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stinky towels!!!

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
i need help! our towels always start off smelling nice and new... eventually some of them start smelling funky, kinda like mold, after a few uses... then some of them actually start smelling bad after just one or two uses. i've washed in hot/dried on high but don't like using bleach so i've never tried that route.

i keep hearing about everyone using baking soda and/or vinegar but i have no idea how to do this! please help me figure out how to get this yucky smell out of our towels! it's disgusting and i hate putting it up to my face to dry off, smell the yuck, and then have to go rewash my face to get the stink off.

tia,
liane
post #2 of 23
Does your washer have mold in the lines? Can you do an empty wash with just water and tea tree oil? See if that helps.
post #3 of 23
Probably a dumb question, but are you letting them sit in the washer too long before drying them? When I do that, they get all musty and gross smelling.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
thanks for the suggestions! i've tested my washer (with my trusty ol' nose) and there is no smell in there. i do have a front loading washer (with the rubber liner on the inside of the door) but no mold there either. i've also smelt around in the dryer and no smelly yucky odors there either. i read online that you should check the linen closet as well, and guess what? no moldy smell there either!!!

i try to take out the clothes from the washer as soon as it finishes, but sometimes i forget about it in the dryer once they're done drying. maybe that's where the problem lies... but i do use high heat and the "towel" setting so i don't know.

can anyone give me specific instructions on how to use baking soda (when to add it, how much, etc.) and how to use vinegar (when to add it, how much, etc.)?

thanks for all your help,
liane
post #5 of 23
I don't know that it has to be real scientific. For general washing (towels & otehr stuff) I fill the fabric softener dispenser of my washer w/ vinegar (if your washer doesn't have one, a downey ball (sold in the laundry aisle) does the same thing). If I leave a load sitting too long in the washer (which is generally the only time I have a problem w/ stinky laundry) I'll re-wash it & either dump a scant laundry scoop of baking soda in w/ the detergent or a healthy "splash" of vinegar in w/ the detergent (in addition to the vinegar in the fabric softener thingy). Don't dump baking soda & vinegar in together or they'll fizz up. I also sometimes add some lavender EO &/or Tea Tree oil to the wash water &/or the fabric softener cup to kill bacteria & make it all smell better.

It also occured to me, as I typed, that the cure to stinky diapers is often to use LESS detergent because if it doesn't all get rinsed out it causes stink. I don't know if that could be true w/ towels or not, but wouldn't hurt to try doing a load w/ very little (or even no) detergent, just baking soda.

HTH
post #6 of 23
The children's health environmental coalition has some advice:


# Fabric rinse: Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the washing machine's rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes, eliminating that scratchy feel. This will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar!
# Detergent booster: To reduce the amount of laundry detergent you need to use, add baking soda or washing soda. These minerals soften the water, which increases the detergent's power. For liquid detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda at the beginning of the wash. For powdered detergent, add 1/2 cup of soda during the rinse cycle.
# Bleach: Use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach

I have a front loader and dryer. My towels occasionally get a bit funky. I find that washing them on hot in a long cycle and then drying them on high takes care of the smell. I don't think the mold and mildew can withstand the heat.
post #7 of 23
Keep the door of your frontloader open when not in use.

