Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Laundry Confessions: Stinky Kitchen Towels


I have another laundry confession to share. Sometimes when I wash my kitchen towels, they come out smelling almost as bad as when I put them in. It's gross.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but let's be honest. The point of a washer is to clean and freshen linens and clothing, so if your laundry comes out with a lingering stench, it's a bit disconcerting. Can anyone else relate?

Well, I looked long and hard for a solution, and I finally found one. When my kitchen towels start to smell, I soak them in baking soda and white vinegar using the recipe below, and it works like a charm! My towels usually only need the treatment every few months, but feel free to do it as often as necessary.

Cure for Stinky Kitchen Towels
Ingredients:
1/2 cup baking soda
1-1/2 cup white vinegar

Directions:
  • Soak towels in hot water with above ingredients for 2 hours. (I turn on my washer soak setting and pause it for 2 hours.)
  • Wash towels in hot water using a strong detergent. (I use Whisk Deep Clean with Oxi Complete.)
  • Dry towels until they are completely dry. (This step may sound obvious, but it's a very important part of eliminating odors.)

45 comments:

  1. Anonymous7/05/2017

    I've used this for years now and it works so well. One time I ran out of vinegar and so I used baking soda (about 1 cup sometimes I use less) and a citrus essential oil and that worked as well!

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  2. Anonymous7/05/2017

    I do the same with my husbands work clothes when they get covered in fuel and oil from repair work. I find all I have to do is add in some vinegar to the wash cycle with the normal laundry soap. Works great!

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    1. Anonymous7/06/2017

      My son worked for a drain clearing specialty company for awhile. I was frantic everyday to wash his clothes. So then he'd be clean and fresh to go. What a battle. He told me not to try so hard, because the other guys came in without fresh clothes. But I did not want to give up. (Thankfully he now is on his own and has a different job!)

      Delete
  3. Anonymous7/05/2017

    Washing machine is a great place for fungue, germs etc. to grow so it's good to "clean" the washing machine every once in a while and also clear them from old laundry soap and other stuff. I don't know how you do it in America, but I wash an empty load in 90 Celsius with citric acid and after that another empty load in 90 Celsius. Sometimes dirty machines give a bad stink to your laundry.

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  4. Anonymous7/05/2017

    It's also important to put your towels in the dryer as soon as the washing cycle is done. Don't let them in the washing machine for a long period of time or else both your towels and washing machine will smell bad.

    Josée

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    Replies
    1. Bicarbonate7/06/2017

      If you have enough space, you can save money and the environment by using an old-fashioned clothes line or drying rack.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/07/2017

      Our 25 yr. old dryer is limping a long, so I give it a break as much as possible by line drying or using a huge drying rack. Inside in the winter, the drying rack helps add much-needed humidity to the house.

      Delete
  5. That's.......erm, do you not know that your towels smell weird because your washing machine is filthy? You probably have a second hand machine, which you should have put on the hottest cycle beforehand you started using it, put Dettol or an anti bacterial solution with it and then maintenance every quarter.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous7/07/2017

      I don't think that is the reason. I had the same problem but had a new machine. Thanks for sharing! I will definitely be using your recipe!

      Delete
  6. Anonymous7/05/2017

    Good idea. I used a lot of javex when I was young. A ladfy who gave me a top must have put Dettol into her wash. Your husband might like that. But maybe esssential oils scents are more to his liking. Which essential oil smell would you use? I like lavender. Patcholi used to be a favorite of mine, but socially it does not go over with everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lavender is a lovely smell. I've never smelled patchouli. What does it smell like?

      Ellie

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/10/2017

      Patchouli used to be a favorite essential oil that was used by hippies. It is not a musk, but sort of in that line. Not really flowery or fruity. Do you know which scent I mean now?

      Delete
    3. Anonymous7/12/2017

      Patchouli actually comes from an exotic type of (mint family) plant by the same name. The scented oil can be extracted and the essential oil is just one use of the plant. It is interesting to read up on the plant - online.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous7/06/2017

    I've been using baking soda & vinegar like that for 40 years. It works for any smelly laundry. I wash with warm water, and it still works. I like to dry clothes outside in the sun when I can instead of in the dryer, which also seems to help. The Lehman's website has some great old-fashioned laundry aids that you won't find elsewhere.

    Also, don't forget about borax ("Twenty Mule Team Borax") to use as a laundry detergent booster and a deodorizer.

    I also use baking soda for scrubbing things around the house, not just in the laundry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, borax is great! I often use baking soda to scrub my tub. What do you use it for?

      Ellie

      Delete
  8. Anonymous7/06/2017

    I find that using clean towels each day stops any smells. For the machine, I agree about running a super hot cycle regularly to clean it through. Also, you really need to leave the door open when it's not being used to avoid the inside smelling musty.
    Bee :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous7/06/2017

      I always leave my lid up after the last load and let it stay like that until the next wash day, or until I'm sure the washer is completely dry inside. My machine is in a location where kids and pets couldn't get to them, so it's OK to have the lid up. Otherwise I'd probably find a curious cat or two in there!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/07/2017

      I agree about leaving the lid up when not in use. Also, I didn't think twice about my washing machine until we moved and I started using a brand new washer that has special sanitary cycles using super hot water or hot steam. Makes a HUGE difference. The washer also has a self cleaning cycle. Now, I don't think our stuff ever got super clean in our old washer, yuck. The new ones are so worth it...

      Delete
  9. Petersfam7/06/2017

    I had problems with this until my sisterinlaw told me what she discovered to do. Just go to your local coop (or Sams Club-but keep in mind you pay more for a little bag than you do at the coop but if your coop doesn't carry baking soda this is the next best thing to do) and get a big bag of baking soda and just add a half-cup or more if like to your load. This is all!! I don't have any more problems and everything smells so clean! The way it was explained to me is that soap residue stays in our clothes towels etc after we wash them and that's why they stink after drying. This is so easy-you don't even have to soak them before Ellie! Anyway I hope this works for others like it has for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Petersfam!

      Ellie

      Delete
  10. Anonymous7/06/2017

    forget soaking. I just pour some vinegar in with the detergent. works just as good. also stinky towels and bathcloths are not always an indication of filthy machines. depends on how long between washes and what was cleaned with those towels and rags and cloths.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I learned a tip from my mom about how to freshen up dish cloths if they get sour smelling in between washes. Wet the dish cloth so that it is somewhat drippy and microwave it on high for one minute. It will be good as new.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7/06/2017

      I don't think it's recommended to do that with all towels. I sew, and we have had major discussion @ my club meetings about whether or not you should ever put cotton fabric or quilt batting into the microwave to make dish holders or potato cooking bags. The final consensus was no, since you don't know exactly what the towel (in this case) might be made from. Poly will melt if zapped. And some fabrics or battings might have fibers of questionable content or debris from manufacturing that could cause sparks.

      Much safer to freshen towels the old-fashioned way.

      Delete
  12. Bicarbonate7/06/2017

    Wait, what?! Your mixing an acid and a base, that's pointless! Acids and bases neutralize each other. Based on the amounts you're using I'd guess you ended up with a basic solution. Vinegar is dilute acetic acid, so half a cup of solid baking soda should be more than enough to neutralize all the acetic acid in 1-1/2 cup of vinegar and turn the solution into a basic solution. In other words, don't waste your vinegar, leave it out next time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous7/07/2017

      But as they meet, they release...it is hydrogen? So it's like using a hydrogen-rich solution to clean your clothes, maybe like hydrogen peroxide? (Chem class was tooooo long ago...)

      I've had this mixture work wonders, even if it is an odd chemical reaction. It took out the smoke smell from clothes and linens after a house fire. It took out nasty odors from clothes that spent months in a cramped, greasy submarine with 100 other sailors. It took out the campfire smell from clothes that went on a camping trip.

      The vinegar changes the pH of the water and I think it helps soften the clothes. I wouldn't leave it out.

