How to keep bathroom towels from smelling musty

A towel that appears clean and ready to use often smells musty when you get it wet when drying after a bath or shower. Bathroom towels become musty smelling from bacteria feeding on the moisture on towel fibres. You can remove the musty smell with proper cleaning and drying, which will eliminate the bacteria, mould or fungus that causes the towels to smell musty.

Wash in warm or hot water with the recommended amount of laundry soap for the size of the load. Do not overfill the washer with clothes when washing towels. Leave plenty of room for the towels to thoroughly agitate.

Add 2 cups white vinegar to the rinse water to kill bacteria and mould or fungus that can contribute to odours when the towels are used.

Remove towels immediately after washing, and dry thoroughly in a dryer to remove all moisture from them. If drying on a clothesline, put towels in the dryer for 15 minutes on high heat after removing them from the line to be sure all moisture is removed from them. The heat also aids in killing any remaining bacteria.


Hang a used towel open on a towel bar to allow it to dry thoroughly. Wash as soon as possible after use.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
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About the Author

Emily Patterson has been creating content for websites since 1996. She specializes in home improvement, natural body care and natural cleaning articles. Patterson holds a computing certificate from Penn State University.