Eek, I threw a huge load of towels in the washer last night and when I opened it this morning it smelled terribly of mold. I am so mad I didn't go through the basket but I have never had that happen before! It has been really hot and humid here and we don't have AC. All of the wet towels and cloths must have caused some mold or mildew to grow...and now I have washed all of my towels with it. Nearly every towel we own is in that load! We really can't afford to buy all new towels right now :(
I just ran it again extra hot, extra Biokleen detergent, a package of RLR, and a splash of bleach- too much? I don't know, I am desperate! What do I do if it comes out with everything still smelling moldy? Just bleach the heck out of it and ruin all my nice colors? Most of our nice towels were wedding gifts that have held up so well, I know I wouldn't be able to afford to replace them with anything nearly as nice- especially since all my kitchen towels are in there too
Oh I need these to wash clean. Is there any hope?
Just in case anyone ever searches and come across, here is what I did.
I did a hot wash with detergent. Still smelled bad.
Did a sanitize -extra hot- with RLR and a splash of bleach. Vinegar in the rinse. Better but still smelled.
Since it had been hours and I had a ton more laundry to do I followed another hint online and put the load into the dryer (excepting 1 item found with visible mildew stains which I threw since it was not an important item) and dried on the hottest setting until everything was completely dry.
And...came out smelling fine!
yay! Hopefully it doesn't all smell bad when it gets wet. if so I am going to do another extra hot wash with a lot of vinegar and dry hot as well.
Is it mold or bacteria? Bacteria is commonly that locker-room/dirty sock smell. Bacteria and mold/mildew never co-exist because they compete for the same food sources. Mold/mildew takes at least 24-48 hours to grow, which is why I suspect it's just bacteria on your towels.
And if it's bacteria, it's no big deal. Deal with it just as you would the stinky, sweaty socks in the gym locker. The bleach is overkill, IMHO. For future reference, put some distilled white vinegar in the bleach and/or fabric softener compartment, and run it on hot. If you can, dry them in the sun. They'll come out starchy, but the sun is one more enemy to the bacteria. If not, they'll be fine in the dryer.
Interesting. I have never heard the difference between the bacteria and mold/mildew. It was definitely mildew and not just a bacteria smell. There were mildew spots on a potholder I found in the wash with the towels. The towels and cloths in the bottom of the hamper were almost 10 days old...so it sounds like it was enough time for mildew to grow in a damp and hot environment. In this weather I need to be more diligent about washing the towels more frequently and I am now hanging all cloths to dry before putting them in the hamper to avoid another gross load of laundry. Once I googled for tips and read about using vinegar I had a "oh duh, of course" moment because I had completely overlooked using vinegar instead.
Thanks for the information!
If my clothes come out of the wash smelly after sitting in there too long, I either dry (on the line or in the dryer) and re-wash or add 1 cup of baking soda to the load and re-wash.