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How To Get The Smell Out Of Towels!

How To Get The Smell Out Of Towels!

We all have that one towel in our homes retains its musty smell, no matter how often we wash it. The smell is so strong, it will circulate to all other towels in the cup and ruin all the fabric.

We end up cutting the towel into rags, which is a shame since it used to be such a nice towel. How in the world do you remove strong odors from towels?

Borax, vinegar, baking soda, switching detergents, and washing soda can remove potent smells from towels. It’s also a good idea to clean the hamper, as this could retain smells from clothing or towels as well.

If everything you place into the washer continues to stink after the washing cycle, it could be the washer or the water infecting the laundry loads with its horrible smell.

How To Get The Smell Out Of Towels

There’s nothing more unpleasant than taking a nice hot shower or bath, picking up your towel to wrap it around your body, and finding that the towel stinks!

When all you have is a stinky towel, you only have two options: wrap the stinky towel around your body or run naked into the hallway and get a new towel.

When your towels have a lingering smell that just won’t go away, there are some ways to detoxify your towels and remove any scent that have embedded themselves in the fabric.

It should be mentioned that using too much detergent and not enough water can prevent the detergent from cleaning clothing and thin towels.

If you find the towels do not smell good or retain their pre-washed odors, reduce the amount of detergent you add in the washing machine.

Towel fabric is much stronger than our clothing fabric, so it can handle stronger washing additives.

There are a few substances you can add to your detergent to amplify their cleaning power and to remove those awful smells from your towels. But do not add extra detergent.

Old Detergent Residue Can Build Up on Towels

Some detergents and soaps can leave a residue embedded within the towel fabric. As we continue to wash with that detergent, the microscopic residue will build and build onto the towel fabric.

After a certain amount of washes, the detergent cannot remove the dirt and grime and stench from the towels. The detergent cannot wash away the soap residue from previous washes.

When this happens, you need to switch to a different and more powerful soap that will counteract the residue, build up and strip it away.

Detergents and cleaning equipments

Ways to Remove Residue and Odors From Towels

Vinegar in the Rinse Wash

If your washing machine has a tiny compartment for fabric softener, pour vinegar in the compartment.

When the machine shifts to the rinse cycle, it will first pour the contents of the fabric softener compartment into the wash and rotate for longer. Then it will drain the water and spin the clothes.

Some washing machines do not have a fabric softener compartment. To navigate around this obstacle, pour the cup of vinegar directly into the water.

The order in which the clothes spin and drain is why you should never pour the soap in the fabric softener compartment. There will be soap residue all over your clothes.

You may not notice the soap residue and you will load the clothes into the dryer.

As the clothes dry, the soap can affect the texture of the fabric and stiffen the clothes. Plus, dried soap will stain your clothes and they will require an extra wash to remove the stains.

If you do pour detergent into the fabric softener compartment, then just add another rinse cycle after the load of laundry finishes spinning the first time. The extra rinse cycle will remove the soap.

Mix Baking Soda to Your Regular Detergent

Baking soda is a great additive that will remove powerful smells. The chemicals in baking soda can amplify the detergent and neutralize odors.

If you do not want to add baking soda to the detergent compartment on your machine, pour it directly on your dry load of laundry before starting the washing cycle.

Washing Soda or Borax

Borax and washing soda are both great to neutralize smells. However, borax should only be used in hot water.

Also, the higher temperature of the water can help loosen any caked on grime or old detergent from previous washes.

In contrast to borax, washing soda is a great washing additive that can be added to any temperature water. Washing soda is more powerful than borax because it has a lower pH level.

The lower pH level means that it is more acidic and better at removing dirt grime and smells.

Also, you don’t need to use as much washing soda as you would borax. For washing soda, use just ½ a cup and for borax, use one full cup.

How to Clean Microfiber or Camping Towels

Camping or microfiber towels are anti-bacterial by design. Using a microfiber towel can aid in the destruction of bacteria, as 99% of all bacteria on a microfiber towel dies. But you can’t clean them like you would regular towels.

So how would you clean a microfiber towel?

Do not use a detergent that has a scent to clean microfiber towels.

If you have enough microfiber towels to do an entire load of laundry, separate the towels and wash the microfiber towels together.

Microfiber towels do not need as much detergent. Use two teaspoons of detergent, at most, to clean a microfiber towel. Detergent can easily build up inside the fibers of the microfiber towel.

How to Deep Clean a Microfiber Towel

In order to deep clean the towel, you should:

  • Place a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
  • Then place the microfiber towel into the boiling pot of water along with a quarter cup of baking soda.
  • Once the towel and soda are in the pot of water, turn off the fire. Leave the microfiber towel in the pot of boiling water for up to 12 minutes.

Other Solutions

Maybe it is not lingering smells or old residue causing your towels to stink. It could be your washer! The hoses and rubber inside the washer can get dirty or become moldy.

So how in the world do you wash your washer?

It’s actually quite easy. Washing machine cleaner tablets are available in most major stores. Place a washing machine cleaner tablet into the empty washing drum.

Then turn on the washer, switch the water temperature to the hottest setting, and run a full regular cycle.

Washing machines also have washing and care instructions in their user’s manual. The panel that has the washing control should have a self clean button.

Washing machine with dirty laundry

Your Hamper Could Be Smelly

If you have a fabric or wicker hamper, the odors from the dirty towels and clothing can spread to the fabric.

After a few weeks, a cloth hamper can stink and turn any other piece of clothing inside the hamper pungent and gross. Never place a wet or damp towel into a hamper.

Conclusion to Getting the Smell Out of Towels

Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and vinegar are all cheap ingredients that can remove strong smells from towels.

Also, washing machines can grow mold and start stinking and the smell will transfer to every load of laundry you wash.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.