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Stinky Towels

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

By Electra from Lebanon, OH

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August 23, 20090 found this helpful

Mine did too. Now I wash as usual but in the rinse cycle I put a splash of vinegar (1/4-1/2 cup) and the smell is gone. It removes all smells from the fabric and any leftover detergent. It softens too. The vinegar scent will disappear in the dryer cycle. Sometimes I do a second rinse with my liquid fabric softener.

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August 23, 20090 found this helpful

You can also use baking soda to remove this odor. I suspect it is caused by damp towels not drying out properly in the bathroom. That is what is the problem when my towels get stinky. If they are white towels you could bleach them. But do one or the other. Don't use multiple treatments at the same time. Ammonia will also take out this sour smell, but it will also dull the color of brightly colored towels, so I would not use it on nice bath towels, unless they were already white. Works just fine on kitchen tea towels, too.

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August 23, 20090 found this helpful

The city water dept. Told me that august is the time for algae bloom in all public water supplies from lakes especially; that we can expect that swampy odor even when drinking it. Perhaps vinegar kills the odors because the algae are alkaline and the vinegar is slightly acidic? I have noticed, too, that detergents are getting less powerful, not cleansing properly, but that vinegar and twenty mule team borax seems to improve it all? It may be that mfgrs are encouraged to weaken the detergents because of the big global environmental movement? Powders do a lot of harm to the water table, fish, and elements i hear. Liquids are more compatible and break down more naturally and completely in the sewage/water treatment plants.

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September 18, 20090 found this helpful

I just ran across an article about this you might want to check out about smells on towels from using too much detergent and also fabric softeners on towels:

http://lifehack  arge-your-towels

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October 13, 20090 found this helpful

I have an HE machine and my towels kept smelling like mildew after I just washed them. I noticed my washing machine started smelling and so I went back to where I bought it and asked the salesman if he had heard of this problem before. He said that sometimes HE machines get some mildew buildup because the seal around the opening is water tight. He recommended I use a washing machine cleaning product. I found Tide Washing Machine cleaner at Home Depot. I used it and now my towels and machine don't smell anymore!

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October 19, 20090 found this helpful

I am a part-time seamstress and have found a new product (textile) that actually kills, bacteria, mold, mildew, algae, and other odor causing bacteria. I am a sceptic insomuch that I have a B.S. in Microbiology, so I bought a starfish for my kids to play with in the bathtub. I wanted to put it to the test. It has been in my bathroom in the tub for 18 weeks and it doesn't smell. I can hardly believe it. It works. I found the products at Good luck. Hope this helps. I'm going to try the kitchen towels next.

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December 9, 20100 found this helpful

I've had this problem and tried bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, sanitize cycle but nothing seemed to work 100% - maybe just slight improvement at first, but then the problem just seemed to get worse. Yesterday I tried grapefruit seed extract which is anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. I added some to my rinse cycle and clothes that I could not get the smell out of by using other methods (several times!) came out smelling wonderful!! I then put the grapefruit seed extract in my soap, bleach, and fabric softener dispensers and ran it through an empty cycle, then rinsed a couple times. The washer smells great! Today I washed another load of clothes which have had the stinky smell for a while and put grapefruit seed extract in the soap and rinse cycle and they also came out smelling great.

I have never used fabric softener in this machine, nor do I used the fabric softener sheets and have still had this problem. Not sure if this is a problem for some as suggested on this blog, but it is definitely not the only problem with front loaders and smelly clothes.

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February 3, 20110 found this helpful

I also have the 'stinky towel' syndrome here in Scotland. Have tried all the usual tips to no avail. Our water supply is excellent, so the problem lies within the machine (Zanussi front loader)

I don't know if it's a factor in the problem, but I never had the odor with any other machine in the past, but the difference now is this machine is cold fill only.

As every cycle automatically ends with a cold rinse, and the next load I put in always starts with a cold fill, I suspect bacteria is thriving in the 'innards' of the machine. I cannot afford to replace the machine at present, it's only just over a year old, but when I do purchase a new one I shall insist on hot fill. My towels actually smell ok when they are newly dried, but the second you start to dry yourself, the offending odor starts. I have also noticed same odor when I iron jeans etc. as soon as the steam contacts the fabric.

I am now at the stage where I dread visitors using the bathroom in case they think I'm just re-drying used towels instead of washing them !

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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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September 23, 20160 found this helpful

How do you clean the trap

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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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