43 answers

Getting That Musty Smell Out of My Bath Towels

Maybe someone can help me out....

It never fails, I buy bath towels and after a few several times of using them, they get stinky. It's a musty type smell and I dont know how it gets there or how to get rid of it. It' doesn't happen to my white bath towels because I think the bleaching really helps with the problem, but my other towels I've tried soaking in color safe bleach, oxy clean and different brands of laundry detergent, but nothing helps. Eventually I end up throwing them out and buys a few new ones.
anyone have any advice, or have the same issue??

2 moms found this helpful

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Featured Answers

Hello N. O;

My name is De Dee and I am a mother of three teenage and preteens. I found that sometimes using something too much may stop working. I change detergent will help, like using deodorant's sometimes it goes out (lol). No seriously I used tied and after a while it did stop working like i wasn't using enough or it just wasn't working. I recently got married and had to change so I started using Gain with a Fabric softener and everyone in the house loves it. It has cut down on the smell my partner brings in from the plant and the pet smell the kids bring in after playing all day. Try it hope it works for you.... Have a good day

I'm so glad you asked this question and received so many responses. I have had the same problem. I'm going to start using some of the advise that has been given out.

I bleach all my towels unless they are a very dark color and never have problems with fading. If you want to stay away from bleach, vinegar is a great anti-bacterial agent.

More Answers

N. -

I had this problem for years. Did some research and found that towels need to be washed in HOT water with white vinegar added. Apparently, with the trend to cold water washing, gunk builds up in the washer that doesn't get thoroughly flushed out. At least one load of hot water washing a week helps and will definitely make your towels smell better. Since I switched to this method, our towels are smelling sweet! Give it a try. L.

1 mom found this helpful

Stinky towels are the worst!!!! Especially when you know you JUUUST washed them!

Here's my tip - Baking soda in the washer. That does it everytime... and I mean the stinkiest of stinky kitchen wash rags too! No stink left in them!

Good luck! Have fun!

I had that same problem and looked on-line what to do.

Now I put 1 cup of white vinegar into the washer before adding my towels and I don't use any fabric softner.

I have to do it every time or that smell comes back.

B.

thank you for posting this question! i just asked a bunch of other moms this same question while i was at a playgroup earlier this week, because i'm having the same problem!

they said to wash them and then dry them immediately following on the hottest setting your dryer has.

another suggestion was to line dry them out in the sunshine. my friend swears by this and even sneaks the dish rags out to the clothes line in the dead of winter if it's a sunny day. she said even if they don't get all the way dry that way - the sun has done it's job - and she finishes drying them in the dryer.

please post what you try and if it works - i'd love to know!

I'm so glad you asked this question and received so many responses. I have had the same problem. I'm going to start using some of the advise that has been given out.

Use white vinegar in your wash. I am amazed at the odors it is able to remove. Occasionally the load will smell a tiny bit like vinegar, but after drying they just smell clean!

Nancy,
Sometimes my boys will leave a wet towel in their room, and the only reason I find it is because I follow the smell! I get a product from Sams Club called ODO-BAN, it is the best stuff for removing odors. It removes that moldy, mildewey smell, it also will remove smoke odors (it is used in fire restoration) it kills germs, bacteria, and viruses. I have even used it on the upholstery in my van when one of my boys threw up in there(in the hottest part of summer!) and I couldn't get that "pukey" smell out any other way.
What I do when I use it in the laundry is put it in the fabric softer dispenser, it works really well and has a very pleasant floral smell, it smells really fresh and clean. I havent had any issues with discoloration or fading on my clothes either.
It is sold in a 1 gallon jug and is concentrated. It also has a spray bottle with ODO-BAN (ready to use) included. The price is $9.99 and a gallon jug will last me about a year with just normal use around the house and in my laundry. I highly recommend it.

I have had this problem too. I always used a powder form of laundry soap (Tide with Bleach). Then I changed to a liquid and then I started having the problems. I went back to powder Tide with Bleach and have not had a problem since. This had also happened to my mom and my sister whenever they went to the liquid detergent. So we all changed back to a powder form. Not sure if that is the case with you. Hope you find a remedy.

Does your washing machine smell that way also? If so, follow the manufacturer directions for getting rid of it. If not, have you tried adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle? It might work.

Wash your towels in a separate wash - no other clothes - and add some vinegar. Don't use liquid fabric softener with your towels, use a dryer sheet.

