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Stinky Towels?

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 mostly use tide detergent, no fabric softener, and scent free dryer sheets. I am looking for some help so I can keep a towel on my head without thinking of wet dog!


Susan from Cranston, Rhode Island


Hang Towels Outside

I had this problem and asked my mom about it, she said to hang them out in the sun. She was right! it works wash them take them out still wet hang them in the sun for a few hours when they are dry throw them in the dryer for 5 minets to soften them up. hope this helps. (09/01/2006)

By chas

Clorox Bleach

Wow! A lot of feedback. What has worked for me is to put a SMALL amount of liquid clorox bleach in the water with the detergent, while it is filling, let it swish around then add the towels. I have had no obvious fading (Even with dark towels). I use about 1/4 cup of bleach. (09/01/2006)

By JIll from IA

Gain and Baking Soda

I also have the same problem in the summer time. I have tried all types of washing powders. I use Gain. I have found that if you add 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda in with the wasing powders and then 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water, they will not have the smell anymore. Hope this helps. As a last resort, wash in hot water. (09/01/2006)

By Sherry

Pine Sol

I have had good luck for stinky towels by using regular Pine Sol. Do not use the newer lemon scent. For the first time, use about 3/4 cup along with your regular detergent. After that add just 1/4 cup to each load. This works on anything that you want to disenfect without using bleach. (09/02/2006)

By guest

Stinky Towels?

Just to follow up. I tried to steam clean the drum and edge to get out the smell, don't waste your time. My wife cleaned the machine with Borax and baking soda and this didn't work ether. I have been reading a few new entries and find it SAD to hear people finding that the smell goes away only after adding baking soda, vinegar, Borax, filling it with bleach, etc, which is just an added expense and a temporary fix. If I knew of this problem before I bought this washer, I wouldn't have bought it! My 10-year-old washer was working fine, just rusty and I thought my wife deserves better. Sorry honey! (09/05/2006)


By Bob

Stinky Towels?

I have the same problem. My boyfriend and I almost broke up over this. He kept telling me that I was crazy and didn't know how to do laundry. That he had done laundry for years and it always smelled super fresh, that I must not know how to do laundry. This website helped so much. He is sitting here with me and jsut apologized for making me feel so badly. He would go to work and sweat and he would stink. One time, I even sprayed him with my body spray! We have the LG and are disgusted with the smell. IT IS FOUL! (09/12/2006)

By Sarah Jones

Stinky Towels?

I too have stinky towels and was so happy to find this site. I'm going to try several of the suggestions that I read. I won't use the liquid fabric softener any more either. For cotton dish cloth and small wash clothes that stink, I suggest taking a freshly laundered very WET folded cloth and microwaving it for about 2 minutes. Use tongs to remove the hot cloth and if the steam does not smell fresh, then microwave for another minute. This kills the bacteria that causes the sour smell. (09/15/2006)

By Julie

Stinky Towels?

I own a Kenmore Elite HE4T front loading washer and dryer. I am having a similar problem and appreciate this forum. However to me the towels smell more like medicine. Like the fungicide for athletes foot and that was what I was blaming it on (I have 3 boys). Could this be mold?? I looked through the manual and there is a section on cleaning your washer. It is a series of codes you must enter and then pour bleach in. I am trying that now and will definitely try the odorban. Also I will no longer mix our clothes with the towels. (09/19/2006)

By J

Stinky Towels?

Try 20 Mule Team Boraxo. I've noticed that if the clothes are left in the washing machine too long, say, overnight, before getting into the dryer, they can get stinky. So I try to get them out instantly after washing. Also, I now add 20 Mule Team Boraxo to the wash with the laundry soap and that helps remove the stink from the towels. However, if the stink is too ingrained, even this might not completely work...still experimenting with this. (09/24/2006)

By Jennifer

Stinky Towels?

One of the things i have noticed is that everyone is blaming the washer. I have found that cleaning out the dryer hose and casing by vacuuming it out you can eliminate one contributor of the musty smell. as the lint builds up and gets moist repeatedly, mildew starts to form. also take your dryer screen and wash it weekly with dish soap. fabric softener has wax that builds up on the screen and, for that matter fabrics and towels, which traps moisture in the dryer and becomes a sauna. once i did this i quit making stinky towels, but i am still trying to salvage the old ones. (09/28/2006)

By jk1996

Stinky Towels?

Just wanted to let everyone know that we ended up returning our LG washing machine and exchanged it for the LG with the sanitary cycle due to some problems that we had had with the washing machine not related to the smelly towels.

We got the new machine in July and we haven't had the smelly towels since. I do a sanitary cycle almost daily as I do home daycare and wash all of the facecloths/bibs, etc.

I will certainly keep you posted as to whether we get the smelly towels back. I also make sure to use vinegar in the rinse cycle rather than fabric softener all the time. I keep the door opened to the washer when it's not in use.

