Towels?

I read all of your posts and found odoban at our local wal mart. I was excited to use it on my towels. It was in a spray bottle and didn't have any instructions about adding to the wash so I sprayed about 5 sprays into my wash while the water was running in. I've got one of the first Maytag Neptune washing machines. When the cycle ended and I opened the door to the machine it was FULL of soap suds. I've never had so many soap suds stay in the washer like that before. I had to run the towels through 5 more cycles with only water to get out all of the soap. I'm VERY aware not to use too much soap ... I only put about an inch (if that much) in the bottom of the cap so I don't think it was because I used too much laundry soap. Did I get the wrong type of odoban? Is there more than one kind? I think I'll purchase some hydrogen peroxide to try on the towels too. Any other suggestions would be great!

I've been told by a washing machine repairman to sprinkle some powder dishwashing detergent into the front gasket of my machine, set wash to HOT and pour a cup of bleach in the running water as it is filling on a cycle with nothing in the machine. I've only done this once since he told me but I think I'll have to do it more often to keep the mold out of my washer. I don't notice any smell in my laundry or in my clothing/linens ... only towels after they get wet when using them ... peee uuuuu! (06/04/2006)

By Cheryle

RE: Stinky Towels?

Use TSP, trisodium phosphate, you can find it at home depot, any hardware store. Throw it in the wash (with no clothes of course) PROBLEM GONE, use it every 2 months, this works for me. (06/06/2006)


RE: Stinky Towels?

I love the internet. What other resource do we have for things like this? Who would think that you could actually type in "stinky towels" & find a number of solutions to a stinky problem? I'm off to Wal-Mart to get my hands on that Odoban. By the way, the problem is certainly not exclusive to a front-loader; mine is a top-loader Kenmore. thanks. (06/09/2006)

By packedhouse

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have the Kenmore Elite HE3. My laundry doesn't smell after they wash, but the inside of the washer has a sour smell to it. I keep the door open when I'm not using it, but the smell is still there. What isle is odorban in at Wal-Mart? (06/09/2006)

By lizkemp

RE: Stinky Towels?

Note: TSP (trisodium phosphate) is also in Scope Mouthwash. American Red Cross gives it to you for eliminating smoke from your laundry, AND IT WORKS! One capful for medium load, two for heavy to large loads. (06/10/2006)

By camo_angels

RE: Stinky Towels?

Well folks, her is the deal. Until now I have never wanted to puke as a result of my own supposedly clean towels. They have always smelt clean to me; that is until my Kenmore Elite piece of %&*# washer. I am convinced the old smelly water does not get completely washed out of them. We had the GE brand and they were certainly not as attractive as the Kenmore but they never left my towels smelling like a dead wet cat left in the gutter.

I lived in Portugal for almost 18 months and folks they have nothing but front load washers, never had smelly clothes.

Class action law suit you bet. Cascade with hot water will get you through two to three loads before that cat comes back. Just a bandaid like every suggestion here.

Top loads don't have this problem. Probably because they get the towels clean. Good luck all and thanks for the info. (06/10/2006)

By Blake

RE: Stinky Towels?

I've had my LG frontloader 1 year and after years of smell-free towels they are stinky. My washer smells the same way that my wet towels do. I think the only reason my other clothes don't stink is because I never "re-wet" them while using them like I do towels. After reading that some folks are having the same problem with top loaders I wonder if it's just some new design or something that is catching "gunk" and molding it inside. By the way, I don't think it has anything to do with fabric softener because I have never used it, unless the softener just adds to the amount of "gunk." I'll try Odorban (or is it Odoban) but I think it's a mold problem in may machine. Thanks, everyone (06/13/2006)

By Beth

RE: Stinky Towels?

Well this is obviously not in any of our heads, all of the stories are very common. I really think this is a HUGE problem and as costly as these machines are, we should not be having this problem. I was so excited when I bought mine, because it came so highly recommended and I really thought that this would last me a good many years. I think class action suit is in order, just so we can get another machine, forget all of the expenses we have all already had with all of the "remedies" we have tried. I just want the order to stop.

