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"Sour" washcloths -- how to clean/remove odor?


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#1 alisoncooks

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:22 AM

No matter how I wash our towels & washcloths, they seem to have this lingering, mildew-y odor (a sour odor). I have tried washing them all in hot water with bleach .... and I don't think it has helped much. I'm sure it's because they were forgotten in the wash one day and the whole load got stinky...

I read somewhere online that if this is the case, it's a mildew in the fabric and you should toss out all your washcloths/towels and just buy new ones. :eek:

I'm hoping to avoid that. Anyone have any secrets/tricks that gets rid of that smell?

#2 Snickerdoodle

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:24 AM

Someone will come along and give advice about stripping the wash, but you shouldn't use fabric softener on towels, washcloths, etc. It just builds up a wax coating on your fabric that locks in nasty smells.

#3 ~Phoenix

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:29 AM

I am at that place where everything needs to be thrown out. I think it is an issue that I need to be proactive with new ones - washing more frequently and immediately - rather than something that can be remedied. At least for me.
:bigear:

#4 Katy

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

Wash them again, but instead of detergent or fabric softener use distilled white vinegar. Then either immediately put them in the dryer or, preferably, hang them out in the sun to dry.

Also, if you have a front-load washer, stop closing the door when it's empty so mildew won't grow around the rubber gasket.

#5 Sandy in Indy

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

Try a long wash in HOT water and use a small amount of detergent and some vinegar. Run an extra rinse cycle. If you have a machine with a sanitize cycle, that usually does the trick. (I always use vinegar in my towel loads. It helps keep them soft and neutralizes odors.)

#6 In The Great White North

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

Drying them thoroughly, then rewashing with a cup or so of vinegar has helped whole loads like that.

The "boil" cycle (or just boiling them in bleach and detergents for for awhile) works too.

#7 Lawana

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:30 AM

The only thing I've found that works is Lysol deodorizing cleaner. Wash in the washing machine with some Lysol─a little goes a long way. The Lysol has its own odor which I don't like so I put the towels through another cycle with at least a cup of vinegar in the wash cycle (no detergent). If odor is still present, repeat using more Lysol.

#8 In The Great White North

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:31 AM

What's "stripping the wash?"

#9 slpchris

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:31 AM

Try washing them on the hottest cycle possible with vinegar. Do a couple of cycles if necessary. I do this when we get a batch of sour towels and it really does the trick.

#10 Parrothead

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:38 AM

I think it is this time of year. Every year, just as I'm about ready to throw everything away, the weather changes and my towels stop smelling.

#11 chepyl

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 09:53 AM

Our washer is in the garage, so if we forget about laundry for an hour in the summer, towels start smelling. I wash on hot with bleach and fabric softened and then dry thoroughly. It takes a cup of bleach for a full load. Sometimes, I have to run it twice.

#12 FaithManor

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:04 AM

Tea tree, lavender, or citrus oil...a few drops, added to detergent, and vinegar added to the rinse cycle. I've never had this fail.

It's the gasoline, oil, rocket fuel, etc. that dh gets on his clothes that is a real bugger to get out. Those scents seem to last forever no matter what I do.

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#13 Ellie

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:07 AM

Amway laundry products. That is all. :)

Ok, it isn't all. :D I have a front loader, and I never, ever leave the door open so the gasket will dry or not become moldy or mildewy. I always use fabric softener on all towels and washcloths. Amway laundry products clean wherever they go, including washing machine parts, and the fabric softener does not build up the way store brands do. No smell in the washer, clean, fresh-smelling, soft towels.

Ok, that is all. :lol:

#14 Tracy in Ky

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:08 AM

Hi Alison,

Try putting baking soda into the wash. Baking soda is great for removing odors. :)

#15 gardenmom5

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:46 AM

you shouldn't use fabric softener on towels, washcloths, etc. It just builds up a wax coating on your fabric that locks in nasty smells.


:iagree:also reduces absorption of water,

try oxy clean.

#16 justLisa

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:48 AM

Amway laundry products. That is all. :)

Ok, it isn't all. :D I have a front loader, and I never, ever leave the door open so the gasket will dry or not become moldy or mildewy. I always use fabric softener on all towels and washcloths. Amway laundry products clean wherever they go, including washing machine parts, and the fabric softener does not build up the way store brands do. No smell in the washer, clean, fresh-smelling, soft towels.

Ok, that is all. :lol:


OMG I remember my dad and his talks of Amway....though there was this one product that was I think for carpet stains and it was better than anything. How do you buy Amway?

#17 justLisa

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:51 AM

I have a front loader and bleach it every 2 weeks. I have to. It's like the one cleaning thing that is on my calendar. I started using a vinegar in the rinse for towels and surprisingly it really does help. Of course this is after I put a little bleach in the load. I went to all white towels. No matter what color I get they get stained with whatever so I prefer to be able to bleach. If you don't want to do bleach, you can do a baking soda soak in cold water, then drain, then go on with your washing. It helps to do the soda soak first, rather than just wash with a scoop added.

#18 mrsanniep

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:56 AM

I had a friend who complained about her husband's towels getting this way. She did some research and came up with the idea of adding some Pine-Sol to the laundry. I have no idea about how much or anything, but perhaps it's something to look up. It apparently worked, although I can't imagine adding Pine-Sol to my laundry myself ...

I add white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment on my front loader. I also add a scoop of Borax to the detergent. I don't have the smell issue.

#19 Ellie

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:06 AM

OMG I remember my dad and his talks of Amway....though there was this one product that was I think for carpet stains and it was better than anything. How do you buy Amway?

There is probably an Independent Business Owner (IBO) in your community; if so, you can probably find one (or more) in the white pages of your telephone book (if you still have one, lol). Or you can contact Amway directly and get the names of IBOs in your area.

#20 Susan in TN

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:09 AM

Wash them again, but instead of detergent or fabric softener use distilled white vinegar. Then either immediately put them in the dryer or, preferably, hang them out in the sun to dry.

Also, if you have a front-load washer, stop closing the door when it's empty so mildew won't grow around the rubber gasket.


I just put a good bit vinegar on the washcloths and stick them in the regular wash load.

#21 athena1277

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:17 AM

:iagree:also reduces absorption of water,

try oxy clean.


Oxyclean is what I use for towels. Ours got to where they were smelling and after I started adding oxyclean to the wash (with regular detergent), the smell is gone.

#22 alisoncooks

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:26 AM

Wow, thanks for all the ideas! I'll have to work my way through them and see what works best! :)

#23 JZMom

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:33 AM

I've had good luck using baking soda in the wash, then vinegar as a fabric softener. That works most of the time for me, but recently, I had a load that was really bad. I put everything out in the sun for a full day, and like magic, the smell totally disappeared.

#24 momto2Cs

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:41 AM

I've had good luck using baking soda in the wash, then vinegar as a fabric softener. That works most of the time for me, but recently, I had a load that was really bad. I put everything out in the sun for a full day, and like magic, the smell totally disappeared.


:iagree:


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