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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proper Washing of Bath Towels 101

Bath Towel Washing 101

You're going to hear it from me first. Before anyone else. Because I just have this sneaking suspicion that not one other single writer in the world is probably covering this titillating topic today. They're probably busy with other less important work (don't tell them I said so). On the other hand, let's not pretend like you've never had the reason that your towels smell so badly cross your mind. You know, you use a towel or wipe your hands off on it and, suddenly, your hands stink like that wretched towel. Towels tend to get pretty icky and sour smelling if not taken care of....regularly, every single time. If you think I'm kidding, just do your very own research on The Internets or the Googles. All sorts of folks are having trouble. And I used to....I spent one entire day about a year ago devoted to washing, rewashing, drying and redrying all of our towels. With baking soda, with vinegar, with a special product from a sporting goods store. Over and over until they were smellin' like roses! So, if you've got your cup of tea nearby and are ready to learn, keep reading. Because I know that you represent the best in today's Modern Woman....and because inquiring minds want to know:
  • Wash towels far more often...don't allow bacteria to form in the first place.
  • Don't fold up towels after use and allow them to sit all day folded in bathrooms without allowing them to dry. Keep them opened up, spread out, to make sure they dry each day.
  • Wash them in hot, hot water. Today's high efficiency washers use far less water than older washers....so make sure it's nice and hot.
  • Use the right amount of detergent -- today's high efficiency washers require less detergent which means less mildew-fighting ingredients. Make sure you use enough. And did you know that not all detergents are created equal?
  • Use the hottest temperature your dryer allows....do not use the automatic cycles for towels. Today's high efficiency dryers use lower temperatures for drying....and towels require far hotter temperatures to be sure the bacteria is killed. Dry towels for longer than any other item.....even if they feel dry or feel hot, does not mean the bacteria is killed.
If you've got towels that currently smell like they have dried your inner upper thigh private areas one too many times, here are a few ideas:
  • Use baking soda, vinegar (not balsamic....save that for your pasta), or WIN High Performance Sport Detergent (sporting goods stores) along with your hot water. You may have to repeat the wash cycle several times to get the towels up to a Modern Woman's proper standards.
  • You may have to allow your washer load of towels to actually sit in the hot water and detergent above for a bit. To kill, destroy!, the invading bacteria.
  • Use extra rinse cycles at least until the towels are brought back up to good-smelling standards.
  • Using fancy, flowering-smelling fabric softeners and dryer sheets to cover up smells does exactly that...covers them up. Skip the good-smelling stuff so that you can see if your towels are actually clean or not.
  • Dry the hell out of those things....on high, for longer than you think is necessary....ours dry for one full hour on the hottest temperature available.
Here are a few links from the Internets if my above thorough information hasn't provided you quite enough food for thought:

WikiHow -- How to Remove Mildew Smell From Towels

And because I know that most of you are, indeed, "Modern Women," I present.....

Today's Modern Woman -- How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels

You'll thank me for all of this information later. I just know you will. I feel it.


Rick said...

Thanks for tidbits. That always bugs me when they smell a bit funky.

One thing that I noticed that contributes to their mildewy smell is if I leave them sitting in the washing machine too long before moving them to the dryer. This is worse in the summer.

Good topic!

Lemuel said...

Washing towels is like voting: do it early and often. ;)

Birdie said...

I ended up pitching towels that I couldn't make smell fresh. I knew the answer was to keep them dry after use and wash more, but I didn't know there was a cure. I learned something new today!

LeLo said...

Is this the same with funky smelling kitchen towels? I can't figure out why sometimes my kitchen towels smell like barf.

anne marie said...

thank you, susie homemaker...all joking aside, I too learned something, so thanks!

Mark in DE said...

Thanks - in addition to worrying about Christine O'Donnell for Senate, now I have to worry about bacteria in my towels! ;-)

DanNation said...

Being like Monica from Friends myself, I am meticulous about cleanliness - this is a great and helpful post!

CJ/Rick said...

I have wondered about why my towels are so scratchy and rough on my private areas. I tried the vinegar thing in the rinse cycle which seem to help. I'll have to try this remedy and see if I can get some fresh smelling and softer towels.
Thanks Lewis--you'd be soi handy to have around the house. Mr. B is so lucky. Mason too.
Wanna wrestle? Love the new banner.

Ur-spo said...

I very much enjoyed this; what fun !
And so sensible too. I will try to follow your advice.

Anne said...

so let me get this "straight"...

did you say something about a bug?

LSL said...

From one modern woman to another: thanks for this post! I've never known exactly what to do about icky smelling towels except shop for new ones!

Wayne said...

Craig's been doing just that for years.
And yes, when did you take up wrestling?

Ur-spo said...

Thanks again!
I am going to try a hostile takeover of the towel washing and give them a proper going over!