My poor husband goes to work and if he sweats, he smells so bad that he knows others can smell him, it is his shirts. Our house has been experiencing this for some time. All this time I thought I was doing something wrong, never once did I think it was the machine until a friend said they were having the same problem too.

Let me tell you my experience recently that absolutely led to another source of "smell". Our washer was not draining properly, we even had water leaking on the floor. I tried all the drains, everything seemed to be fine. I had a repairman come out and he knew immediately what it was, and kind of laughed because he sees it all the time. Turns out that under the drum (you have to take the screws out of the bottom front, take that front bottom panel off, unplug first, take the screw out of the ground wire, and there is a lovely filter in which you will need a pan to put under it before you unscrew it, but unscrew it and empty it out. It catches things, i.e. gum wrappers, stick pins, bobby pins, lots of lint). The smell is awful! And it cost me $115.00 to find this out.

No where did I find that there was this filter. He said to check it every 3-4 months. Make sure every 5 washes or so that I run a whitest whites load with a couple of cups of bleach. Now I still have an odor but not as much as before. I will be going to Sam's tomorrow and get some odorban. Thanks for making me feel a bit "normal" after reading all of your issues too. (06/13/2006)

By Diane

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have a LG frontloader washer that I have known to be the culprit of my stinky laundry, and my husband just keeps telling me I am wrong. THANK GOD I FOUND THIS FORUM! I was beginning to think I might really be doing something wrong. The true travesty is that we have all bought these expensive, energy efficient washers of poor quality and have to figure out what the "magic potion" is to get clean smelling laundry. These washing machines are a disgrace and too darned expensive to replace. It's frustrating. I'll try some of these magic potions that you guys have shared. I'm calling LG to complain. (06/19/2006)

By Susan

RE: Stinky Towels?

Try running a load of towels with a cup of vinegar, with your laundry detergent. The Purex laundry soap with Renuzit in it helps too. (06/19/2006)

By Amybelle227

RE: Stinky Towels?

We also have an LG Washing machine which we purchased last December - we're having the exact same problem. I've tried the peroxide and it worked the first couple of times but I washed them yesterday twice using peroxide and finally resorted to bleaching them. I talked to LG and they said they haven't heard of this problem?

Someone above posted about Odoban being at Sam's Club - is this in the States?? I went to Sam's in Canada last night and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Any help would be appreciated.

Editor's Note: I can't see any retailers in Canada. Here is a link with their contact information. Maybe they could help.

Also, they do sell it through (06/23/2006)

By Mummof3

RE: Stinky Towels?

We purchased an LG front loading washer for $1200 several months ago. It worked great for a few months then all the clothes, but mainly the towels, began to have a musty odor. We have tried many things; bleach, vinegar, leaving the door open, different detergents, and we still have musty smelling clothes. We called the seller and so far they have been of very little help. I'll try the odorban. I have used top loading machines all my life and have never had this problem. It is ridiculous that after spending so much for the washer that you would have to do something special to keep the clothes from stinking. (06/24/2006)

By Scott

Archive: Stinky Towels?

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


Request: Stinky Towels?

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By nimwe

RE: Stinky Towels?

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

Fabric Softener

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)

By Maria

HE Detergent

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)

By Sharon

Stinky Towels?

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!

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By Bob

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By Jeanette

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By Mom

RE: Stinky Towels?

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

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By pinkchic

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By khutch

RE: Stinky Towels?

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)

By Margaret

RE: Stinky Towels?

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

Archive: Stinky Towels?

I have a top load washing machine, nothing new and fancy. my towels come out of the wash with this smell and when they get wet again, it's worse. i mostly use tide detergent, no fabric softener, and scent free dryer sheets. I am looking for some help so I can keep a towel on my head without thinking of wet dog!

