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!