I also talked to LG about this problem and they suggested using bleach in the softener dispenser occasionally.

By Mummof3

Stinky Towels?

One added comment - Do you leave damp towels in a pile waiting to be laundered? I always put used towels directly into the wash, or hang them to dry if I can't wash them right away. My towels don't smell. However, I just got back from a 6 day trip, started the laundry and found a load of damp towels in the dryer! I forgot to DRY them! UGH. Now they ALL STINK!!! So, I googled "smelly towels" and found this site. I was surprised to find people having trouble with the washer. Can the smell possibly be from sitting around damp? I'm going to try the vinegar/baking soda trick. I hope it works. Also, with kitchen towels, I change them EVERY DAY and don't toss them into the laundry basket unless they're dry. (10/04/2006)


By Debbie


Vinegar works. End of story. I read all of the posts the other day, and decided to try the vinegar. I put a cup of vinegar in my wash with hot water and soaked all of my towels for one hour. I ran them through a full cycle and an extra rinse. then I ran them with my regular detergent and and an extra rinse. They smell so GREAT! It's amazing how bad they smelled. We almost tossed them and started over. I believe the theory about the fabric softener is dead on, because the only time I use Downy is when I wash my towels! Put two and two togther here! Hope this helps. Oh, it was regular run of the mill, white, distilled vinegar. (10/09/2006)


Stinky Towels?

I paid the $75 for a maintenance call from Sears because I was out of warranty and couldn't take the smell any more. I tried "green" detergents, running a cycle of hot water and bleach and vinegar and nothing helped. It was the best $75 I ever spent because that guy took my Kenmore apart and spent 30 minutes scraping and wiping off the most disgusting gook and gunk I had ever seen. There is nothing that could remove that but elbow grease.

My theory: if you run a large load in these new washers, the water doesn't fill up very high. Like most of us, we add water to the cycle. The wash suds up and then drains and the suds are left on the very top of the outside of the plastic tub. The rinse cycle fills up not quite as high and doesn't rince the tub. Wash after wash, the suds stick to the tub and dry up there after each wash. There's no way to rinse it off and Pew! It starts to build up and stink.

A year after my service call, it's back. Now I guess I'll get a new washer. Do I have any other choice?


By Julie


I have been dealing with stinky, fowl, musty reeking odor towels for awhile now myself and have been following this thread for awhile now. You know what I did? I have light colored towels and I put a medium brown washcloth in the mix, to see what would happen, and when the cycle started, I poured one round of bleach thru cycle. I put the towels in the dryer, nothing happened to the darker towel and hoped for the best. Sure enough, the stink was ALL gone, once I wet the towel again, so I gathered the rest, dark and light and did the same thing and sure enough... they are all better. This is my 3rd round of washing towels since the bleach process and they are smelling GREAT. Just wanted to let ya know! (10/24/2006)

By Summer

Water Heater

This problem may NOT be your washing machine. It may be your hot water system (not just the tank). If your hot water tank is set below about 150 degrees, you may be growing bacteria in your water tank and hot water pipes. Do your dishes also smell? Do you notice a odor in the steam in your shower or bath?

The solution is to flush the hot water pipes and tank. This is easily done with bleach if you are handy. If not, your plumber can do it. Do not be confused with "hot water tank ordor caused by the anode". That is most likely not the problem. Water temps below 150 will allow heat loving organizims to fluorish. We had this problem and it drove us nuts until we finally figured it out.

By the way, hot water is NICE. And you may use a little bit more power for HOT water but, you will use less water and your bill will not go up by very much. We have been clean for one year and our electric bill has not increased by more than a couple of bucks a month. Applicane repair guys will tell you, if you want clean, then use hot water. Don't expect your dishwasher to heat 120 degree water sufficiently to kill things, it can't. Same with your washer even if it is an HE3T.

How to flush is a good question. We used bleach and it took a couple of times to clean the system. We used a gallon of bleach in a 50 gal tank. Strong--yes but we are killing crud and it takes power to do it. Once flushed and with the tank set at 150 the crud can't grow and your system will stay clean and clear.
You can go here to read more: (11/01/2006)

By carmack


I was just talking to my husband about this because I am at odds about it. For 20 years I have never had this problem. As soon as we bought a front loader it started. My husband says that the rubber seal around the front loading washer folds into itself and water fills up in there to seal the water in while the cycle is going. Some of the water stays in there and it becomes stagnant and that is where your smell is coming from.

I do not believe it has anything to do with the downy. I have used it for years and never had a problem. I have gotten rid of the front loader and continued to use downy with no problems at all now with smell. I had to throw away all the other towels though. I couldn't get the smell out no matter what I tried.


