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Towels are one of those things we think very little about, but when they start to lose absorbency and become stinky towels, it can be really annoying.

Lately I had been noticing that my freshly washed towels were starting to really stink when wet- I thought I was gonna have to throw them out and buy new.


If you are like many people and use the recommended amount of laundry soap and/or fabric softener (which is way more than you need) you are setting yourself up for towels that lose will their absorbency and can even eventually begin to stink.

Stinky towels are not a result of under washing them, it’s a result of soap residue left in the towel.

When your towels seem to get a nasty smell immediately upon getting wet again, that doesn’t dry completely- it’s soap residue that’s usually the cause.

So when it comes to washing towels – keep in mind less is more.

How to really get rid of that stinky towel smell - without having to throw them out!

Towel image via Shutterstock

This is the Stinky Towel remedy that I find works AMAZING!!

  • Run your towels through two hot loads and DO NOT use any detergent.
  • Run the load again with hot water and 1 cup vinegar.
  • Run the load again with hot water and half cup baking soda.

This method strips all the soap and fabric softener residue off the towels leaving them fresh and super absorbent.

(You can add 2 drops of doTERRA purify or On Guard essential oil to the last load if you like).

I like to use dryer balls instead of fabric sheets – it requires less drying time, extends the life of clothing/towels and they save money too!


You may also like these awesome menu planning tips that save your sanity (and your pocketbook!)

Do you menu plan your family meals? Is it easy for you? Here are 4 tips for Meal Planning and a tip to save you money at the grocery store each week!

image via Shutterstock

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Heidi Fletcher

Friday 26th of July 2019

So how do you wash the towels AFTER doing all of this? Just use even less soap? (I don't use much anymore, and my "fabric softener" is vinegar and baking soda on a separate cycle.)

Jody @ Mommy Moment

Wednesday 31st of July 2019

Yup, less soap - and I add vinegar to each load - no fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Debbie White Beattie

Friday 1st of December 2017

I didn't know you could fix the problem so easily but it totally makes sense because that's what they used before all of the other soaps were available

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Saturday 7th of January 2017

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Sunday 26th of June 2016

Just pour a couple of cups white vinegar onto bath towels/washcloths/kitchen towels/dishcloths in washer with water to cover and let soak overnight. Then run on rinse cycle, dry as usual. Stink is caused by alkalinity. Vinegar is a weak acid which neutralizes it. Use only about HALF the detergent stated on your detergent jug/package!! More is NOT needed.


Thursday 3rd of March 2016

Don't use fabric softener on towels! Fabric softener coats the towel fibers with a waxy layer, making towels less absorbent and locking in odors.

Jody @ Mommy Moment

Thursday 3rd of March 2016

I completely agree!