Susan from Cranston, Rhode Island


Hang Towels Outside

I had this problem and asked my mom about it, she said to hang them out in the sun. She was right! it works wash them take them out still wet hang them in the sun for a few hours when they are dry throw them in the dryer for 5 minets to soften them up. hope this helps. (09/01/2006)

By chas

Clorox Bleach

Wow! A lot of feedback. What has worked for me is to put a SMALL amount of liquid clorox bleach in the water with the detergent, while it is filling, let it swish around then add the towels. I have had no obvious fading (Even with dark towels). I use about 1/4 cup of bleach. (09/01/2006)

By JIll from IA

Gain and Baking Soda

I also have the same problem in the summer time. I have tried all types of washing powders. I use Gain. I have found that if you add 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda in with the wasing powders and then 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water, they will not have the smell anymore. Hope this helps. As a last resort, wash in hot water. (09/01/2006)

By Sherry

Pine Sol

I have had good luck for stinky towels by using regular Pine Sol. Do not use the newer lemon scent. For the first time, use about 3/4 cup along with your regular detergent. After that add just 1/4 cup to each load. This works on anything that you want to disenfect without using bleach. (09/02/2006)

By guest

RE: Stinky Towels?

Just to follow up. I tried to steam clean the drum and edge to get out the smell, don't waste your time. My wife cleaned the machine with Borax and baking soda and this didn't work ether. I have been reading a few new entries and find it SAD to hear people finding that the smell goes away only after adding baking soda, vinegar, Borax, filling it with bleach, etc, which is just an added expense and a temporary fix. If I knew of this problem before I bought this washer, I wouldn't have bought it! My 10-year-old washer was working fine, just rusty and I thought my wife deserves better. Sorry honey! (09/05/2006)

By Bob

RE: Stinky Towels?

I have the same problem. My boyfriend and I almost broke up over this. He kept telling me that I was crazy and didn't know how to do laundry. That he had done laundry for years and it always smelled super fresh, that I must not know how to do laundry. This website helped so much. He is sitting here with me and jsut apologized for making me feel so badly. He would go to work and sweat and he would stink. One time, I even sprayed him with my body spray! We have the LG and are disgusted with the smell. IT IS FOUL! (09/12/2006)

By Sarah Jones

RE: Stinky Towels?

I too have stinky towels and was so happy to find this site. I'm going to try several of the suggestions that I read. I won't use the liquid fabric softener any more either. For cotton dish cloth and small wash clothes that stink, I suggest taking a freshly laundered very WET folded cloth and microwaving it for about 2 minutes. Use tongs to remove the hot cloth and if the steam does not smell fresh, then microwave for another minute. This kills the bacteria that causes the sour smell. (09/15/2006)

By Julie

RE: Stinky Towels?

I own a Kenmore Elite HE4T front loading washer and dryer. I am having a similar problem and appreciate this forum. However to me the towels smell more like medicine. Like the fungicide for athletes foot and that was what I was blaming it on (I have 3 boys). Could this be mold?? I looked through the manual and there is a section on cleaning your washer. It is a series of codes you must enter and then pour bleach in. I am trying that now and will definitely try the odorban. Also I will no longer mix our clothes with the towels. (09/19/2006)

By J

RE: Stinky Towels?

Try 20 Mule Team Boraxo. I've noticed that if the clothes are left in the washing machine too long, say, overnight, before getting into the dryer, they can get stinky. So I try to get them out instantly after washing. Also, I now add 20 Mule Team Boraxo to the wash with the laundry soap and that helps remove the stink from the towels. However, if the stink is too ingrained, even this might not completely work...still experimenting with this. (09/24/2006)

By Jennifer

RE: Stinky Towels?

One of the things i have noticed is that everyone is blaming the washer. I have found that cleaning out the dryer hose and casing by vacuuming it out you can eliminate one contributor of the musty smell. as the lint builds up and gets moist repeatedly, mildew starts to form. also take your dryer screen and wash it weekly with dish soap. fabric softener has wax that builds up on the screen and, for that matter fabrics and towels, which traps moisture in the dryer and becomes a sauna. once i did this i quit making stinky towels, but i am still trying to salvage the old ones. (09/28/2006)

By jk1996

RE: Stinky Towels?

Just wanted to let everyone know that we ended up returning our LG washing machine and exchanged it for the LG with the sanitary cycle due to some problems that we had had with the washing machine not related to the smelly towels.

We got the new machine in July and we haven't had the smelly towels since. I do a sanitary cycle almost daily as I do home daycare and wash all of the facecloths/bibs, etc.