Oh I hate that smell, I know just what you're talking about.. It happens from either leaving them in the washer too long, or storing them somewhere thats damp. Never store your towels in a closet tat is directly in the bathroom.
Maybe a hall closet. Then just make sure they are totally dry before taking out of the dryer and putting away. As far as getting the existing smell out, looks like you already have great responses for that :)

Hi,

I had the same problem. It drove me crazy. We have an front loading washer. Every time I used the machine the towels would smell musty. Didn't matter if I used bleach or anything else. I was also using Tide detergent. I now use an environmentally friendly detergent that Costco carries and the mustiness has stopped completely. I also leave the washer door open to dry out after running the machine.

last year i pulled out my clothes for the previous season (winter clothes) from a plastic bin to find water had somehow gotten in there. i washed them in hot water and borax twice and the smell came right out. you can find it right next to the laundry soap at the stores.

Hello N. O;

My name is De Dee and I am a mother of three teenage and preteens. I found that sometimes using something too much may stop working. I change detergent will help, like using deodorant's sometimes it goes out (lol). No seriously I used tied and after a while it did stop working like i wasn't using enough or it just wasn't working. I recently got married and had to change so I started using Gain with a Fabric softener and everyone in the house loves it. It has cut down on the smell my partner brings in from the plant and the pet smell the kids bring in after playing all day. Try it hope it works for you.... Have a good day

I bleach all my towels unless they are a very dark color and never have problems with fading. If you want to stay away from bleach, vinegar is a great anti-bacterial agent.

bleach as usual and add 1/4 cup vinegar to the final rinse.

Hi, N.

First of all we got a new towel bar to hang the towels to dry on. If they are left in a basket or whatever you put them in they will get that musty smell. I draw the water in the washer and add a bit of bleach before I add the towels (colored) to the water. They will turn out ok. But, if they are to bad smelling you may just want to dispose of them. You can even smell it on your skin if you wipe with them. Keeping them dry after use is the key!!! We use our more than once. The towel bar works great!!

Good luck, M. H.

I also was having a problem. But only after buying one of those new upright washers. If this is the type of machine you have I've found I can'not leave the door close at all! And I must remove the towels right away and but them into the dryer, a.s.a.p. And only Downy fabric softner works, lesser brands don't hold up. As I type this I realize that is the biggest changing factor it was my softner, sticking to the Downy. And, color save bleach helped and at lowes they sell a tabet you can run through, the machine, yet this did little to remove the musty smell, so this must be a common accurance, if they started selling tablets for this problem. And my girlfriend said she returned hers because of this problem. I didn't realize this was a option. If it's a standard barrel try a cup of ammonia. Good luck.

i hate that smell!

my mother-in-law taught me this trick: ammonia! use your regular detergent, fabric softener but add a little ammonia to your wash cycle and your towels will smell fresh! i have a front loader so i put all the 'ingredients' into my soap cup before i start...depending on what type of washer you have will determine when to add it.

good luck!

J. b

I was told by my mother that the smell gets there from washing them and not drying them right away. Once the smell is there it's very hard to get rid of but once you do just make sure you dry them right away after washing them. If you think your not going to have time to put them into the dryer do not wash them yet. Same with wash cloths,dish rags exc do not use them (get them wet) and let them sit longer than a day or two. Once I found this info out I have not had any problems with yucky smells. Hope this helps you.

I wonder if all the soap is getting out in your rinse cycle.Try to rinse twice and hang them out on the line if you can.I love the smell of things that are air dried outside. Hope this helps

Baking soda in the wash will work. I also use baking soda and vinegar for added cleaning (in addition to your laundry soap of course).

Mine do that, too ESPECIALLY the kitchen towels! I wash them in the hottest water I can and add a scoop of Oxy-Magic made by Clorox. So far, it's worked like a charm. Bleach works the best, but I'd rather not use bleach on my green towels...LOL!

Good luck!
~L.

Along with the laundry soap for non-bleachables I add in 1 full cup of white vinegar. Works everytime.

This is very simple to eliminate- just add about a cup of white vinegar when you wash your towels and use hot water. An old time nurse gave me that advice when my first child was born and I haven't had stinky towels since. The towels will not smell like vinegar, either. I have given this advice to many people over the years and it works.
Just a note of caution-- chlorine bleach is a very potent low dose poison. Even the fumes can be harmful to children and affect their behavior. Also, most laundry detergents and dryer sheets are petroleum based and contain tons of nasty chemicals that are absorbed through the skin. If you have about 25 minutes, I will recommend to you a couple of short videos to watch online. "Toxic Brew" is a Canadian (CBC) report on household products---go to:
www.theglobalsuccessteam.net and click on upper right 'Toxic Brew" icon.
Another short clip is from Oprah's 2007 Earth Day show, www.therealdirtonclean.com password is 'clean'. I only use these products now and love them!
If you get a chance, these are really good videos. Let me know what you think of them.
M.

I have found the product Odorban gets the smells out of just about anything. You can spray it on carpets, use it in a spray bottle in the bathroom or garbage cans, and most importantly put a little in your laundry and smells are gone. It even takes out the smoke smells that grandpa brings with him. The only place I know to get it is Sam's Club. If anyone else knows another location please let me know.

how long are the towels staying in the washer before u dry them. This could be the problem. Have you tried the cloth softner or dryier sheets??

We had that problem until we purchased a front load. The frontloaders drain the water better so it's especially good if you leave your clothes in the washer for a while. Now I don't need to use bleach with everything and it saves on water and drying time! Good luck! :)

I used to have that problem a lot also. This is what I found that has worked for me. Febreeze (the fabric spray stuff) also makes an additive that you pour right into your wash. It can be a bit expensive (but less than rebuying towels all the time!) I also found that I can add a bit of clorine bleach to my colored towels and it helps the smell but does not take the color out. I hope this helps.
L.

Try using White Vinegar in your wash - about 1 cup with no soap. this usually removes the smell as well as any left over soap and other residue. Also - Make certain to get them very dry in the dryer before putting them away. Hanging them on the clothes line in the direct sun also helps. Good luck
G.

Try powder instead of liquid detergent, it worked for me. I do use liquid castile soap for my daughter's laundry and I don't get that with castile soap either. I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

I had that same problem, then I put about 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse (no fabric softener)cycle and it helped out alot.

My ex-boy friend used bleach in everything. It worked. He had a front loader so I don't know if that makes a difference. I've been hesitant to do it with colors. I have done so on several occasions ie. Towels, sheets and it worked well. Just put a little in your bleach dispenser and pray. That's better than repurchasing towels every month!
Good Luck :-)
C.

I use ALL small and mighty detergent and it's the only liquid soap that gets the smell out for me. Surf also works but I can only find that it powder lately and it doesn't break down in my washer well.

The only laundry detergent I use now is Tide with Febreeze. All of my laundry smells wonderful and I always buy a bunch of bottles when it goes on sale. The musty smell may also be from the fact that your stuff isn't getting dried all the way. You may want to check your dryer vent and lint screen to make sure everything is clean and clear. If you use dryer sheets instead of liquid fabric softner, a film can build up on the dryer screen and not allow good air flow. Also, run a wash cycle without any clothes to give your washer a good cleaning as well. Also, when washing towels, you may need to put just a few less in each wash load for better agitation and cleaning. Sure hope this helps!

Are you putting them into the dryer immediately after they're done washing? If they sit in the washer too long, they can get that smell.

Also, make sure they are thouroughly dry before folding them. If they're even a little damp, they'll get that smell.

I used to work in a hair salon and they owner didn't dry the towels enough and they would get that smell. Not good!

If either of these aren't the case, I haven't a clue why they may be doing it

Good luck!
P.

Have you tried Febreeze for laundry. It works great at getting the musty smell out.

I had that problem with my colored towels too. What I did was dry them thoroughly in the dryer and store them in a dresser drawer with a bounce sheet or potpourri sachet. But, I don't use them daily--only when we have company over. The towels smell great, plus they match the bathroom decor. I use the cheap thin white towels that you can buy at IKEA or target for daily use. They are cheaper to dry and I can bleach them as much as I want without worrying about cost.

MC

try putting some baking soda in the wash with the detergent. I use it to get the smell of urine out of nylon clothing(it really retains the smell). A quarter cup a load does wonders. You can pick it up in bulk at costco.

L.

Hello N., Do they stay in the washer or dryer for any lenghth of time? As soon as the washer is finished move them to the dryer and make sure that they are dried completly and not allowed to stay in the dryer damp. After showering, hang them to dry. I use a spring loaded tension shower curtain bar behind the regular shower bar. I hang the towels on this and can still close the shower curtain to hide it from company. Never put wet or damp cloths in a hamper or a pile. This promotes mildew. Hope this works for you. Good luck.

I have this same problem! I think certain colors are worse, I'm not sure why. We had black towels and they were terrible. Nothing got rid of it. Now we only use the Ivory ones, which I don't bleach, but they only get the smell occasionally. I use hot water and clorox 2, but I think the other person is right about getting them all the way dry. Our towels are thick, and take longer than one dryer cycle to dry all the way, so I have probably been skimping on the drying. Good luck...

Hi N.:
it has happened to me too. First of all when you wash towels are you immediataely drying them - this is important. If they sit for awhile in the washer they will stink. I believe its the chemicals with the laundry detergent as well. I have tried different detergents. I have used a natural one that my friend sells and really havent noticed it lately.

Use white vinegar in the fabric softner cycle....I recently had the same problem. I have a front loading washer and just had a tune-up & was told this by the repair guy to use vinegar. I've been doing it now for about a month and the problem is gone. Since I don't use fabric softner in the wash anymore I use a dryer sheet for added softness & scent.

Good luck!

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