Sunday, January 12

The Smelly Towel Solution

I don't know if it's because we live in the tropics or what, but our towels will often take a turn for the worse as far as smell is concerned. It's a smell that makes me feel like I never even took a shower. Instead, it smells like I just ran a few laps around the neighborhood at a sweater....while snacking on an onion.

The smell was becoming pretty unbearable and I was constantly having to wash all towels every week. Basically, each towel was used once and then thrown in the hamper due to the horrid smell that came from it as soon as it got just a little bit damp.

This was our life, that is, until I found out about a very quick and easy solution. Ever since I found this quick-fix, our towels have been restored to their original non-smelly quality. It was such a huge success, I wrote the solution down on a post-it note and stuck it above our washing machine. However, for the sake of keeping things pretty, I created the 4x6 card you see below. Feel free to print out and stick it somewhere near your washing machine.

This isn't a download. Simply click on the image and print to the size you prefer.

I really don't have to say much more since the card explains it all but I'll go ahead add a little commentary to each step.

1. Using vinegar, which contains an acetic acid, helps to break up water mineral deposits and dissolves build up. This is great because, over time, detergent and fabric softener will actually cause your towels to become "waterproof". This means that your towels aren't absorbing water like they once did, nor are they getting as clean while in the washing machine. Bacteria breeding grounds!

2. Baking soda, which contains an alkali-sodium bicarbonate, neutralizes odors and dissolves dirt and grease. This is why putting a box of baking soda in the fridge and cleaning the tough stains with a baking soda-water combo is such a great idea! It also works great when trying to kill the odors living in your towels.

3. Once you've done both of the steps using hot water, dry your towels and make sure they are COMPLETELY dry before folding and storing away in the closet. Putting away slightly dry towels will completely undo all that work (all 3 steps) you just did. Following these steps all the way through should leave you with towels that have been restored to their fresh life again.

You should not wash your towels with this method every single time it's time to do a load of towels. Put this solution to use whenever you start to notice the funky smell in your towels. The Mr. is usually on top of the smell check and lets me know when it needs to be done again. Needless to say, he's a big fan of this "smelly towel solution" as well.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if so, be sure to share it with others! 


  1. Great idea, and really cute instruction card! Our sheets sometimes get a little musty smell, so I'm definitely going to try this! Thanks so much for linking up at Thursday STYLE! I love seeing your projects every week :)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Angela! And thanks for hosting a great party :-)

  • You were right--you did link it up! Sorry for the confusion! Thanks for sharing this with our readers!

  • Do you put detergent in too or just the vinegar and then just the baking soda?

    1. Just vinegar and then baking soda! It completely takes away the musty, stinky smell without leaving behind any traces that I used vinegar. I also line-dry my clothes and towels because we don't have a dryer, so the extra sunshine might help too. Even so, I sniffed the towels right after I took them out of the washing machine and they had no smell whatsoever (which is what I wanted)!

    2. Thanks! I wish I could hang my towels out to dry but it's like -20 here! They smell good out of the washer and even the dryer but when they get used they smell again. I hope this works so I don't have to get new towels!

  • I have a front load washing machine. I assume I would put the vinegar into the liquid detergent dispenser, but do you know how to add the baking soda? Pour it straight into the drum with the towels?

    1. I had the same Q as Alex...if you use a front loader or a top loader? The front loaders use significantly less water, so the vinegar and baking soda would both be pretty concentrated. I would guess that I'd add the baking soda just like I would powdered detergent. But I am wondering about the amounts...thanks!

    2. Hi ladies! Great questions! I use a top loader but I've used a front loader in the past. My top loader had a detergent dispenser that held powdered detergent so I would just put my baking soda in there. It's also completely fine to toss the baking soda directly into the drum.

      As far as the measurements for front loaders, I would think that it'd still be ok to keep it the same (since the baking soda is intended to kill odors, including the concentrated smell of the vinegar). However, if you can't fit this amount into the dispensers, you might consider cutting the measurements of this solution in half, making sure to keep the ratio the same.

      Hope that helps! I'd love for y'all to let me know how it turns out so I can better inform others. :-)


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