I will certainly keep you posted as to whether we get the smelly towels back. I also make sure to use vinegar in the rinse cycle rather than fabric softener all the time. I keep the door opened to the washer when it's not in use.

I also talked to LG about this problem and they suggested using bleach in the softener dispenser occasionally.

By Mummof3

RE: Stinky Towels?

One added comment - Do you leave damp towels in a pile waiting to be laundered? I always put used towels directly into the wash, or hang them to dry if I can't wash them right away. My towels don't smell. However, I just got back from a 6 day trip, started the laundry and found a load of damp towels in the dryer! I forgot to DRY them! UGH. Now they ALL STINK!!! So, I googled "smelly towels" and found this site. I was surprised to find people having trouble with the washer. Can the smell possibly be from sitting around damp? I'm going to try the vinegar/baking soda trick. I hope it works. Also, with kitchen towels, I change them EVERY DAY and don't toss them into the laundry basket unless they're dry. (10/04/2006)

By Debbie


Vinegar works. End of story. I read all of the posts the other day, and decided to try the vinegar. I put a cup of vinegar in my wash with hot water and soaked all of my towels for one hour. I ran them through a full cycle and an extra rinse. then I ran them with my regular detergent and and an extra rinse. They smell so GREAT! It's amazing how bad they smelled. We almost tossed them and started over. I believe the theory about the fabric softener is dead on, because the only time I use Downy is when I wash my towels! Put two and two togther here! Hope this helps. Oh, it was regular run of the mill, white, distilled vinegar. (10/09/2006)


RE: Stinky Towels?

I paid the $75 for a maintenance call from Sears because I was out of warranty and couldn't take the smell any more. I tried "green" detergents, running a cycle of hot water and bleach and vinegar and nothing helped. It was the best $75 I ever spent because that guy took my Kenmore apart and spent 30 minutes scraping and wiping off the most disgusting gook and gunk I had ever seen. There is nothing that could remove that but elbow grease.

My theory: if you run a large load in these new washers, the water doesn't fill up very high. Like most of us, we add water to the cycle. The wash suds up and then drains and the suds are left on the very top of the outside of the plastic tub. The rinse cycle fills up not quite as high and doesn't rince the tub. Wash after wash, the suds stick to the tub and dry up there after each wash. There's no way to rinse it off and Pew! It starts to build up and stink.

A year after my service call, it's back. Now I guess I'll get a new washer. Do I have any other choice?


By Julie


I have been dealing with stinky, fowl, musty reeking odor towels for awhile now myself and have been following this thread for awhile now. You know what I did? I have light colored towels and I put a medium brown washcloth in the mix, to see what would happen, and when the cycle started, I poured one round of bleach thru cycle. I put the towels in the dryer, nothing happened to the darker towel and hoped for the best. Sure enough, the stink was ALL gone, once I wet the towel again, so I gathered the rest, dark and light and did the same thing and sure enough... they are all better. This is my 3rd round of washing towels since the bleach process and they are smelling GREAT. Just wanted to let ya know! (10/24/2006)

By Summer

Water Heater

This problem may NOT be your washing machine. It may be your hot water system (not just the tank). If your hot water tank is set below about 150 degrees, you may be growing bacteria in your water tank and hot water pipes. Do your dishes also smell? Do you notice a odor in the steam in your shower or bath?

The solution is to flush the hot water pipes and tank. This is easily done with bleach if you are handy. If not, your plumber can do it. Do not be confused with "hot water tank ordor caused by the anode". That is most likely not the problem. Water temps below 150 will allow heat loving organizims to fluorish. We had this problem and it drove us nuts until we finally figured it out.

By the way, hot water is NICE. And you may use a little bit more power for HOT water but, you will use less water and your bill will not go up by very much. We have been clean for one year and our electric bill has not increased by more than a couple of bucks a month. Applicane repair guys will tell you, if you want clean, then use hot water. Don't expect your dishwasher to heat 120 degree water sufficiently to kill things, it can't. Same with your washer even if it is an HE3T.

