How to Get the Damp Smell Out of Towels and Washer

Updated February 21, 2017

Launder towels, clothes, and other fabrics so they are not just clean, but also smell fresh. If you fold and put away slightly damp towels, for example, they will likely smell musty when you are ready to use them. If your washing machine has a musty odour, the smell may transfer to your towels. Fortunately, with the help of bleach or vinegar and a couple of good laundry habits, you can once again enjoy clean, fresh towels.

Pour 2 cups of white vinegar into your washer, and run it through a wash cycle without any clothes. Use hot water. This will help clean your washer and get out any musty, damp smells.

Pour 2 cups of chlorine bleach in your washer, and run it through the wash cycle using hot water. Do this as an alternative to vinegar, or if the vinegar didn't get out the musty smell.

Add 1 cup of vinegar to every load of towels. This will help keep them smelling fresh, rather than damp and sour.

Wash a large load of bleach-safe towels with 1 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach. If you have a front-loading machine, reduce bleach amounts as recommended by your washer's manufacturer.

Launder smaller loads of towels at one time. Don't pack laundry into the washer. Lighter loads will get cleaner and dry faster and more thoroughly in the dryer than heavy loads.

Keep the washing machine lid open after each load of clothes so the washer can dry.

Remove towels as soon as possible from the washer after they've finished washing. Letting wet laundry sit for hours causes damp, musty smells in both the laundry and washer.

Dry towels in the dryer or hang them out to dry. Hanging towels and other clothes in the sunlight and fresh air will also help remove any musty odours. Be sure the towels are completely dry before putting them away.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
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About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.