Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
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
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
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
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
Give a "thumbs up" to the solution that worked the best! Do you have a better solution? Click here to share it!
Here are questions related to Cleaning Stinky 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 Debbie 02/07/2012
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:)
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 Leti 03/03/2012
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.
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 BonnieAlice 11/16/2011
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.
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
By TheThreadLady 03/06/2012
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!
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
By Frances Adams 05/10/2011
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.
Why do my towels still smell after washing and drying immediately?
By Electra from Lebanon, OH
By Paulette Gulakowski 10/19/2011
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.
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
By valerie johnson09/17/2009
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!
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
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.
My towels always smell stale even after they have been washed. I tried baking soda in the washing machine but that didn't work.
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 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 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
By Eva Berling
By Amy Espinoza