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Smelly Towels? 4 Easy Ways to Fix It


The last thing you want to do when you step out of a nice warm shower is dry yourself off with a nasty-smelling towel. The stench can be overwhelming, and it really puts a damper on that “fresh from the shower” feeling. Luckily, this problem is easy to solve! With a few strategic cleaning cycles, the musty stench can be a thing of the past.
Here’s how:
The Golden Towel Rule: Do not let your towels stay wet! For each of these methods, it’s important that the towels are dried immediately. Set a timer to ensure that your clothes are switched from the washing machine to the dryer promptly. If you line dry, hang the wet towels in a sunny spot until they’re completely dry.
Method Vinegar Riding SoloMusty, smelly towels don’t play well with others, so give them their own load. Add one cup of white vinegar to the load – no detergent or fabric softener – and run the washer on the hottest possible setting. The vinegar will kill any lingering bacteria. Then, leave the clothes in the washing machine and run a “normal” load with a standard amount of detergent. Tip: Don’t add other items to your cycle – the towels should ride alone!
Method Baking Soda and Vinegar ComboYou may remember the baking soda-vinegar combo from your grade school science class days (think: homemade volcano), but these two kitchen powerhouses work well outside of the beaker, too! For this strategy, you’ll run two towels-only cycles. In the first towels-only cycle, add a quarter cup of baking soda and then run the hottest cycle possible. Then, during the second cycle, add a full cup of white vinegar. Think of it as a one-two punch to knock out bacteria and mildew.
Method Microwave Your Hand TowelsIf your stinky culprit is a hand or kitchen towel, moisten it and pop that baby in the microwave for 30 seconds. The zap from the microwave will kill bacteria. Important: Let it sit in the microwave for about 10 minutes before removing the towel to avoid a burn.
Method Double-Whammy DetergentSometimes, a double-dose of detergent over two cycles is all your towels will need to kick bacteria to the curb. Keep the load “towels only,” and run the same load back-to-back using your normal amount of detergent in each cycle. Tip: Avoid using fabric softener because it can add residue to towels and make them less absorbent.
If None of These Work: Still got must or mildew? The problem may be your washing machine itself. (This is especially true if you use a front-load washer.) If so, run an empty cycle on the hottest setting and add two cups of white vinegar. This will kill any bacteria lingering in the machine.
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smelly towels 4 easy ways to fix it, cleaning tips
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  • Jennifer
    on Oct 19, 2017

    These definitely work! I've been doing this for years
  • Gloricela Valenzuela
    on Jul 10, 2018

    Whenever my towels or laundry get that gross musty smell I wash the load with hot, add 2 cups of vinegar & the regular amount of laundry detergent to the load. I dont have to isolate the smelly stuff from the rest of the wash and I make sure it dries thoroughly. Works every time!

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