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How to Get Odor Out of Towels

Fresh-from-the-dryer towels should smell clean, not musty. If lingering odors have you holding your nose, learn how to eliminate that nasty stench.


  • Step 1: Separate towels Separate your towels according to their odor level. Check the truly stinky ones for obvious stains and pre-treat them with laundry detergent. Select the hot water cycle on your machine and loosely fill the the machine with towels.
  • Step 2: Add cleaning products Add laundry detergent, along with a cup of white vinegar. Let the washer agitate for a few minutes and then turn off the machine. Allow the towels to soak for at least an hour.
  • Step 3: Use alternate cleaning agents Add equal parts borax and baking soda or a few tablespoons of bleach -- even for dark towels -- to the washing machine. Allow the towels to soak in the mixture for at least an hour before completing the wash cycle.
  • Step 4: Remove towels quickly Remove your towels from the washer and get them into the dryer as soon as the wash cycle is finished. Keeping towels in a damp washing machine for too long allows mold and bacteria to grow, which can cause those funky odors.
  • TIP: Consider drying your towels outside on a clothesline for fresh, clean-smelling fabrics.
  • Step 5: Dry on high heat Select the highest heat setting on your dryer to avoid potential mold and bacteria growth. Be sure you don't overload the dryer, and make sure the towels are completely dry before removing them. Then take a big whiff of your clean, fresh towels.
  • FACT: The Terrible Towel, a fan symbol for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was introduced in 1975 by Pittsburgh broadcaster Myron Cope.

You Will Need

  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • Borax
  • Liquid chlorine bleach
  • Dryer
  • Clothesline (optional)

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