How to make towels smell fresh…


I got this Question from one of my readers,

I am looking for suggestions on washing my towels. I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but it seems that no matter what I use, they don’t smell good. I have tried many soaps, vinegar, baking soda, rinsing twice, and many different rinses to no avail. Does anyone have a suggestion for me? We do not have a water softener. Could that make the difference?


The funny thing is I have thought of doing a post of this before…but always put it off.  A few years ago I was helping my friend clean her house when she grabbed a clean dish towel out of the kitchen drawer…when she got it wet she smelled it and and then tossed the whole towel in the trash….. My jaw must have hit the floor.  She then explained to me that she only kept  towels or dish clothes for about 6 months before they got ” that sour wet smell” and she had tried everything to get them smelling clean….but gave up and now just tossed them in the trash.

Now I agree one of my biggest “pet peeves” in life is a smelly towel….yuck!  But I would never toss out my towels every 6 months and buy new ones.  I asked her if she had ever tried a little bleach when she washed her towels…she said no because that would make them fade.  I personally would rather have a towel that was a little faded ….then one that smells bad.   PLUS she was tossing them out anyway so if they were a little faded does it really matter?

So to answer your question I have found that about 1/2 cup  of clorox or bleach added to a full load ….makes them smell super fresh and clean!  I always start the washer, and as it is filling up with water then add the bleach….then your towels so you do not get bleach spots.  Use color safe bleach and it should prevent fading….but I always use the normal stuff.  Hope that helps!

Does anyone else have other tips for clean smelling towels?


  1. But what if u have a front load washer. I can’t add anything after the water is in……

    • Jackie, I too have a front loader and the bleach could be added with the laundry detergent. My machine has a spot to place bleach in at the tray. I like to use vinegar to get towels and much of any stinky laundry smelling better.

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