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Rancid Smelling Dish Towels

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I have rancid smelling cloth dinner napkins and dish towels, usually from using them to drain fried foods. I've washed them in bleach, but the smell does not come out. Any suggestions?

By Jane from S.F., CA

Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Fred09/08/2009

I don't know why you'd want to keep them? I'm sure they served you well for some time before they became completely foul, I would either buy new ones or try news paper.

By Trix [4]03/27/2009

I'd switch to paper towels to soak up grease, but to save the towels that already smell you can try adding baking soda (or even better, washing soda if you can find it) to your wash.

By Scooter03/27/2009

I use cloth napkins to save money. I use to use them to drain french fries, etc.. I stopped for the very reason you describe. PLUS the rancid smell was also being transferred to the rest of my wash. Now I use cheap paper towels to drain grease, and use rags to clean up dirty nongreasy messes. I save the paper towels for grease.

By Beth [25]03/27/2009

Bleach may kill bacteria, but it doesn't break down grease. Amonia will do that, but don't mix them!

By Cee Cee W.03/25/2009

The reason they still smell bad is because there is bacteria in them. Try this: Soak them in white vinegar (removes the stains and disinfects them), rinse them out with hot water, ring out most of the water, and microwave them for 1 1/2 minutes. For sponges only microwave them for 30 to 45 seconds. It works like a charm!

By carol [5]03/25/2009

Maybe get a cloth specifically for draining foods and stick to that one - perhaps a cheesecloth. Then your tea towels and napkins won't be subjected to that. I'd try all the washing hints given here, but hang them outside in the sun to dry.

By Judi [17]03/24/2009

You need to wash in really hot water with bleach but by the time you do all that wouldn't it be cheaper to use paper towels or newspapers to drain fried foods?

By Sis [11]03/24/2009

Try soaking them in oxiclean, and when draining the grease from fried food. My parents always used a newspaper and I do the same now.

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