By Molly

My Solution

I also have a front loading washer (Frigidaire) and had the smelly towel issue. I noticed the smell also coming from the rubber seal in the door. My husband ran the washer with hot water and bleach. I purchased Borax, added 1/2 cup directly to the towels. I rewashed all towels/facecloths in Tide and Borax on "hot" water and let them soak 20-30 min. The first time made a slight improvement and after the second time it totally eliminated the odour. I only use fabric sheets to dry them. I've also been leaving the washer door open to dry the seal out between washings. Hope this helps. Good luck! (11/03/2006)

By colleen from canada

Floor Drain

I posted my sollution to the stinky towel problem on 10/05/06. It has been 2 and 1/2 months since I put the floor drain in. I am telling everyone the it fixed the problem. I have went back to using softner also. It is working like a washing machine is supposed to. NO SMELL! I hope that this helps someone else. Buy the way, It will take a few Washing to get that smell out of your towels. Because that is one awful smell. (11/13/2006)

By puggle


I am a husband and I do not like smelly towels. My wife tried many things. We even live in Arizona where it is very dry and we had smelly towels. This OdoBan works for us. That is all I can say. Thanks to the one who suggested it and good luck to all. (11/19/2006)

By Paul

HE3 Not Draining

I agree with the man who put the floor drain in to correct the smelly HE3 problem. I have made numerous complaints to Sears and extended the warranty, had many service calls with 'no fix'. The water does not drain fully out of machine. when you run another cycle the mildew water gets fanned into the air when the machine spins, filling room with disgusting smell. If laundry is left in machine, it will also take on that mildew smell. It is a design problem, Sears should address and fix. (12/05/2006)

By Celest

Heavier Towels

I have this problem, but only with certain towels. I have some older, thinner fabric towels and some newer, more plush towels and I am only having trouble with the newer, heavier towels. I'm thinking it's not the machine, water, soaps, fabric softeners, etc. at all, rather the more dense towels don't get completely dry or completely washed. I've always used bleach in my towels. I haven't changed anything else. The various weight towels all wash and dry together. Is the trouble you're having with the heavy, plush towels? (12/10/2006)

By Jan

Poor Spin Cycle

I just resealed the hub seal on my Amana (made by Whirlpool) outer tub. In doing so, I found the tranny belt was quite worn and cracked, so I replaced it along with the tensioner spring. I now believe the cause of the stinky towel syndrome to be a poor spin cycle, as well as inadequate wash agitation. If damp towels are washed without adequate agitation, they retain the filth you are trying to wash out. Couple this with a poor rinse and spin cycle (all due to a slipping belt or a weak tranny), and you have the perfect recipe for towels with a stank your momma would spank you over. I think it high time for some accountability by manufacturers; to step in and offer some advice, suggestion, remedy... Let's make them an offer to come up with a solution without litigation. If none of them step up to the plate, then I have no sympathy for them in the courtroom or in the marketplace.


By Jim

Stinky Towels?

People, please calm down. Get the lawsuit nonsense out of your heads because if you read ALL the posts you will see that the prblem is not unique to Whirlpool or LG or Sears. Or more importantly front loaders. People with top loaders have that problem also, but admittedly less. There is no smoking gun!

Look instead to the commonality. Towels seem to be a big issue. They are for us. We have a Duet. But we also had the problem in our top loader. Could it be the towels? Of course we can now afford those high end "hotel style" towels. Extra thick. Problam is they take a long time to dry out after use. Especially the hand towels. Could it be that the bacteria are growing during that period of time? You bet. Ideal conditions. We can only get about 3-4 days out of our towels before we have to change them out. We wash ours on the "whitest white" setting. Hot water helps, as does the second rinse feature. We tried the OdoBan and it does seem to work, but I am not thrilled with the fragrance that it leaves. Still working on the right recipe for us.

We are happy with our Duet. It definitely is easier on our clothes. Just look at the reduced amount of lint in the dryer filter. Is it perfect? No, but a lot better than our top loader.

As for the woman whose husband's clothes smell. Please remember that there are other possible resons such as medications, diet (garlic or alcohol) or even personal hygeine.

Remember that you were drawn to your choice of washer by its features. Energy consumption, size, convenience. Take responsibility for your own actions. Being an engineer I can guarantee you that ther is no plot going on here. Could there be a design issue? Yes, of course. But the evidence in my opinion is not pointing to top loaders. (01/07/2007)

By John

Smaller Loads

I had the same problem with all my laundry and found partial relief by cutting the size of the loads. Overstuffing the washing machine was preventing the clothes from getting washed properly b/c there wasn't enough soap to go around. I still have the problem with the towels stinking and am going to try a bunch of the suggestions here. I have a feeling a combination of solutions will work. I will post back in a week or so. (01/13/2007)

By Alicia Staz

My Remedy

I solved my stinky towel problem. I use baking soda in the soap, hot water, extra rinse, and also vinegar in the rinse cycle. Also, check your drain hose, I noticed lint built up in it. Cleared it out, and with everything else, I have eliminated the stinky smell. (01/21/2007)

By seekimmy

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