Are you wondering how to get mildew smell out of towels? You’re not alone. Musty, moldy, sour, stinking (you pick the description!) towels are not a pleasant scent for anyone to have to deal with. It’s time to take care of your towels and get them smelling as fresh and clean as possible.
If your laundry skills are anything like mine, you’ve probably spent a little bit of time Googling how to remove mildew smell from towels. You might even feel as though the smell might never go away! But, that’s not the case at all. With a little bit of knowledge and elbow grease, this article will help you to get your towels smelling fresh in no time.
What Causes The Musty Smell In Towels?
This is the million-dollar question, right? If you’ve noticed that your towels have a bit of a funk even fresh from the laundry, these causes are more than likely the culprit.
- Leaving in the wash too long before drying. We’ve all been there! We put a load of towels in the wash and forget to do anything with it. Call it “mom brain” or whatever you want, but this is probably one of the most common reasons for having towels that smell musty or stale. Drying them later doesn’t help. I’ve tried! 😇
- Not getting them fully dry. I’m not the best with patience…so if you tend to pull your towels too quickly from the dryer, you’re running the risk of having them smell like mildew. It doesn’t matter if you fold them nice or leave them in a pile on the bed. If they are damp, they will become stale and musty.
- Putting them in the hamper wet. I feel like this is what happens when kids (or husbands) are told to put their towels in the hamper! Balling them up and just throwing them in the hamper will cause them to stink in no time at all. Let them hang in the bathroom until they are fully dry before adding them to the laundry basket.
- Live in a humid environment. Sometimes Mother Nature has a mind of her own and takes over. There’s little that you can do in this situation but keep your towels hung up, dry, and separated.
- The washing machine may need cleaning. If none of the following tips gets rid of the mildew smell on your towels, the issue might be with your washing machine. Giving it a good cleaning just might be exactly what it needs. I found this especially true with front loading washers.
Things To Never Do
- Don’t use essential oils. While they may smell wonderful, it only covers up the scent of the mildew and makes it harder for you to tell if there is an actual problem or not. It is much better to keep the towels smelly fresh and clean, naturally.
- I try to steer away from using dryer sheets or dryer balls. Like essential oils, the scented varieties may temporarily cover up the musty smell.
How To Prevent Mildew Smell In Towels
I’ll show you how to correct the smell below, but let’s talk about ways to prevent your towels from mildewing.
- Hang up towels to dry. Don’t ball them up or leave them on the floor. They need air and space to dry completely.
- Never use fabric softeners with towels. They become less absorbent and leave a film that makes it hard for good airflow and natural drying.
- Always measure the amount of detergent you’re using. Front-loading washers are sensitive to too much detergent and using too much may leave a residue on your towels. This is a case where more is not better.
Try Natural Laundry Soaps
I prefer to use natural laundry soaps. These typically don’t have harsh chemicals and are much better for you and your clothes. Don’t think that the mainstream chemical-laden laundry detergents are better. These will help remove the musty smell without the risks.
How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Towels
Washing Towels With Vinegar And Hot Water
- Pour half a cup of white distilled vinegar in the washing machine.
- Use the antibacterial or sanitary button on your washer if you have it (the hottest water possible). This should knock out that mildew scent in just one try.
- Repeat with another half cup of vinegar for REALLY smelly towels.
Baking Soda And Hot Water
- Add half a cup of baking soda to the washing machine. Baking Soda is a natural deodorizer.
- Use the antibacterial or sanitary button on your washer if you have it (the hottest water possible).
- Repeat these steps as necessary.
Soak In A Bucket With Water And OxiClean
- If the previous two options didn’t work and you don't want to try again in your washing machine, just grab a bucket and add in some OxiClean and water.
- Add the towel and let it soak for an hour or two.
- Remove the towel from the OxiClean and wash using hot water.
Dry Them On The Clothesline To Get Fresh Air
- Sometimes all you need is a little fresh air. This is the best way to get rid of that scent, and also save some money on your electricity bill as well.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that you can remove the mildew smell from your towels. Make certain to find the way that works best for you.
Do you have any tips for how to remove the musty mildew smell from towels? Please leave a comment below.