How to flush is a good question. We used bleach and it took a couple of times to clean the system. We used a gallon of bleach in a 50 gal tank. Strong--yes but we are killing crud and it takes power to do it. Once flushed and with the tank set at 150 the crud can't grow and your system will stay clean and clear.
You can go here to read more: (11/01/2006)

By carmack


I was just talking to my husband about this because I am at odds about it. For 20 years I have never had this problem. As soon as we bought a front loader it started. My husband says that the rubber seal around the front loading washer folds into itself and water fills up in there to seal the water in while the cycle is going. Some of the water stays in there and it becomes stagnant and that is where your smell is coming from.

I do not believe it has anything to do with the downy. I have used it for years and never had a problem. I have gotten rid of the front loader and continued to use downy with no problems at all now with smell. I had to throw away all the other towels though. I couldn't get the smell out no matter what I tried.


By Molly

My Solution

I also have a front loading washer (Frigidaire) and had the smelly towel issue. I noticed the smell also coming from the rubber seal in the door. My husband ran the washer with hot water and bleach. I purchased Borax, added 1/2 cup directly to the towels. I rewashed all towels/facecloths in Tide and Borax on "hot" water and let them soak 20-30 min. The first time made a slight improvement and after the second time it totally eliminated the odour. I only use fabric sheets to dry them. I've also been leaving the washer door open to dry the seal out between washings. Hope this helps. Good luck! (11/03/2006)

By colleen from canada

Floor Drain

I posted my sollution to the stinky towel problem on 10/05/06. It has been 2 and 1/2 months since I put the floor drain in. I am telling everyone the it fixed the problem. I have went back to using softner also. It is working like a washing machine is supposed to. NO SMELL! I hope that this helps someone else. Buy the way, It will take a few Washing to get that smell out of your towels. Because that is one awful smell. (11/13/2006)

By puggle


I am a husband and I do not like smelly towels. My wife tried many things. We even live in Arizona where it is very dry and we had smelly towels. This OdoBan works for us. That is all I can say. Thanks to the one who suggested it and good luck to all. (11/19/2006)

By Paul

HE3 Not Draining

I agree with the man who put the floor drain in to correct the smelly HE3 problem. I have made numerous complaints to Sears and extended the warranty, had many service calls with 'no fix'. The water does not drain fully out of machine. when you run another cycle the mildew water gets fanned into the air when the machine spins, filling room with disgusting smell. If laundry is left in machine, it will also take on that mildew smell. It is a design problem, Sears should address and fix. (12/05/2006)

By Celest

Heavier Towels

I have this problem, but only with certain towels. I have some older, thinner fabric towels and some newer, more plush towels and I am only having trouble with the newer, heavier towels. I'm thinking it's not the machine, water, soaps, fabric softeners, etc. at all, rather the more dense towels don't get completely dry or completely washed. I've always used bleach in my towels. I haven't changed anything else. The various weight towels all wash and dry together. Is the trouble you're having with the heavy, plush towels? (12/10/2006)

By Jan

Poor Spin Cycle

I just resealed the hub seal on my Amana (made by Whirlpool) outer tub. In doing so, I found the tranny belt was quite worn and cracked, so I replaced it along with the tensioner spring. I now believe the cause of the stinky towel syndrome to be a poor spin cycle, as well as inadequate wash agitation. If damp towels are washed without adequate agitation, they retain the filth you are trying to wash out. Couple this with a poor rinse and spin cycle (all due to a slipping belt or a weak tranny), and you have the perfect recipe for towels with a stank your momma would spank you over. I think it high time for some accountability by manufacturers; to step in and offer some advice, suggestion, remedy... Let's make them an offer to come up with a solution without litigation. If none of them step up to the plate, then I have no sympathy for them in the courtroom or in the marketplace.


By Jim

RE: Stinky Towels?

People, please calm down. Get the lawsuit nonsense out of your heads because if you read ALL the posts you will see that the prblem is not unique to Whirlpool or LG or Sears. Or more importantly front loaders. People with top loaders have that problem also, but admittedly less. There is no smoking gun!

