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How to get a sour smell out of your towels

When you step out of the shower or bathtub, fresh and clean, only to end up drying off with a sour smelling towel, it can be rather unpleasant. With each use, towels are exposed to many things that contribute to that nasty sour odour. Dead skin cells, dirt, moisture and mildew cause a towel to go from clean to smelly within just a few days. While frequent and proper washing is the best way to keep towel odour at bay, there are other things you can do to keep your towels fresher longer.

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  1. Wash sour smelling towels in the hottest water allowed. Add the normal amount of washing powder to the wash water along with 1 cup baking soda. Baking soda is a natural deodoriser that will freshen your towels as well as make them feel softer.

  2. Pour 1 cup white vinegar into the water reservoir of your wash machine as it fills for the rinse cycle. Not only will the vinegar further freshen your towels it also keeps the colours bright and softens the fibres.

  3. Place your clean towels in the dryer with a reusable scented dryer bag. Lavender or vanilla are mild scents that add a pleasant smell to your towels.

  4. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and keep it in the bathroom. When you hang your towel to dry after a bath or shower, give the towel a light spritz of vinegar to freshen the fibres and prevent mildew development. The smell of vinegar will dissipate when the towel dries.

  5. Tip

    Hang your towel up after each use to prevent odour-causing mildew from developing. If possible, hang towels outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Launder towels every few days.


    If you follow these methods and still have sour smelling towels the problem may be your washing machine, not your towels. Remove dirt and odour from your washer by running 2 gallons of vinegar through a full cycle. Never leave towels in a wet pile on the floor. This encourages the growth of mould and mildew, which can lead to sour smelling towels.

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Things You'll Need

  • Heavy duty washing powder
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Re-usable scented dryer bags
  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar

About the Author

Mary Ylisela

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.

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