How to Freshen your Smelly Towels

June 26, 2012

We’ve talked about how to soften your scruffy towels but what about when your towels get that awful, mildewy smell?  This happens when they don’t dry all the way before you use them again or if you left a forgotten load of towels in the washer for too long.  You open the door to retrieve them and they smell so bad, you’re tempted to throw them out.  But don’t  – they can be revived.  Just follow these steps.

  • Wash Towels on the hottest water setting possible.  You may need to turn your hot water heater up for this wash.  This is heavy duty stink you gotta get rid of and it needs hot, hot water.  If you have a machine with a sanitizing option, use that.
  • Wash on the longest, most heavy duty cycle your washer offers.  The sturdy cotton material most towels are made of can handle it.  This is the type of item your “heavy duty cycle” is made for so have no fear and use it!  To get rid of that horrible smell and most likely the bacteria causing the smell, the towels need a lot of agitation and the long cycle will help the process.
  • Use a capful of detergent up to the top fill line.  Be sure to use high-quality detergent and a lot of it.
  • Use a full scoop of oxi-clean in the wash and 1/2-1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse. Just put the vinegar straight into the fabric softener dispenser.  Do not use fabric softener.  It will only mask the smell and the next time you use the towels to dry off, the smell will be back.  If after this initial washing your towels still smell moldy, repeat the above steps before drying.  Heat will set in the smell.  You may have to repeat the washing steps a few times if the towels are exceptionally stinky.
  • Line dry or set on a portable drying rack in direct sunlight if possible. Fresh air and hot sunshine will help further get rid of the smell.  If you can’t dry them outside, dry them on the hottest setting on your dryer.  Make sure they are completely dry.  This advice contradicts our drying guide in our blog ”top 10 ways to ruin your clothes” but remember, you’re trying to get rid of a very difficult smell to remove.  In this one situation, you want to use the hottest heat and be certain they are completely dry.  If they are wet at all when you put them away, they will smell horrible again the next time you use them.

If the do-it-yourself process above sounds more than you’d like to tackle, we’ll clean your smelly towels as part of our Family Wash.  Just let us know they need special attension.  We use the highest-quality detergents or we can use the detergent (we retain these for you and inform you when supplies are low).

To get started, please bring your laundry to any of our 17 locations, or call 317-577-5752 to set up free delivery within our delivery area.

- S.O.

2 Responses to “How to Freshen your Smelly Towels”

  1. Tanya says:

    I have beige towels that I use in one bathroom, and white ones in my other bathroom. I always bleach my white towels, and they never smell. However, I can’t bleach my beige ones (obviously) and I was about to get rid of them because they were starting to smell awful. (These towels are only a year old, they look great, but the smell took my breath away.) I couldn’t get rid of the smell no matter what I did:

    *Hottest water setting – nope

    *More detergent – nope

    *Heavy duty, extra rinse cycle – nope

    *Hottest dryer setting, long drying time – nope (I couldn’t try the “let them dry in the sun method” – I live in the Seattle area)

    So, I was about to throw them out, but finally tried the vinegar-in-the-rinse-water method. OMG, I wish I had tried that FIRST! It worked! All my beige towels are fresh smelling again and I don’t have to throw them away!

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