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Mildew Smelling Towels

Forgive me for asking two questions, but they are both important to me. If you have advice on getting my toddler away from the TV, please leave me a comment on my other post.

Wait! Don’t leave yet! I need your advice on my towels.

We use our bath towels two- three times before washing them, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the problem since we have the problem with our hand towels and I noticed it in my cloth wipes.

The problem is once they get wet, they smell like mildew. So we dry our hands on our hand towel, and the next time we use it both our hands and the towel smell like mildew.

The bath towels are the same thing.

And tonight I used one of my cloth wipes on my hands and my hands smelled like Mildew.

I use bleach, laundry detergent and fabric softener on the towels, what more can I do. Does anyone have any ideas? is it my water? my towels? I thought it was my towels until I noticed it on the wipes and they are new.

Please Help me! Then go to Rocks in My Dryer and share your wisdom on other topics too!

Comments

Comment from Kacie
Time November 7, 2007 at 1:30 am

Maybe add a cup of vinegar to the wash.

Are they getting completely dry in the dryer? If they are even a little damp, maybe that could cause it.

Do they smell like mildew when you first hang them? Maybe your house is somewhat humid (that’s usually a good thing, especially in winter!)

I hope someone will have a helpful solution for you. Let us know if anything works!

Comment from Nikki
Time November 7, 2007 at 3:57 am

We have the same problem where we live. I’ve found that I get the best results if I don’t add any softener to the wash, and dry them outside in the sun – not in the dryer. The sun kills all the little nasties that like to breed in damp towelling! Softener also ruins your towels. If you skip the softener, you’ll fund them a bit ‘crunchier’, but they dry better, and don’t smell as much! Works for me!

Comment from infinitygoods.com
Time November 7, 2007 at 4:06 am

Make you they are completely dry when you take them out of the dryer. Then if your house is humid in the winter, you might need to put them in the dryer after each use instead of letting them dry on the towel bar. Make sure they are not bunched up when they are on the towel bar too. That’s all I can think of.

Comment from Beckie
Time November 7, 2007 at 8:05 am

Stop using fabric softener. I know you hate the line dried feel but the fabric softener will keep them from not only absorbing water but also drying completely. You may want to put the towels in with the bleach and let them soak for 15 min or so then add your detergent and run the load .
Also use HOT water. For your wipes you may want to do a basin with a small amount of bleach and soap mixture and drop the wipes in as soon as you use them. Then just dump the whole thing in the washer. If you are leaving the wipes and towels folded or not lying flat to dry, they will mildew much quicker.

Comment from Karen in Iowa
Time November 7, 2007 at 8:46 am

I agree with not using fabric softener. I also use borax (20 Muleteem) with the detergent and this seems to help.

Comment from Howdy
Time November 7, 2007 at 10:03 am

I know where you are at as this happened to me a couple years ago. My daughter took out a load (a really large load) of towels that weren’t quite completely dry and left them in a laundry basket where they dried and were later folded and put away. You would not have known anything was wrong until you used one to dry your wet hands, face or body… then the smell hit you. I was ready to throw them all out it was that bad. But here is what I’ve done to salvage my towels… and later a load of clothes (I have a very impatient daughter who apparently thinks her laundry is the only important stuff in the basement).

Take your towels and fill the washer with them, HOT WATER, what ever detergent you use, AND about 2 cups of BAKING SODA. Let the washer fill and agitate for a few minutes to make sure everything is mixed well – then TURN IT OFF and leave it soaking for an hour or two. Make sure you are using the longest wash cycle with the most amount of agitation possible if you can adjust those things. When it has finished the complete wash, rinse, spin cycles – restart and run it completely through again with just hot water (as you want to make sure you wash out all the baking soda). Then run them through the dryer – high heat and make sure they are DRY, DRY, DRY before taking them out.

I never use fabric softener liquid or sheets on any towels. I don’t want my towels to be fluffy soft – I want them to be absorbent.

Good Luck – I know this can be frustrating!

Comment from silver
Time November 7, 2007 at 10:20 am

Your towels have detergent and fabric softener buildup on them. To get rid of this, wash once with a small amount of liquid dish soap (and nothing else), then wash a few times in hot water and *nothing* added (no bleach, no detergent, no fabric softener, nothing). Once you get all that buildup out, your towels will be fluffier, too!

To keep it from coming back, skip the fabric softener (it makes the towels less absorbent anyway). Dry in the dryer on hot (if you hang them to dry, they’ll get crunchy).

Every once in a while, I wash my towels with no detergent and it’s always amazing how many suds are created.

Comment from Amber
Time November 7, 2007 at 10:42 am

I use borax in my wash with them, it seems to help. I have the same problem with my towels.

Comment from Homeschool Help Web
Time November 7, 2007 at 10:45 am

Yep, baking soda. It takes out all manner of evil smells. I think I’d go with Silver’s ideas first, then soak them in baking soda.

