How to Get Rid of Nasty Mildew Odors on Your Kitchen Dish Towels

4 Materials
5 Minutes

Learn how to remove odor from kitchen dish towels! Sponsored by Enviroklenz and has my affiliate links.

Whenever my children make a mess, I encourage them to clean it up.

They dutifully grab a clean kitchen towel and sop up the mess, somewhat haphazardly, but they do it.

Other times I ask my kids to help me get ready for dinner by wiping down the table and chairs. They again dutifully grab a new clean kitchen towel, wet it, and wipe down the table, again somewhat haphazardly, but at least it’s done and cleanish. I thank them for helping regardless.

Often I go in after them and make sure all the spots and messes are wiped up properly, as they are still young and learning and don’t pay as much attention to detail as I do.

Having to wipe it down again doesn’t bother me. They are learning the importance of work, but I still want it clean.

What does bother me is how often they grab kitchen towels rather than a kitchen washcloth. They grab the giant clean cloth for small simple messes, dripping water and stuff everywhere as they go when they could grab the washcloth already sitting on the edge of the sink that I got out fresh that morning.

Depending on the number of spills and accidents in our home (which are lately at an all time high thanks to my 2-year-old), it can equal a lot of fresh kitchen towels becoming saturated each day.

The mass of wet kitchen towels especially bothers me because they have not been rinsed out properly or hung somewhere to dry.

Instead, they collect at the bottom of my sink where they soak up milk and food residue as my children dump the remainder of their dinner or lunch or whatever into that sink regardless of me telling them to put it in the sink with the garbage disposal! This often creates kitchen towels and washcloths that collect mildew, slime, discoloration, and smell. It can be super nasty some days!

Unfortunately, when I throw them in the wash, they don’t always come out smelling a ton better. Some still stink and cause everything I wipe down with them to stink (including my hands afterward which drives me bonkers!). And when I make the mistake of washing regular laundry with the stinky kitchen towels, all of our clothes smell nasty too!

Here are some things I try to do to limit the grossness and smells on kitchen dish towels:

How to Keep Dish Towels from Smelling

1. Use a new dish towel each day.

2. Use a microfiber dish cloth ( like these) or one that dries quickly.

3. After cleaning with your wash cloth, rinse it well in hot water, wring it out, then hang to dry, and not on your sink. A command hook, kitchen cabinet handle or knob, or your microwave or oven handle work great.

4. Instruct your children to do step 3 and use the same towel throughout the same day (unless more are required).

5. Launder dish towels often.

6. Don’t let them sink wet in the sink where food and liquids can collect on them…

How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Kitchen Towels

If you aren’t super diligent about the above, which we are not, and want to know how to remove mildew odors from kitchen towels, I found a product to help you remove mildew odors from dish towels, kitchen washcloths, and even my toddler’s bibs!

The great thing about EnviroKlenz products is their effective and safe ingredients. EnviroKlenz liquid Laundry Enhancer contains water, magnesium hydroxide (foaming agent), ZnO (zinc oxide to absorb toxic chemicals), and TiO2 (titanium dioxide). That’s it.

No added fragrances or dyes or other chemicals. It’s safe on cotton, delicates, nylon, polyester, spandex, washable lace, washable rayon, washable wool, and any other fabrics the manufacturer deems safe to put through a wash cycle.

Their earth mineral technology safely neutralizes any odors left in the clothing or in your machine itself. It eliminates allergens and sensitivities to the following:

  • stubborn laundry odors such as musty & mildew smells
  • fragrances from detergents & fabric softeners
  • perfumes smell and scents
  • pet odors
  • cigarette smoke
  • smells from items being in storage for a long time
  • new clothes smells
  • thrift store odors left on clothing by the previous owner

Get 15% off any EnviroKlenz purchase with my discount code FAGANS15! It’s a special code just for my readers!

Here’s how to use it to remove smells from your kitchen dish cloths (and bibs and whatever else smells):

Materials Needed to Remove Mildew Smell from Kitchen Cloths

  • Washing Machine
  • Regular Laundry Detergent
  • Warm or Hot Water
  • EnviroKlenz Laundry Enhancer
  • Measuring Cup

Instructions on How to Remove Mildew Odors from Kitchen Towels

For Top Loading Washing Machines:

1. Partially fill your washer with warm or hot water.

2. Add your normal detergent.**

3. Add 1/4 cup liquid detergent for a small load or 1/2 cup for a medium or larger load (I found more is better either way). If using the powder version, add 1 or 2 scoops then agitate the powder in the tub before going on to the next step.

4. Add your dish cloths, bibs, and other kitchen towels. Don’t overload the wash.

5. Use a cycle with more agitation and an extra rinse at the end of the cycle, but do not do any pre-wash or pre-soak cycles.

6. Once the wash cycle is completed, put them in the dryer on hot as soon as possible.

For HE and Front Loading Washing Machines:

1. Add your regular detergent to the designated detergent slot.**

2. Add the 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup liquid or 1-2 scoops powder Laundry Enhancer to the detergent slot also. Make sure it will be dispensed during the main wash and agitation cycle.

3. Load dish cloths, bibs, and other kitchen towels into your machine. Don’t overload the wash.

4. Use a cycle with more agitation and an extra rinse at the end of the cycle, but do not do any pre-wash or pre-soak cycles.

5. Once the wash cycle is completed, put them in the dryer on hot as soon as possible.

**Do not use in combination with bleach, vinegar, or other additives.

I will be using this every time I wash my kitchen towels and bibs, and make sure I wash them separate from the rest of my laundry, because they’d often make my other clothes stink when they were washed together!

The kitchen cloths smell clean and mildew and musty free after they come out of the dryer.

Now, if I can just remind my kids of the rules regarding the kitchen dishcloths and towels things would be even better.

The EnviroKlenz store also has things like:

  • HVAC Filters
  • Carpet Odor Neutralizers
  • Respirators
  • Everyday Odor Eliminators
  • Hand Soap
  • A Mobile Environment Cleaner
  • HEPA Filters

Plus, you can use FAGANS15 to receive 15% off your purchase!

If you like great cleaning tips like this, be sure to grab a copy of Speed Clean the Deep Clean!

Suggested materials:
  • Laundry Enhancer   (Enviroklenz)
  • Measuring Cup
  • Washing Machine
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Katelyn Fagan
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Diana Cotton Diana Cotton on Feb 26, 2021

    I use 1/4-1/2cup of pinesol (depending on size of loads) to remove musty odors from towels/clothing. Generic/off brands work just as well to.

    • Em Em on May 05, 2021

      That smell is horrible. Smells like a bar!

  • Jeremy Jeremy on Mar 15, 2021

    I threw like a half cup of rubbing alcohol along with the laundry detergent, let the load presoak for a few