And I find that towels can sour faster than anything else. I add Calgon water softener when they get that way. Sometimes it is a build-up of detergents, too.
post #8 of 23
It may be something that is in your towels and not getting washed out. Try mixing up an oxygen bleach (like Oxi-Clean) and soaking all the towels in it for about 2 hours, then washing and drying as usual.
post #9 of 23
Just subbing to the thread. We've got the same problem right now. I've had it in the past and solved it by using Borax in my wash cycle and drying on hot for a long time. I think it's back now b/c of the humidity in our mobile home. The whole bathroom is kind a smelly:
post #10 of 23
How about line drying the towels outside in the sun? I never put my towels in the dryer. I always line dry outside or line dry inside during the cold months. I have never had a stinky towel problem that way.
post #11 of 23
My mother has this problem with her towels because there are so many people in her house and not enough towel racks to dry them all nicely after showers/baths; they all get piled on the side of the tub and start to stink BAD. I get so grossed out when using her towels. She can't get rid of the smell either, but I've found hot wash & tea tree oil helps some.
post #12 of 23
it may have nothing to do with your washing/drying technique. i've found that the towels that live nicely folded in the linen closet stay good smelling, but those that are actually hung up in the bathroom can develop the mysterious stink. it most likely has something to do with the humidity of the bathroom, frequency of use, and the way the towel is hung. dh always throws his towel on the hook on the back of the door and it gets to stinking fast, but when i remind him to drape it over the curtain rod to dry, we get a lot more use out of it. hand towels tend to get wet more often and stay wet longer because ...which would more than likely lead to stinking faster.
post #13 of 23
I had a similar problem and I finally found a solution which is working so far. I use 4 oz. of hydrogen peroxide and 3/4 of the recommended amount of color safe bleach made by Publix. It has hydrogen peroxide in it as well. If you don't live in an area served by Publix ,probably any brand of color safe bleach containing hydrogen peroxide will work. I've tried vinegar, baking soda, regular bleach, tea tree oil even peppermint oil and mouthwash. Nothing really worked except the bleach and then I couldn't tolerate the smell. Good luck!
post #14 of 23
I find oxyclean seems to work well with that...or you can be careful and rotate the towels frequently. Instead of using the same one multiple times, do it instead every other day or two days.
post #15 of 23
strip them like you would diapers.
then DONT use any fabric softener on ANYTHING. use vinegar instead.
wash as often as possible and dry until they are BONE dry.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosesface View Post
it may have nothing to do with your washing/drying technique. i've found that the towels that live nicely folded in the linen closet stay good smelling, but those that are actually hung up in the bathroom can develop the mysterious stink. it most likely has something to do with the humidity of the bathroom, frequency of use, and the way the towel is hung. dh always throws his towel on the hook on the back of the door and it gets to stinking fast, but when i remind him to drape it over the curtain rod to dry, we get a lot more use out of it. hand towels tend to get wet more often and stay wet longer because ...which would more than likely lead to stinking faster.

That was what I was going to say- DH always leaves his wet towel in the bathroom, and I usually discover it after a few hours (when I get home from work) so I immediately wash them but they still seem to pick up some of that odor. Our bathroom has NO ventilation so we are resorting to putting them on the back of a chair in the dining room. Looks great if company pops in unexpectedly!
post #17 of 23
My towels were getting stinky when I didn't have a big enough closet outside the bathroom to keep them in. At the time I was keeping them on a shelf in my bathroom so they were always there, getting all steamed up when ever we took a shower. At the time I would wash them with a cup of vinegar every few months. Now that we have moved I don't have to do this anymore. So the stink should eventually come out and stay out (as long as the towel can dry between uses).

Sarah
post #18 of 23
I always use vinegar in my rinse for towels, little detergent and hot water. I don't measure the vinegar, I have a front loader and I just fill the rinse section up to the max line. Then, I put them in the dryer on hot immediately after they are done. I threaten my dh within an inch of his life when I catch him not hanging the towel up after using it Oh, and I prefer to hang it over the shower curtain rod instead of a towel rack since there is more room to circulate air. And, I insist on keeping the bathroom door open (not just for the towel's sake, but to keep the bathroom from getting funky). When it's really humid, I set a fan up at the bathroom door to help get some circulation going.

If your towels are really bad, I think hanging them in the sun is very much worth a try. Or, you could try some TTO or GSE in your wash/rinse to kill the yuckies.
post #19 of 23
Try ammonia.
post #20 of 23
I just had this problem tonight. I was gone for two days and my husband threw wet towels in a laundry basket.

I always add baking soda in the washer. If there is a musty smell, or any smell or stain, I add Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out to the water and presoak. It works great.
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