      Delete
    2. Bicarbonate7/09/2017

      They don't form hydrogen gas or hydrogen peroxide, but carbon dioxide and water. And some sodium and acetate ions as well, which don't do much.
      Yes, normally vinegar lowers the pH of water. Baking soda, however, has the very opposite effect. That's the point of my comment, soda is a base and since you add excess soda, it will not just neutralize the vinegar, but turns the solution basic (high pH). Hence the vinegar is wasted. Leave it out, the observed effects are probably entirely due to the baking soda.
      Vinegar might soften your laundry if you leave out the soda.

      Delete
    3. I agree with the "bicarbonate" poster in theory . Yes, Anonymous, vinegar lowers the pH (to more acidic), but bicarb/baking soda raises the pH (to more alkaline) . So you might be better to try one or the other separately? I remember googling this last time I saw the tip !

      Delete
  13. Anonymous7/06/2017

    Have you been to cummins falls lately?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not in several weeks. Why do you ask?

      Ellie

      Delete
  14. I've been doing this for a decade! My washer isn't so great so I DONT DARE to put bleach in it... because I'm afraid clothes will be ruined.
    I have found this is great for:
    Towels
    White sheets
    Sweaty workout clothes
    White clothes
    Our well has sediment in it so it also has a tendency to change my white towels/wash rags gray!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous7/07/2017

    I never had my kitchen towels smell bad. Must be your laundry soap that makes it smell bad.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous7/07/2017

      I only use my kitchen towels for drying my hands after washing. Everything else food-related or spill related gets a paper towel. Yes, not the best environmentally, but with pets, I'm often cleaning up epic messes that I would not subject my dish towels to.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/07/2017

      This is something I wondered about too.... If a person thinks that paper is an environmental waste would they instead go through their sheets, towels, t shirts, PJs, etc and take out the things with some damage and use these for rags. Then the money that would have been used to buy paper towels could be used to replace the old items with new items. That way old used stuff would find it's way to the dump and money would be used to get something more valuable than paper that would just go in the garbage.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous7/07/2017

      But if you use rags instead of paper towels, you're back to doing laundry, which uses water, detergent, electricity... There's going to be environmental impact no matter what you use.

      If you have really messy things like spilled milk or pet messes, then you might need paper towels anyway. If you don't wash spilled milk out of a towel or rag right away, it'll get real nasty real fast! And I don't want to think about what a pet accident might be like to clean out of a towel! What would you put that with in the wash, anyway?? Ugh! It would have to be a load of its own, which would really be wasteful.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous7/10/2017

      A person could throw the rags out same as tossing out paper towels and use the cash to buy new stuff. Isn't using paper towels sort of wiping up with cash?

      Delete
    5. Anonymous7/10/2017

      Throwing out a rag is more expensive than throwing out a paper towel, if you consider what you first paid for the clothes. Cleaning is a no-win situation.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous7/10/2017

      Yeah the clothes cost money but at some point they might be worn out.

      Delete
  16. Anonymous7/07/2017

    I have been hoping Ellie would respond to these comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7/08/2017

      She's on V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, sung like Connie Francis.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/09/2017

      Oh I did not think of that. I will check back later on then.

      Delete
  17. Anonymous7/09/2017

    Oh, I did not think of that. I will check back later on then.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous7/10/2017

    I won't put vinegar in my washer machine because it will make your clothes smell like vinegar. I put the clean setting on my washer and run the cycle after 30 washs in hot water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7/10/2017

      My children used to get mad at me for going nuts cleaning with vinegar. They said everything smelled of it!

      Delete
  19. Anonymous7/11/2017

    Are your towels completely dry before you put them in the hamper or a laundry pile? I don't let anything damp go into the hamper, or let a damp towel sit in a pile.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous7/12/2017

    I have no smelly towels here. We have a dehumidifier in our basement, between the laundry room and family room. It runs 24-7 in the summer. I hang my wet dirty towels to dry. I use Wisk liquid detergent. I put snuggle liquid fabric softener in the rinse water. In the dryer I toss in 1 fresh linen dryer sheet, which I purchase from Target. I only use fabric softeners in with my towels. Oh, and I always leave my washer lid up also, when not in use....Jane

    ReplyDelete