Smelly Towels


We have cotton towels that have developed a terrrible mildew smell, regardless of how clean they are. This is frustrating, because you come clean out of the shower and walk away dry and smelling like mildew. I suspect that if all our laundry was that thick, it might have the smell as well. I suspect that it is related to our water softener, which I am sure is having problems. We do not have well water. The water softener makes a horrendous noise when it is done doing whatever the heck it does, it sounds like it is knocking or shuddering to a stop. After it runs, the water flow from all faucets sputters and hisses until all the excess air is out of the lines for a minute or so. My wife thinks that the washing machine water, (which pours its excess water into a verticle pipe that is connected to the waste pipe and usually overflows ) is the problem, that perhaps it is backing up into the laundry. I disagree, because the laundry doesn't smell like that. I really don't care who's right, I just want to get rid of the smell. I know a lot of this could be solved by a plumber, but we can't afford that right now. HELP!
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On Sun, 19 Aug 2007 10:28:24 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I suspect your towels aren't completely dry before you fold and store them. Damp towels will develop that smell.
Nan
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wrote:

Yep. Nan's right. Unless they smell that way before you dry them. If that's the case, run out and buy some cheap smelly toss in the dryer fabric softeners to cover up the smell. Then start saving up to pay a plumber.
peggo
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zoegraceli18 wrote:

To rid these particular towels of the smell, you might try laying or hanging them out in the full sun for a few hours after the next wash. You wouldn't have to do this every time, just a time or two to get the smell out.
And then to prevent the reoccurrence of the smell, consider the following:
You might be putting too large a load in the dryer at one time. (Also make sure your washer load is not too crowded so that they can get really clean.)
It is really possible that the towels were taken out of the dryer before they were completely dry---or you might have left the finished load in the dryer for a while without realizing that although most of the items were dry, the towels weren't. Ditto if you unloaded the dryer into a laundry basket not realizing that the towels really weren't quite dry.
And also---if you dry towels in a low temperature, this might keep the current mildew smell from being removed and even make the current smell worse. Better to routinely dry towels in a separate load at a higher temperature, not in a mixed load with lighter weight clothes.
I found some links that deal with this more in depth and with other ideas using bleach, vinegar, etc.: http://www.recipelink.com/mf/24/559 http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/hesguide/housing/gh5928.htm http://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Mildew-Smell-from-Towels http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/256861/how_to_prevent_and_remove_mildew_in.html
I found these links by Googling the following phrase: removing mildew from towels I'm sure there are plenty more websites that deal with this.
Good luck-----you can fix this!
Donna
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Misery likes company. We have the same problem. All of the replies you received nothwithstanding, we cannot get rid of the odor either. We have done the high heat to no avail; I know the towels are dry .. not damp .. when folded. We've done the sun bit. It is less noticeable on "newer" towels, so we have been getting rid of the older ones.
But today, over a relatives house, I noticed the odor on some wash towels and mentioned it. And she is on public water without softener system while I am on a well with a softener.

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it's a common problem & it happens due to towels being unable to dry out _properly_ after being used so often (as towels are). it doesn't have anything to do with being washed or not. if a towel is constantly dampish & doesn't get sun on it, it will smell, & that's all there is to it, really. (so will any other kind of fabric).
at our last house (shady bathroom) we had the problem all the time - i used to hang them in the sun between washings, just to make sure they dried out. now we have a sunny bathroom & the problem just doesn't exist any more, no effort on my part.

tea towels can have the same problem. things which get wet all the time need to hang in the sun. (that's what clotheslines are for.) trying to cover the smell is never going to work; it's a bacterial &/or fungal problem due to dampness. kylie
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Except in areas where clotheslines aren't practical or permitted, you're right about constant dampness. I don't have the issue during the winter when the forced-air heat dries the bathroom quickly. In the summer I keep an oscillating fan in the bathroom and it helps quite a bit.
Nan
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This has nothing to do with water, and everything to do with the warm, damp conditions in which mildew thrives. Once the smell is in clothes or towels, the fastest way to kill it is to use bleach. Not a problem with white towels and laundry, but more problematic with colors. Do your best to keep it from developing to begin with by drying completely and quickly, but if it does develop, do the following and you will no longer have the smell. Fill your washer with cold water, detergent and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach and let it agitate to mix before adding the towels/clothes. (Use the smaller amount first to see if it will do the trick for you). I have had lightening in some really dark (red) towels, but for the most part, even blue jeans can be treated this way if need be. Guarantee it works! chipper

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borax in the wash vinegar in the rinse dry thoroughly
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