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.
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November 16, 2011 Flag
9 found this helpful

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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January 6, 20140 found this helpful

I've never heard of it. Where do you buy it?

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January 7, 20140 found this helpful

I'd be interested to know where you get it for $10. The least expensive I found was on Amazon for $23. It goes up to $79 from there.

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March 10, 20150 found this helpful

November 16, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

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.

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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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November 16, 20110 found this helpful

In the meantime I would work on teaching your child to pick things up. In the long run she will be better off for learning to be responsible.

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November 16, 20110 found this helpful

I do this as well although I don't use Apple Cider Vinegar I just use the plain old white distilled vinegar and it works perfectly and it sets the colors in the clothes. Double duty.

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November 17, 20110 found this helpful

September 13, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

This is a guide about musty smell on clean towels. It is completely baffling and frustrating to find that your clean towels have a musty odor.

Musty Smell on Clean Towels

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October 18, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

March 6, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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October 19, 20110 found this helpful

I haven't had a bit of trouble with my laundry retaining a musty odor since I started using Boraxo with my detergent (I use a very small amount of detergent; the Boraxo softens the water and so very little is required. I use just enough for the water to feel somewhat slick (like soap does)). Then I fill the softener rinse cup with white vinegar, and voilà, it's all good. I've even forgotten my towels in the washer more than a day and no sign of musty. If I would need to get out a musty odor, I would just go through this cycle one more time. It's my understanding that the vinegar rinse assures that the detergent is all out. It's that residue of detergent that causes the smell.

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October 19, 20110 found this helpful

September 21, 2012 Flag
2 found this helpful

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!

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August 18, 2009 Flag
2 found this helpful

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.

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November 9, 2007 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

I actually have this same problem so what I do is...... I dry my towels a second time. I read somewhere online that dryers are made more energy efficient these days and while your towels may feel dry, they are not. This is how mold and mildew can build up on them. I wash my towels in a seperate load on the hottest water and longest cycle then I dry them once and then I dry them once more. This usually fixes the smell! Do not leave your towels in your washer wet for to long try and get them out and dried immediately. I also make it a happy to try and clean my washer once a month or so with bleach, vinegar, and hot hot water with nothing in it. Seeems to help!

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June 9, 20090 found this helpful

First, the "mildewy" smell on the towels and t-shits is from human bacteria that detergent just doesn't kill or remove. Detergent and bleach only bring a temporary (if any) solution. You might even notice that the towels smell okay when they come out of the dryer, but when they get wet again...ugghh.

But here's how to get rid of the smell and get your clean-smelling towels and t-shirts back again:

- Add a cup and a half to two cups of white distilled vinegar into your wash along with the detergent. Then run an extra rinse cycle to remove any lingering vinegar.

Studies have confirmed that regular 5% acidity white vinegar (the kind you can buy in the supermarket by the gallon) kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses).

Give it a try. I guarantee you'll be amazed at how fresh-smelling your towels will be.

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September 17, 20090 found this helpful

August 19, 2009 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

By Electra from Lebanon, OH

March 10, 20110 found this helpful

@BigChiefm1 you are a genius! I solved my stinky laundry problem by following your directions on how to clean the trap!! OMG, talk about some nasty stuff in there!! Mine had a bra underwire that had lodged in there and had a science project growing around it. Eeewww! I feel so much better knowing that all is clean as a whistle now in there and I didn't have to pay a repairman $200! Thank you, thank you, and God Bless you for posting such a wonderful tip!

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October 19, 20110 found this helpful

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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Anonymous Flag
September 23, 20160 found this helpful

October 30, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

November 1, 20110 found this helpful

I have a typo. I DON'T use 1/3 cup of bleach, I use 1/4 cup! Sheesh...learn to type! *LOL*

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November 2, 20110 found this helpful

Use HOT water and don't wash too many towels together, they need room to "dance" in the washer. I have used vinegar or bleach and it works fine if you do not overload the washer.

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March 3, 20120 found this helpful

October 19, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

October 20, 20110 found this helpful

Oh boy did I have a problem with that! I tried borax, baking soda, biz, pine sol and anything else I could think of. I wanted to use bleach but my husbands work clothes were navy blue. Then one day I washed them with just tide and some cheap lemon ammonia that I bought at Big Lots. After that everything seemed fresh again! So far so good. Trust me when I say I tried Everything! Good Luck.

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October 20, 20110 found this helpful

Oh boy, did I have a problem with that! I tried borax, baking soda, biz, pine sol, Calgon, vinegar. I wanted to use bleach but my husbands work clothes are navy blue. Then one day I used just Tide and some cheap lemon ammonia that I bought at Big Lots. Everything seams so fresh now! Hopefully it will work for you too.

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November 16, 20110 found this helpful
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