Look instead to the commonality. Towels seem to be a big issue. They are for us. We have a Duet. But we also had the problem in our top loader. Could it be the towels? Of course we can now afford those high end "hotel style" towels. Extra thick. Problam is they take a long time to dry out after use. Especially the hand towels. Could it be that the bacteria are growing during that period of time? You bet. Ideal conditions. We can only get about 3-4 days out of our towels before we have to change them out. We wash ours on the "whitest white" setting. Hot water helps, as does the second rinse feature. We tried the OdoBan and it does seem to work, but I am not thrilled with the fragrance that it leaves. Still working on the right recipe for us.

We are happy with our Duet. It definitely is easier on our clothes. Just look at the reduced amount of lint in the dryer filter. Is it perfect? No, but a lot better than our top loader.

As for the woman whose husband's clothes smell. Please remember that there are other possible resons such as medications, diet (garlic or alcohol) or even personal hygeine.

Remember that you were drawn to your choice of washer by its features. Energy consumption, size, convenience. Take responsibility for your own actions. Being an engineer I can guarantee you that ther is no plot going on here. Could there be a design issue? Yes, of course. But the evidence in my opinion is not pointing to top loaders. (01/07/2007)

By John

Smaller Loads

I had the same problem with all my laundry and found partial relief by cutting the size of the loads. Overstuffing the washing machine was preventing the clothes from getting washed properly b/c there wasn't enough soap to go around. I still have the problem with the towels stinking and am going to try a bunch of the suggestions here. I have a feeling a combination of solutions will work. I will post back in a week or so. (01/13/2007)

By Alicia Staz

My Remedy

I solved my stinky towel problem. I use baking soda in the soap, hot water, extra rinse, and also vinegar in the rinse cycle. Also, check your drain hose, I noticed lint built up in it. Cleared it out, and with everything else, I have eliminated the stinky smell. (01/21/2007)

By seekimmy

Archive: Stinky Towels

I don't have a problem with my washer making my towels and dishrags smell. It is the men in my house. If you use a towel, it is wet or damp and then leave it in a lump on the floor or bed, it will start smelling. My bathroom smells after my son uses his already smelly towel. It is disgusting. I am ready to bleach the stinky ones even if it ruins the color.

Lisa from St. Pete Beach, FL


RE: Stinky Towels

What a big string of feedback on this one! I have to put in my feedback. Wash smaller loads, use bleach (even on colored towels) it kills bacteria, use hot water and DON'T leave them in the washer overnight. When I bleach colored towels, I simply fill my washer first and start adding the towels after it has agitated a little to mix the water up. Hot water and bleach kill bacteria. A bath towel is one of those areas begging for begging for bacteria to grow! My aunt always washed her towels in Lysol liquid. Good idea also, but only if you can stand the smell of Lysol.
Cheryl (01/31/2007)

By Cheryl

RE: Stinky Towels

Many very good answers. I was gonna say try my method: SCREAMING AT THE MEN TO HANG THEM UP. LOL once a towel is dry then put it in the laundry. then they wash just fine for me. i wasn't gonna bother posting but the original complaint was the men weren't hanging them to dry. maybe put some big hooks up and then a good regular yelling till they're used! (01/31/2007)

By Lily 59

RE: Stinky Towels

You might try "20 Mule Team Borax "you can get it in the laundry aisle. It is in a box. My mother used to use it. I always purchase white towels and linens, It helps keep my life simple. I can bleach them all I want. Biz bleach works wonderful on the whites keeping them fresh smelling and white. (01/31/2007)

By Linda

RE: Stinky Towels and sponges

Isn't Google great? I typed in stinky towels, and here I am. My towels were stinky, from thin kitchen towels to fluffy bath towels - even new ones. I've always hung them up after using and put them in the dryer immediately after washing and they still smelled bad. I now have towels that not only don't stink - they smell great! What worked for me was setting the washer to prewash/soak and putting two cups of vinegar into the water (no detergent). After the prewash cycle was complete, I washed them in detergent and one cup baking soda. Now they smell wonderful. I think that prewashing with the vinegar by itself if the key because using it in the regular wash cycle with detergent didn't help. Vinegar is cheap and safe for colors. If they get bad again, I'll do another vinegar prewash.

