Disinfecting Bath Towels
It seems that I am having a problem with bath towels smelling after like two showers. It is about 80 degrees in So. California where I live and I work in construction. A lot of sweating. My wife want to throw the towels out and get new ones. I have had these hotel style cotton towels for a few years, but this is the first year that they have gotten this bad. My wife thinks the smell is now built into the fibers. I have washed them on the Sanitary cycle in extra hot water, but that has not stopped the problem. They are all dark colors so I cannot use bleach. Should I throw them away and get white that I can bleach everytime? Any other options?
Try washing them with baking soda.
How much baking soda for a large load? Do I use soap as well?
I'd use at least 1 cup of baking soda and definitely put in soap too.
If you are considering tossing them away anyway, try this first. I have colored towels and I do bleach them. However, I do not add the entire cupful that the bottle calls for. I fill the washer up for a small size load, add detergent, about 1/4 cup of bleach and 1/2 cup of borax. I let the machine start to agitate for about 2 minutes then I continue with the filling up of the tub. I add my towels when the machine is about 3/4 full and let it continue filling. With the first washing, my colored towels came out a smidge lighter. This works well for me, but I have a toploading washer. I have no ideas for the frontloading kind.
There is a product called "bleach for the unbleachables". I like to dry facecloths outside in the sunshine. It is really too bad that outside clotheslines have been banned in so many places.
I don't mean to hijack this thread but I was just surprised to read that in some areas clotheslines are banned. I love hanging the wash outside and prefer it over a dryer anyday. And to think we are always encouraged to look for ways to conserve energy.
And speaking of fabric softener buildup, I never thought of it because I don't use it . . .but I have read that fabric softener sheets cause a film to build up on the lint screen in the dryer. Over time, it can also be one of the reasons that it takes longer and longer for loads to dry. This was told to a woman by her dryer repairman. He took the screen to the sink and ran water across it. She said the water didn't just flow through as if the screen was clogged. The repairman recommended that she occasionally wash her lint screen with soap and water to remove the buildup. Yes, I know this is hearsay but something to think about.
Yes, my neighborhood doesn't allow clotheslines but I found a sneaky solution and haven't been "turned in" for the 25 years I've lived in my house. I have a short catwalk (12 feet) between my garage and house where DH attached a pullout clothesline for me to use. It's the perfect lenth for my sheets and towels so I can enjoy the fresh smell and free drying energy of the sun! Now if we could just get more sunshine days in Houston....I know, I know so much of the country is crying for rain and we'd be happy to send it :-).
With regard to the dryer filter. I have tried the water and it didn't go through. I now periodically wash my filter with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Rinse well and dry. Makes a huge difference. I've read that that along with built up lint in the vent hose/pipe is the cause of many house fires. Makes sense to me!
So.......that's my story and I'm sticking to it................not heresay from me.......been there, done that!
I use fabric softener sheets in my dryer and do indeed find that it eventually plug the screen. However, I find Calgonite or some sort of water softener, cleans it very quickly with a rub with an old soft toothbrush. I actually keep both water softener and an old toothbrush by my washing machine and use them for many things.
I've read about the dryer sheet buildup on the lint screen too. I don't use them, but roommates do, so I scrub the lint screen with a brush and soap from time to time to keep it clean.
In a lot of suburban areas of California, clotheslines are banned by the community restrictions on the grounds that they are tacky-looking (we have small yards and big houses). In our town, we can't have anything over 5 ft in our yards without a city permit. Our dryer's heating element went out last week, and I'm using makeshift lines on my pergola, praying that no one reports me to the city officials before we can get it repaired. Meanwhile, our laundry smells wonderful!
The humidity in So.Calif. makes it hard to dry a towel that's folded in any way, especially in the bathroom. My relatives there have towel racks in the garage or laundry room that are wide enough to hang one set out flat while they use a second set. They use Set A on one day, then take them out to the garage, grab Set B and hang them in the bathroom for the next shower. Each towel gets a full two days to completely dry out. It doesn't increase laundry time, as you are alternating days.
I use ammonia and warm water on my non-bleachables. It seems to work for me. I fill the washer with a cap full or two (liquid detergent bottle size).
How close are the towels when hanging? Is there a way you can spread them out so that they aren't folded?
Thanks for all of the responses. I surprised my wife last year with the new front loading washers from Sears. Top of the line. Although she was expecting a different kind of "gift", she still was not impressed. Neither were her girlfriends upon hearing of the surprise coming in advance. The wife does not like them, and asked me not to pick items like that out for her. Anyways, since I do not have a top loader, I think Miss Tara Tara's way is out. I could put the baking soda in with the clothes if I disperse it around, and the comment from Lynnelle, I could put the ammonia into the soap dispenser and the bleach compartment at the same time. I yahoo'ed bleach for the unbleachables but it did not give a source for purchase.
Oh my! The front loading washers are the best! Wish I had one. I used my nieces while visiting and there is no comparison!
Oxyclean or Clorox II or bleach alternative or all fabric bleach or Biz might work.
I had this problem once and it ended up being caused by a build up of excess liquid fabric softner in the bathtowels. I think I used white vinegar in the rinse water, then rerinsed with clear water. It took a few times but did correct the problem. DH and DD were putting way too much softner in, but they meant well.
I was also going to suggest that it might be the fabric softener.
I do not add ammonia to my bleach dispenser because I don't know all the effects of mixing bleach and ammonia. I know that mixing the two can cause bad fumes, but I do not know how the combination will affect the hoses, compartments, etc. I have a top-loading machine so I just pour the ammonia in the water. Whatever you decide, just be careful.
What is borax? I may have to go to a laundrymat.
Borax is a common laundry additive, powdered form, available at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. "50 Mule Team" is one named brand.
If you can't soak the towels in your washer (because of front load) you can soak them in the bath tub. I know it isn't easy to then transfer heavy wet towels to the washer but you could get a good long soak that way.
Be very careful with combinations!! NO bleach with ammonia! READ all labels!
Bleach is the best disinfectant, white vinegar the best rinse agent. IMHO and NO fabric softener on towels, coats the fibers and makes them less absorbent!
I was going to add my two pennyworth, then I saw your post.....
But there again, I will anyway. <big grin>
I was told years and years ago that I should never ever add fabric softener to towels as it stops them absorbing water and also never to iron them.... I hate ironing anyway so that wasn't a problem
Don't worry about how a bleach and ammonia mix could harm your machine's hoses, worry about yourself and your family. This is a deadly, deadly mixture, not to be used under any circumstances.
I have been told that by my mother for years. Do not mix bleach, such as Comet, with bleach. Very dangerous. I am glad you said something, and I am saying it again.
Bleach and ammonia can be deadly. Literally, so don't mix them in any proportions. DD has the exact same problem with her towels. I go visit and can't stand it. When she goes out I redo the towels washing them in hottest water. Before I fill up the washer with water and towels I pour in one capful of bleach. This is enough to kill germs and really works. After enough water is in to mix the bleach in, maybe several inches, then I start loading the laundry. I do a double rinse as well. The towels come out nice and fresh like mine. I have noticed that when I arrive there the washing machine is always on a cold water wash. I am sorry but cold water does not kill germs. I have mentioned the towel issue to her and she says they smell fine. