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How To Wash Towels

Are your towels stinky? And we mean is the mustiness so strong that your towels smell bad after washing? If that’s the case, you may need a refresher course on how to wash towels. 

Towels become pungent any time of year, but the summer humidity in many regions of the United States can cause both bath and beach towels to mildew more quickly. If that’s happening to you, have no fear. The following tips will show you how to wash towels correctly — and care for them, too — so you can avoid having them sour. 

Hang 'em High and Dry

If you want to ensure your towels smell after washing, then by all means toss them in a hamper or let them sit bunched up on your bedroom floor after you’ve dried your hair or toweled off. A balled-up towel won’t dry properly, meaning its more prone to developing mildew. To keep your towels fresher, hang them flat after each use. 

Ramp Up Laundry Day Frequency

There’s no shame in using a bath or beach towel more than once. However, you may want to drop those suckers in the laundry a little more often in the summertime. For one, you’re probably using the towels a lot more during this time of year, especially if you exercise outdoors or enjoy working in the garden. That means your towels get less of a chance to dry. Toss in that heat and humidity, and you’ve got a recipe for a stinky disaster. A good rule of thumb is to throw a towel in the washer after three uses.

Make Sure You Have a Clean Machine

Just like dishwashers and other regularly used housekeeping appliances, your washing machine needs a good cleaning every now and then. Fortunately, washing the washer is pretty easy, as the appliance does most of the work for you. Note:Before cleaning the washer using the method below, check your manufacturer’s instructions. Every brand and model is different, and you don’t want to void your warranty or damage your machine by using products that are advised against. 

You’ll need: 

One quart of distilled white vinegar

  1. Select the largest load and longest wash from your washer’s settings. You also want to choose the hottest water setting.
  2. Pour the vinegar in the washer as the water fills.
  3. Close the lid and let a full cycle run.
  4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 if you like.
  5. Once the cycle has finished, wipe down the inside of the machine with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any vinegar residue.
Bonus tip: If you leave your washer lid open after use, air can circulate more freely which allows the basin to dry quicker. This could reduce favorable conditions for mildew.

Make Sure You know How to Wash Towels

It’s possible you’ve been washing towels — and clothes — incorrectly this whole time. That’s OK! There’s no time like the present to remedy that error. Here are the basics: 
  • Wash towels only with towels.
  • Choose the warmest wash setting that your towels’ care tags allow.
  • Clean towels with detergent and a splash of distilled white vinegar. (Note: Never mix vinegar and bleach, as this combination creates a dangerous chemical reaction.)
  • Put them in the dryer immediately after the wash cycle ends.
  • Shake each towel out on the way from the washer to the dryer.
  • Dry towels on the hottest setting that’s approved by the care tags. Alternatively, you can dry them outdoors if it’s a warm, clear day and you have a clothesline. (Some people say air-drying towels makes them smell fresher.)
  • Make sure towels are completely dry before removing them from the dryer. At the same time, don’t over dry them, as this can shorten a towel’s lifespan.

And now you have the scoop on how to wash those musty, sour-smelling towels! 

Need more help to keep your summer smelling sweet? Check out this summer cleaning checklist and then learn how to get rid of cooking smells.