Comment from Jess
Time November 7, 2007 at 10:54 am

I’ve noticed that if I replace my fabric softener with vinegar, it makes a big difference. I do this for all my clothes now. So, maybe do the baking soda trick to get them good and clean smelling and then just keep up with the vinegar?

Comment from Lisa
Time November 7, 2007 at 11:00 am

Try 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water. Dry on the line if possible. If it’s bad you may need to re-rinse a few times, but it should then be under control.

Comment from Connie Jardim
Time November 7, 2007 at 11:31 am

I use hot water and add borax to the wash to keep my towels from smelling after one use.

Comment from Kathleen Marie
Time November 7, 2007 at 11:58 am

Vinegar should do the trick. Baking soda as well. I think fabric softener helps as well as it gives them a nice odor. If that doesn’t work you should check for mold in your bathroom. Sometimes it can grow in the walls and be unhealthy. Make sure your bathrooms are well ventilated. Hugs!

Comment from LeeAnn
Time November 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Cool! I have had a similar problem! I have also found a dehumidifier in the bathroom helps a great deal!

Comment from laughterthoughts
Time November 7, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Hotter water, a tad more soap, a little baking soda, no liquid fabric softener (I will sometimes use a 1/2 -sheet in the dryer). And make sure they rinse well and dry well. Line-drying is good, but that is limited by season and weather… and space!

Comment from Veggiemomof2
Time November 7, 2007 at 2:36 pm

I started using vinegar as fabric softener cuz DS & I are allergic to pretty much everything else. After about 2 weeks, I noticed my towels were softer because the soap residue had been stripped out of them. I can line-dry jeans now & they don’t stand up on their own anymore!

Comment from Courtney
Time November 7, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Living in Hawaii, we have had this problem as well.

Solution – HOT HOT wash water (the first time, put the towels in the wash and run a hot wash with no detergent at all, then run another hot wash with detergent and a cup of plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle.)

I don’t “do” line drying – I like my towels to be soft, and I won’t give that up for anything! ;) Dry them on your dryer on the hottest setting with a dryer sheet and they should be fine. And make sure they are all the way dry when they come out.

Comment from s g
Time November 7, 2007 at 4:06 pm

vinegar works!

Comment from chickadee
Time November 7, 2007 at 4:20 pm

you got some great responses here. i was wondering too because i’ve had this problem. i started using the arm and hammer detergent and that seemed to help.

Comment from Kristin
Time November 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

I had this problem a few years ago and at the suggestion of a friend, I started washing towels in hot-hot water. I agree that the towels must be dry-dry before you get them out of the dryer. I will try the vinegar or Borax as well.

Comment from Reformed Grits
Time November 7, 2007 at 4:58 pm

One more suggestion…. HOT water and Oxyclean. Let them rotate the cycle, then let it sit for an hour or so.
I also agree with making sure they are REALLY dry before putting them up.
Hope you have better success!

Comment from Kaci
Time November 7, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Another suggestion that I didn’t see anyone else mention – take them out of the washer and put them in the dryer immediately when the washer stops. I have this problem if I forget about them and don’t move them to the dryer fast enough.

Comment from T with Honey
Time November 7, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Quite a few other people suggested it but I’m gonna mention it again. Baking soda in the washer. I used to have the same problem with my towels but a month ago I stumbled across the answer.

I heard that adding 1/2 cup of baking soda in the washing machine with your detergent will do the same job as fabric softener. I’m allergic to most fragrances used in fabric softener so I was stuck using Downy Free or none at all. I’m all about trying new ways to cut expenses so I tried the baking soda.
Not only does it work as a replacement for fabric softener but my towels, and the rest of my laundry smells fresh again. No more musty towels. No more of Honey’s running socks and soccer gear not quite losing that locker room smell. And it is a bit more septic tank friendly than the ole Downy free.

Comment from Annette Edenfield
Time April 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm

There is an awesome product that is finally being offered outside of commercial sales. The product has been used in the hospital in St. Thomas Virgin Islands for years., where you can imagine mildew is an issue. The product name is Sanifast and can be bought at Sanifast.com. I would not have believed it except I left a load of laundry in the washer while I travelled for 2 weeks. On my return I opened the washer and grindged at the thought of the smell. First there was no odor and then when I began to pull the towels out there was no mold or odor. I have always told the manufacturer / CEO he should sell this to bachelors. I highly recommend trying this product. It has a lot of other outstanding qualities you can read about.
Annette

Comment from exponent
Time May 17, 2008 at 3:41 pm

This is how to get mold and mildew out of clothes and how to get the smell of mildew out of clothes. SmellyWasher Cleaner is a completely organic powder that is used to clear fungus from any clothes washer. The cleaner is used by adding a small amount (1 tablespoon normally suffices) to a hot setting in your washer and allowing it to complete the cycle.
In order to remove fungus from towels and clothing use just one teaspoon of cleaner instead of detergent. Rinse and dry as normal. This product is super simple and works great! I found it at http://www.smellytowel.com

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