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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
Add some Borax to your wash and your towels should start smelling fresh once more.
If the towels are bleachable, that will get rid of the smell, I think. Vinegar is a good alternative if you have dark colors. Ammonia works, but will bleach out dark colors just as bleach will. Baking soda should be less destructive to the color than ammonia because it is not as strong. Don't use any of these products together. Some may make dangerous combinations, and vinegar and baking soda or ammonia cancel each other out and will do nothing if used together.
I have found that the towels smell if they do not dry out enough hanging on the rack, if they are not washed often enough, if you do not use hot water to wash them.
Another thing to try is just to wash them in hot water and hang outside in the sun. If they are not too smelly, this might just do the trick.
I tried borax; I did 3 complete cycles and then tried a load of towels and the odor was not there any more.
An appliance repairman told me that the mold problem with the front loading machines is caused by too much detergent being used and not using the high efficiency detergent. He says the machines are great but you have to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
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.
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!
I find that my towels do not have that mildew smell if I dry them before they are put down the laundry chute to the basement. I have a small drying rack that is kept in the tub behind the shower curtain. All towels, washcloths etc. are dried on it. Then they can sit in the basement for a week before I wash them. Removing the rack for a shower is easy.
I FIND THAT IF put them through a short wash of cider vinegar and either 1/2 borax orvinegarlus a small bit of liquid downy(just a SMALL bit of Downy) is always enough to make my ciotton towels smell great!AGQiood luck
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Mandi from Erie
I do not use chemicals because I am the all-natural kind of person. I use an essential oil blend called Thieves (www.the-thieves-oil.com) that smells wonderful and kills toxic mold, bacteria and viruses. 1-2 drops in the washer is all that's needed. The towels come out smelling fresh and clean. It will eliminate the mold in the dryer too. (02/25/2007)
Maria can you use any essential oil because I went to that website and that stuff is so expensive? Let me know! (02/25/2007)
Try putting white vinegar in the rinse cycle. I have a lot of sulfur in my water and the vinegar completely removes any rotten egg smell. (02/26/2007)
One Word: AMMONIA! Works great for everything in the wash that can't be bleached. Colored towels, funky husband clothes, etc. It's all I use for both. Hope that helps! (02/26/2007)
For greatest results and greatest price, use white vinegar. I buy it by the gallon and keep with laundry supplies. Any time there is odor to your laundry, add some vinegar with your laundry soap. It will also soften the water, so use a little less soap. Vinegar disinfects and deodorizes. Start out using about a cup per load of laundry. (02/27/2007)
We've had the problem with smelly towels ( a sour mildew odor) and has taken me some time to trace it"s origin but I believe I have. My wife started using fabric softener about a year ago and about 6 Mo. ago this problem started. We have an Asko front loader and to resolve the problem I removed and cleaned the detergent tray with Clorox Clean-up, installed the tray and poured a cup of Clorox into the detergent compartment and ran a quick hot cycle. I next loaded 3 towels that we use the most,and smelled the worst, and ran on rinse cycle (no detergent). I was amazed at the amount of soap that was released from those 3 towels - the suds completely filled the machine. This is an 18 min. rinse cycle which I ran again with the same results. the suds finally diminished after 4 rinse cycles but took seven to take out most of the suds. The towels smell great for the first time in months. Apparently the fabric softener is somehow encapsulating the soap, not allowing it to be removed and because the softener kills the suds, it appears it is removing the soap but it may be that just the opposite is happening. Anyway, no more fabric softener in our wash!
Let us know if the fabric softener scenario could be your problem as well. In other words, if you have smelly towels do you use fabric softener or not. (07/06/2007)
Okay I have tackled this problem and found the cure the following is a lot of work and will take time to do your laundry but well worth it
U will need the following products
*Oxi Clean® Versatile Stain Remover
*Bounce Dryer Sheets
1) Run your washer on prewash with 1 scoop of oxi clean http://www.oxiclean.com/151616A05products.asp?MainNav=Products&SubNav=Laundry
2) Run normal modem with 1 scoop of oxi clean
3) Put the smelly clothes/towels into the washer on prewash with 1 scoop of oxi clean
4) Run normal load with clothes and 1 scoop of oxi clean
5) Put them into the dryer with Bounce dryer sheets (http://walmart.triaddigital.com/Sample/pg_bouncesheets.aspx)
6) Take out and fold.
And there u go no more smelly clothes
Note: it will take 1hr to 2hrs a load
But it works I did it last night
And even made someone shower to test out the towels
Please check out the 'washing machine smell" posting on this site! The problem IS caused by mold & fungus growing on the outside of the drum, and in other places we cannot get to (see details on listing above). I'm going to try a product called Purewash - http://www.smellywasher.com that is supposed to remove the mold. I have tried at least a dozen empty loads with bleach over 2 years and it never helped a bit. I've also tried vinegar, borax, and Cascade, all with no help in the terrible smell. (08/29/2007)
Erika - Thanks so much for the advice on how to get rid of mildew odor from towels with Purewasher! It not only got our towels and washer smelling like new but I really think mine and my kids' allergies and asthma are gone! A green fungus came out when I cleaned it! It saved us from buying a new washer too! (09/30/2007)
From reading these responses it looks like people agree on Bleach, Vinegar, and Oxyclean are the three main things to try. I'm trying Vinegar first, then I'll move on to Oxyclean and then finally Bleach if the other two don't work.
All of these solutions have worked to get towels clean smelling, but how is it the very next time they are used, the smell is there again? Makes the whole bathroom unpleasant! Time to toss them? (10/30/2007)
How do I remove mildew smell from towels?
Diane from Encino
The number one best way to get rid of the smell is to pour a cup of ammonia in with your wash right at the beginning when the water is running. I just pour it in with the water. I have had the same problem with my towels, and this has cured it - thank goodness!!! (10/29/2006)
Wash and put extra liquid downey in the wash. Then dry outside on a line. Re-wash one more time if needed. It will take the smell out. (10/30/2006)
I always add borax in with my detergent with towels and it works great! (10/30/2006)
I had an appliance repairman out that explained that musty towel odor is caused by a fungus inside your washer that is caused by detergents. He took it apart and it was disgusting! He cleaned it with a product called "purewash". They buy it off the internet. I don't remember the site but it got my washer AND my towels smelling fresh again! (11/11/2006)
My friend's towels smell like mildew. She washed them many times and can't get the smell out. Any ideas?
Katie from Hickory Hollow, PA
She could try adding vinegar and baking soda to the final rinse -- it's worth a try. I've had trouble with large towels getting a musty smell too. Now I use thinner, smaller towels, which are cheaper to buy, easier to clean and take less time in the dryer, which will also save money in energy usage! (10/20/2006)