Also, have a cure for stinky sponges. Since the dishwasher is right next to the sink, I started keeping my sponges in the dishwasher to eliminate clutter. Then I noticed how good they smell. Plus, they are so clean that I keep my glass table sparkling with just a couple swipes without using soap or windex. (02/01/2007)

By Susan

RE: Stinky Towels

The answer is simple: hang out the towel to air. Best to remove it from the moist bathroom. Or, since the men won't hang out to air, you'll have to wash more often. Try hanging out to dry first. Then, using Cold water, even without bleach, should suffice. Use plenty of water, though. Maybe you aren't using enough water in your washer (or maybe you are loading the washer too heavily for the water level). (02/02/2007)

By Mary

RE: Stinky Towels

We HAD this same problem but now it is fixed. You don't need to call the repair man, it's just a waste of time, money and endless frustration. Tools: 9/32 socket or T-20 torx head bit.
Bunch of rags you don't want when you're all finished.


Lay on the floor in front of the washer and look under the lower panel. You will see three silver colored torx head screws, one on the left, right and center. Loosen these up with your socket or torx head wrench. Remove the lower front cover and set it aside.
See all the wires? Did you make sure to UN-PLUG the washer? Good.

Now look at the center of the bottom of the washer. You will notice a white cylindrical contraption. This is a drain trap where all of the junk from your washer gets hung up so it won't clog up the water pump that discharges the water from your washer. On the front of this drain trap is an access cap. BEFORE you open this place the rags under the trap, along the sides and under the washer. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Now open the drain trap access cap by turning it counter clockwise. Be prepared for some smelly water to come out, probably 1-2 cups worth. Once the water is drained, pull the trap completely out. You'll find the reason your washer stinks in the trap. We had a blob of black goo and a security label from an article of clothing we bought. That was the culprit. The drain trap was "trapping" all of this junk and getting real funky.

Now clean the drain trap out with hot soapy water and a little bleach. Clean out the cylinder where the drain was. Wipe it out with a rag soaked in bleach and soap. Once everything is clean, replace the drain trap and tighten it down. Do not over tighten this or the seal may leak.

Replace the front cover and the three torx head screws.
Plug the washer back in.
Run the washer through the SANITARY CYCLE with bleach.
Your problem is solved (02/27/2007)

By BigChiefM1

RE: Stinky Towels

There are 2 products that will not change the color of anything but hair, and do not need to be rinsed. I buy food/technical grade hydrogen peroxide and dilute down to 3% in a gallon jug. Then get an 8oz spray bottle, put a capfull of "No rinse Body Bath", (get mine at pharmacy order at WalMart for $5.70 a 16oz bottle) and fill spray bottle up with the new 3% H2O2. Keep the 35% H2O2 in the freezer, and the gallon in frig.

Now spray away anywhere you need to rid of odors. I add to the wash water a 1/3 cup of the 35%, even in cold water too, with usual laundry detergent. Whites will never look better. Colored ones don't fade. (03/01/2007)

By Zuni

RE: Stinky Towels

I'm so glad I found this forum because the smell of not only the towels but other clothes too is disgusting. I'm going to try some of the suggestions and hope that something works because I can't stand the smell any longer. I have thrown out several laundry pieces due to the smell, I won't even use them in the rag bin. I have a Whirlpool Duet and wish I had never bought it! (03/22/2007)

By Yvonne

RE: Stinky Towels

I do not have a front loader, but in the past year I've noticed this continual musty smell. And looking back, I realize I changed from Tide w/bleach powder to Tide w/bleach liquid. I've recently began using Tide w/Downy and noticed the smell is worse. I didn't see anything mentioned on this thread regarding liquid detergent vs powder. But either way, I'm going back to powder for my towels at least. I'm trying the bleach soak now. Will try the vinegar if that doesn't work. But somehow I think it had to do with changing to liquid detergent. Anyone else notice a difference? (04/16/2007)

