How To Get Musty Smell Out Of Towels (5 Steps)

fresh towels placed on a bed with flowers scent

Are your towels giving off a weird, musty smell? It’s more common than you think. That odor? It’s likely from moisture and pesky bacteria lurking in your towels. But worry not! Fresh, clean-smelling towels are within reach.

In this guide, we’ll walk through five simple steps to banish that musty smell for good. From sorting your towels wisely to giving them a spa-worthy treatment, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ll share some extra tricks to keep your towels smelling fresh and prevent that unpleasant mildew scent from sneaking back in.

Ready to bid farewell to the mustiness? Let’s dive in and rescue those towels from the funk!

Why Do My Towels Smell Like Mildew?

  • Moisture Hangout: Towels get smelly when they stay wet for too long. Its the perfect place for bacteria to grow 
  • Improper Drying: Sometimes, if towels don’t dry properly, that musty smell sneaks in like an uninvited guest.

Ever walked up to your towels and wondered, “Why do they smell like a musty basement?” Here’s the deal: moisture and those tiny bacteria are usually the troublemakers. When towels chill out in dampness for too long, bacteria go wild and produce that mildew smell.

Also, if your towels haven’t had the chance to air-dry properly, that can be the cue for the smell to waltz in. Imagine them in a humid, crowded space—it’s an open invite for that musty scent to settle in.

Why Do My Towels Still Smell Musty After Washing?

  • Residual Trouble: Detergent or softener leftovers can team up with bacteria, keeping the smell alive.
  • Drying Blues: If your didnt dry the towels correctly or if the cleaning wasn’t thorough, that smell might just stick around.

So, you’ve tossed those towels into a wash, expecting them to emerge smelling like a field of fresh flowers. But nope, that smell’s still lingering. It might be because of some leftover detergent or softener playing hide-and-seek with bacteria, keeping the scent alive. Also, if your drying technique isn’t top-notch or the cleaning didn’t hit all the marks, that smell might just hang out like an uninvited guest who won’t leave.

How to Get the Smell Out of Towels (5 steps)

Here is a simple step to step guide for taking the smell out of your towels. You can also learn more about how to keep your towel fresh and clean with tips and tricks here

Step 1: Sorting

different towels separated according to the color
  • Key Move: Divide your towels by color, fabric, and how funky they smell.
  • Why it Matters: This stops the smell from spreading and helps you target the stink.

Okay, first things first: sort those towels! Group them based on color (no color mixing disasters, please!), fabric type, and how strong that not-so-great smell is. This way, you stop the smell from jumping ship and get a clear plan to tackle it.

Step 2: Pre-Treatment

lemon juice and baking soda
  • Magic Solution: Soak towels in hot water and vinegar mix to kick that odor to the curb. Consider using lemon juice if you don’t have vinegar
  • Why it Works: Vinegar’s the secret weapon against those pesky smells.

Time for a spa day for your towels! Let them take a dip in a hot water and vinegar pool. This mix is like a superhero against those funky odors, showing them the exit door.

Step 3: Washing

  • Tool Up: Grab the right detergent and crank up the heat on your washer.
  • Why Hot Water? It’s a superhero move against lingering smells.

Now, toss those treated towels into the washer with the appropriate detergent. And here’s the trick: turn up the heat! High temperatures work well against those persistent odors.

Step 4: Drying

  • Heat Wave: Opt for a high-heat dryer session or some good sunlight.
  • Why It Helps: Heat zaps those last stubborn smells away.

Time for the grand finale! Dry those freshly washed towels using a high-heat setting in the dryer or hang them out in the sunshine. 

Step 5: Final Touches

  • Extra Freshness: Optional—add a dash of essential oils or scent boosters.
  • Why Not? It’s the cherry on top for that fresh, fragrant finish.

For that extra touch, consider tossing in some essential oils or scent boosters when the towels are dry. It’s like adding a delightful fragrance bouquet to seal the deal on freshness.


baking soda
  • Sprinkle some baking soda in with your detergent for an extra odor-absorbing punch.
  • Try using oxygenated bleach to blast away those stubborn smells.

How to Prevent Mildew Smell in Towels

Prevention is better than a smelly cure! To keep those towels smelling like fresh laundry, adopt some smart practices. Always let towels air-dry completely after use, and stash them in a well-ventilated spot. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the air flowing—good ventilation is your secret weapon against mustiness.


Remember those five steps? Sorting, pre-treatment, washing, drying, and those final touches, if you fancy. But here’s thetrick: the real move is preventing those smells from creeping back. Keep up with regular care and maintenance, and your towels will thank you with that fresh laundry scent every time.

And, share your stories and tips! Your experiences might just help others in their quest for fresh-smelling towels.

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