Cleaning Stinky Towels The Better Way

A while back I tested a way to keep  your towels from getting stinky. You can read about it HERE. It has been working okay, but I don’t like having to wash the towels twice. I was talking to my mom about it and she said, “Well, haven’t you just been washing them with Lysol?” Hello! That is the secret to my mom’s always-fresh laundry. Seriously. I have visited her many times and never had a sour towel…including kitchen washcloths. The secret to good-smelling laundry has been right under my nose all this time!

And it’s so easy. You just load the washer with all your towels, add your normal soap, then put in about 1/4 cup of Lysol. Not Lysol with bleach obviously, or you will end up with off-colored towels. I use the lavender scent…it smells great! Run the cycle on the hottest setting and then dry without a dryer sheet. I am so much happier using this method! I like knowing that 99% of the stinky germs have been killed when I wash my towels this way. I think it prevents the gross stuff from ever growing and eliminates ever having stinky towels again. Hurray!


  1. I've used this method for years. The bonus is that if you forget to add the lysol every once-in-a-while, the towels will still smell good. The effect lasts for more than one washing.

  2. My towels have not smelled since my husband taught me to hang up all towels until they dry, even if they are destined for the wash. Every towel gets hung up over the shower bar, on a towel rack or hanging over the rim of a hamper until its dry. Once its dry, they go in the dirty laundry. No more stinky towels, no more double washing or adding Lysol or bleach.

  3. I don't understand why a towel should "stink" after being washed. Mine have never had an odor after being washed, I agree with Beth F I always hang my towels to dry completely before putting in the laundry basket for laundry day. Interesting post but no sure why it is needed.

    • Really? Your towels don't stink? I bet nothing else of yours does, either. FYI, some washers accumulate mildew in the inner parts, thus anointing one's towels with the scent of said mildew. Even with my OCD cleaning and leaving my washer open after all completed loads, I opened my washer mid-cycle to the horrid smell of mildew. I appreciate this article appearing on my google search for "how much Lysol to add to a load of laundry.".

  4. I need to try this! Now, we usually use our towels over again for a few more days, (clean body, clean towel) so I would assume those that wash theirs every time it's used may not get as smelly. Hanging them up prior to washing is probably a good idea too!

  5. I have some concerns about this method! Though it sounds great, the reality of wiping my body with toxic chemicals is frightening! Not to mention what it's doing to the water supply! I find it irresponsible and dangerous!

  6. eh, it's probably not any more dangerous than the soap most of us are washing with. Speaking of…. I had a load of towels today that stank…because I had washed them, then forgot about them and they sat in the washing machine and got gross. SO… I rewashed them using a tide pod, some cheap fabric softner in the downy ball, and some of those SCENT enhancers (like downy's unstoppables…. or gain makes some too…) and guess what? NO stink. The product works really well on my hubby's work clothes too… he works in roofing so his clothes get really stinky.

    • I feel the same way as the previous commenter. I don't mind using Lysol at all. There are way worse things for your health than a minuscule trace of Lysol on a towel…the mildew hiding in the towel might just be one of them.

      Grey-san, if you are concerned about using Lysol, what would you suggest using instead?

  7. Lysol's active ingredient is very caustic. Using even a very diluted capful for cleaning is harmful to people and animals, the large amount your using is very dangerous. Don't get me wrong I hate funky towels too and used too clean my home with Lysol but it's a slow death and dangerous to have that chemical residue being spread on you're body when your pores are the most open for absorption of anything. You should research the ingredient and it's dangers before making a choice to use toxic ingredients for personal safety. I have found that using vinegar abt. quartercup in addition to journal detergent in any load cleans and deodorizes but most importantly to dry towels after using them and not letting them sit in the washing machine after cycle has ended. If they are really funky smelling baking soda plus the regular vinegar detergent mixture kicks stinks butt plus actually removes chemical residues that might be building up.

  8. Oh, this has been so awesome! I was starting to wonder if I just had to buy new towels every couple of years, and I was not happy thinking about the expense! I actually just found Lysol concentrate on sale, so it will take up less room in my soap cupboard and I'll only need to dribble a little into each towel load. I agree that you don't have to wash with the Lysol every time. This trick has made me sooo happy! 🙂

  9. My 14 y.o. son left his already stinky soccer clothes,socks and jeans in our front load washing machine for 3 days. Ugh. I ran a cleaning cycle in the washer, used a front-load drum cleaner, then re-washed the load using Downy Unstoppables booster: still stinky. Didn't dry the load; instead, re-washed with vinegar and baking doda method. Still stinky. Dried them anyway. MY QUESTION: could I use the Lysol on his clothes? Has anyone else tried Lysol on a load of clothes?

    • I have never had my towels run… and I wash navy blue towels with striped towels, etc. Maybe the first time you wash them they might. If you are worried, try lifting up the lid once they have been in the water for a while and see if the water has any dye in it. Then you'll know if the color runs.

  10. I was on the swim team when I was in high school, and I had a bad habit of leaving wet towels and suits on the floor of my room (and lots of other places I'm sure). I found that spraying the carpet with lysol spray–the aerosol, deodorizing kind–removed the mildewy odor from carpet. That stuff is amazing. I even sprayed my brother with it once.

  11. I tried the vinegar, baking soda way & had no luck, but then I tried washing with ammonia and it works great. Just fill the washer, add 1 cup of ammonia (for a full load), and let it sit for an hour (closed) before adding soap and washing like normal. The stink is gone!

  12. I will be trying this! I try to avoid chemicals when I can, but I've tried the vinegar/baking soda trick many times, and it hasn't worked. Plus I hate having to wash twice and waste all the water and electricity.

  13. I’m in a pinch to disinfect my towels. I only have spray lysol (for soft surfaces too). Do you think if i spray that on my towels long enough to disinfect, then wash with detergent, that will do the trick?


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