By Nikki

RE: Stinky Towels

I KNOW WHAT CAUSES IT AND I HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET RID OF THE SMELL! 1.) Soap build up is causing the smell 2.) Use at least a cup of vineger in 1st load, then wash with HE detergent, then do it three more time WITHOUT SOAP, just plain water. IF, you don't notice anymore suds during the rinse cycle, you are safe to put in the dryer. 3.) NEVER use any detergent which is not HE, HE is specially formulated to rinse easier. 4) I'm only going to use half of the regular amount of detergent when I wash towels and I am going to use the extra rinse cycle too. 5.) After every 10 loads of laundry or a big day of doing laundry, run a cycle with clorox to make sure the lines don't get a gunky build up and clog up your washer. Good luck guys! (04/26/2007)

By Ranessa

RE: Stinky Towels

I didn't have any vinegar on hand, and figured that the towels were so disgusting that I didn't care if the bleach ruined them. I ran 2 loads of dark towels on the "whitest whites" setting with a scant 1/4 cup bleach and a second rinse. They smell great and are in no way discolored!! Thanks to all for the suggestion. (04/27/2007)

By Stacey

Archive: Stinky Towels

My bath towels have developed a very bad odor! I've allowed them to dry before placing them in the hamper and they still have an awful odor in them. They are Ralph Lauren, 100% cotton, bath sheets that are 4 years old. Any suggestions?

Pam from Choctaw, OK


RE: Stinky Towels

Try washing them in white vinegar with the washing cycle. I have had to do mine at few times to get the "stink" out from when "forgot" them in trunk after going for a swim. It worked and also this works on washing dog bedding too Just thought would throw that in too for anyone reading this. Good luck. (05/17/2007)

By grammaoftwo

RE: Stinky Towels

In your washer, soak over night in hot water, detergent (very small amount) & 2 cups of baking soda.
The next day, complete the full laundry cycle for heavily soiled clothing.
Then, repeat the rinse cycle adding a cup of lemon juice OR vinegar to the load.
Hang outside on the washing line to dry. If it is a mildew problem the only real mildew killer is bleach. (05/17/2007)

By hedera

RE: Stinky Towels

I had the same problem. I found that I was using too much detergent. All of the detergent wasn't rinsing out in the rinse cycle. You can probably wash your towels next time without any detergent. I did this a few times, and now my towels and everything else looks cleaner and has no awful smell. Also, use less fabric softener too. (05/19/2007)

By Eva Berling

Tried Ammonia?

Phew! There are too many entries to read if anyone already suggested this one. But, I always wash my blankets and curtains in ammonia, when I change them, to eliminate any odors. It also worked well on my husband's work clothes that smelled like motor oil. Good luck! (05/20/2007)

By catchdmc

RE: Stinky Towels

Make sure your towels are really dry. I put a few unused dryer fabric sheets between every two or three towels hope it helps as I fold them. (05/26/2007)

By Lisa


It's been 6 weeks and my towels still do not stink; try my suggestion 1.) Soap build up is causing the smell 2.) Use at least a cup of vineger in 1st load, then wash with HE detergent, then do it three more time WITHOUT SOAP, just plain water. IF, you don't notice anymore suds during the rinse cycle, you are safe to put in the dryer. 3.) NEVER use any detergent which is not HE, HE is specially formulated to rinse easier. 4) I'm only going to use half of the regular amount of detergent when I wash towels and I am going to use the extra rinse cycle too. 5.) After every 10 loads of laundry or a big day of doing laundry, run a cycle with clorox to make sure the lines don't get a gunky build up and clog up your washer. Good luck guys! (06/08/2007)

By Ranessa

RE: Stinky Towels

I am really glad to hear all this! My towels are so stinky, we were going to buy new ones. We just bought a new water heater thinking that was the culprit to our dismay it was not. I had the city come test our water, that was not the problem either. I heard about this site from my sister and ran a cup of clorox trough the washer with out any towels and then washed my towels after the cycle was complete. They smell a whole lot better. Also my husband cleaned inside the rubber seal and it was pretty disgusting. So before you go spend money on a water heater, try this steps first it may save you some money.. (06/20/2007)

By Amy Espinoza

Archive: Stinky Towels

I have a problem with my water, I think. I wash a load of towels or dishrags, and they don't smell very good coming out of the dryer. Then when they get wet, they stink.

Home and Garden Cleaning LaundryNovember 12, 2011
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