How can I get my towels to smell good?

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No matter how much fabric softener I put with my towels and wash cloths, they always seem to have a yucky smell to them. My other clothes do not have this smell. What can I add to my washing that would make them smell fresh?

  11 answers
  • Felicia Zanie Felicia Zanie on Aug 07, 2018

    I got this recipe from this web site: You will need a wide mouth glass jar, white distilled vinegar, a few wash cloths, and your favorite essential oil.


    Pour the vinegar into the jar, add about 2-3 teaspoons of your favorite essential oil and the cloths. Add one soaked wash cloth to the dryer with your clothes, it not only takes out static, it also smells really good! I love it.

  • By Brittany Goldwyn By Brittany Goldwyn on Aug 07, 2018

    Are the older towels? I find that towels definitely wear out faster than clothes and need replaced. Soaking in Oxyclean or vinegar can help extend their life, I've found.

  • Dodie Dodie on Aug 07, 2018

    using fabric softener on towels causes them to hold odors and not be as absorbent

    • See 2 previous
    • Cindy Cindy on Aug 08, 2018

      Thanks Heather. I used to use just the fabric sheets. Then it seemed like the liquid fabric softeners smelled so great. So I started using both. My regular clothes come out smelling fresh. It's just the towels. When you said you just have white towels that made me think of when my daughter in law washed her towels at my house a few times and they smelled so good. They were white towels and she was using the liquid softener just like I was. I wonder if the smell/scent just doesn't penetrate into white towels like colored towels. Several answers to my question have suggested vinegar. So I think I'll give that a try. Vinegar is good for so many household things. I appreciate your response. Thanks again.


  • Cheryl Cheryl on Aug 07, 2018

    Use cleaning vinegar. I add it every 3-4 weeks

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Aug 07, 2018

    I also add vinegar to my towels. I use it with every wash because I hate that musty smell!

    • See 1 previous
    • Libbie B Libbie B on Aug 08, 2018

      1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. I put it though the bleach area and my towels come out fresh and fluffy!

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Aug 07, 2018

    I also add vinegar to my towels. I use it with every wash because I hate that musty smell!

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Aug 07, 2018

    I also add vinegar to my towels. I use it with every wash because I hate that musty smell!

  • Oliva Oliva on Aug 08, 2018

    You don't need fabric softener. It causes towels to absorb less water and wear out faster. Make yourself 6 felted wool dryer balls (special all wool-no nylon or blends!) is available from JoAnn Fabric. Instructions with video on the web, under "making feltdd wool dryer balls). When done making the dryer balls, wash them with a load of laundry that can handle very hot water and very hot drying. This causes the wool to "felt". The dryer balls will fluff your towels so much, you'll wonder why you ever used fabric softener.

    The wool costs about $7.00/skein, but you can usually get 6 balls out of 4 skeins. Wrap it quite tight, and don't forget to thread through the ball any loose ends of wool. It's reusable, for a very long time, and less expensive than the fabric softener, which is generally not advised in today's machines.

    If you have a front loading washer, it is absolutely vital that you wipe the gaskets dry after laundering, and prop open (wide) the door. Further, slide open the drawer into which you add detergent and leave it open, too, until your next laundry day. Failure to do this can result in a mildew or mold smell in your washer and on your laundry.

  • Victoria Victoria on Aug 08, 2018

    Try adding white vinegar yo your wash, it is a natural deodorizer!

  • Auntie Lynne Auntie Lynne on Aug 09, 2018

    Try drying outside.

  • Twyla J Boyer Twyla J Boyer on Aug 09, 2018

    Wash towels on long cycle, ideally with bleach. Do NOT use fabric softener. Make sure they are really, really dry and cool before putting them away. And make sure that the place you store them isn't where they are picking up the musty odor. If it is, you will need to clean out the storage place to get rid of the smell and use something to dehumidify it regularly after. Ventilated shelving and not cramming towels in tightly helps, too. In my experience, this musty odor is very common in places where there is no central air and it is hot and muggy a lot of the time. It is a hard problem to solve, but the advice above has worked well for me.

    • Cindy Cindy on Aug 09, 2018

      Thank you so much for this advice. I did use to store them with my husband's sweaty clothes but I quite doing that. But his clothes come out smelling good. It's just the dang towels I have trouble with. I have received some good advice for all of you and will put that advice into motion.

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