Pinterest Tested: Cleaning Stinky Towels

Welcome to Pinterest Tested! Ever wonder if that miracle cleaner is really miraculous? Or what about that homemade facial cleanser or delicious-looking recipe? The Craft Patch is the place to find out! I am testing Pins that catch my eye to see if they really live up to the claims made on Pinterest. It’s like the Mythbusters of Domesticity!

Let me just begin by saying that I loathe stinky towels. Nothing is worse than smelling fresh and clean after a shower and then having to wipe off on a towel that smells like moldy funk! Ick! Or using a kitchen rag to wipe down the counters and realizing that it smells like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Gag!
So of course when I saw THIS PIN from My Thirty Spot on Pinterest, I was very excited to test it out.
I followed the instructions:
1. Wash towels in hot water with one cup vinegar (no detergent).
2. Wash towels again in hot water with a half cup of baking soda (no detergent).
3. Dry completely in the dryer with no dryer sheet.

I couldn’t wait for them to be dry so I could give them a big, fat sniff test. After drying, they smelled like nothing. That’s a big improvement from smelling like an old basement. So I kept investigating. The next morning I used them to shower…
Smelling pretty good! I have used the towels for four days now and they are only just now starting to smell a little bit funky. Four days! That’s pretty good! I will definitely be washing them this way from now on.
The verdict?
Update: I found something that I like even better for keeping my towels fresh. Read about it HERE!

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  1. Without the dryer sheet, were the towels staticky? Mine usually are if I don't use a dryer sheet. Any suggestions on the static? I'm definitely gonna try this…

  2. I hate stinky towels so much that I always buy white towels and I put bleach in every time I wash them. I have yet to find a colored towel at anyone's house that doesn't smell at least a little funky. The bleach may make the towels wear out a little faster, but the trade-off is worth it to me.

  3. I saw this on KSL. It said to use detergent but use the vinegar in the place of fabric softener the first time. Then use baking soda instead of detergent the second time. Then instead of using dryer sheets to use 2 new tennis balls. The tennis balls are supposed to help with static and make them fluffy.

  4. I tried this and it didn't work at all. Towels still stunk! So I headed to the laundry aisle at Walmart to see what else I could try. I ended up using detergent, Clorox 2 and a half cup of Borax. Worked great!! Not sure if it was the clorox 2 or borax that did the trick, but towels didn't stink at all!

  5. A previous commenter is right that you should not use fabric softener on towels. Softener wraps itself around the fibers of the fabric and repels liquids. Kind of the opposite of what a towel is for. Vinegar is a natural softener, so it's a good idea to put a cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle often, or fill a downy ball full of vinegar and throw it in with your wash. It should not static, either.

  6. Definitely don't use fabric softener on towels. They might be fluffy but they'll be totally useless.

    We dry our towels and sheets outside. They smell like sunshine and fresh air every time. And no static either.

  7. I wash my cloth diapers with vinegar so I am sure it is similar. I use soap in cold water and then hot water with vinegar. 2 or 3 times a year I use blue dawn in hot water to strip them of buildup. I would suggest if the above didn't work for you, try washing them with dawn to strip them.

  8. I used to have an issue with the towels in my home having that awful smell. I now wash my towels in hot water with regular detergent and a cup of vinegar. I do not have an issue with them beginning to stink no matter how long they stay on the towel bar.

    A suggestion to prevent them from smelling: make sure they get an opportunity to completely dry while hanging in the bathroom. If they stay damp it gives bacteria a chance to grow!

  9. I always hang my towels to dry immediately after drying off, and they never smell. My husband and I used our towels for three weeks one time just to see if they would smell and they never did. I also use a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer instead of softener sheets. I saw the idea in Pinterest and it works great!

  10. I use these ingredients and love it- I do not wash my towels twice…
    I put the baking soda in with the towels. I put my normal laundry detergent in then I put vinegar up to the fill line in the bleach section. I also put vinegar in the fabric softener section as well- and wash in hot water. Haven't had a problem with a stinky or sour towel since!

  11. I was curious about this post, as I never had a smelly towel in my house or my mother's. They can never be folded while wet or humid. Towels need to be always wide open to dry after showers, hand washing, etc. Maybe this is the culprit? Whenever possible, I like to put my towels to dry in the sun after a shower. On winter time I open one of those folding driers in front of a sunny window and hand my towels there. Maybe this will help?

  12. Another thing I remember, towels need to be well rinsed after washing. So, use little laundry soap, a bit of fabric softener and do an extra rinse. This is something I do with all my clothes anyway. Always an extended rinse. I noticed those WE washers try to save water by not washing clothes properly. So at least add an extra rinse to your loads. It is important not to have a trace of soap at the end. The residue soap is what makes things stinky.


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