Dear Home Ec 101,
Why do towels and washcloths smell sour and how do I get rid of that funky odor?
Sour in Soux Falls
High on my list of most favorite thing ever is stepping out of the shower and drying my face with a sour smelling towel. Yeah. Absolute favorite thing ever.
How do towels get that sour smelling funk?
Mildew is the common name for a variety of fungi that enjoy growing on damp fabric, among other things. This happens when towels are thrown into the laundry hamper -or onto the floor- damp. Sometimes it happens after they are left in the washer for too long.
While some fungi are fab as a side dish, this variety is anything but appetizing.
Sometimes a quick rewash and thorough dry is all that is needed, but if the home has a front load washer, there’s a chance part of the cause of the funk is the machine itself. Follow the steps in this post on fixing a smelly washer before addressing the towels themselves.
If the smell lingers after a rewash and you’re certain the the washer isn’t re-fouling the towels -oh a rhyme, that costs extra- it’s time to address the underlying cause, detergent buildup. This is pretty common, but it should be noted that the solutions can sometimes fade the color of bright towels. Of course when given the choice between a sour but bright or faded but fresh, the choice is obvious, right? I mean, seriously, who wants to use a faded towel? How gauche..
Run the load of smelly towels on the hottest setting available with 1/4 – 1 cup borax , depending on the size of the load. Give the towels an extra rinse and add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse water. If the humidity is low, hang the towels to dry in the sunlight, if not dry thoroughly in the dryer. Sunlight is the sworn enemy of mildew and it’s not because the sparkling would give it away.
Reduce the amount of detergent used and consider adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle of all towel loads, this is especially helpful in areas with hard water.
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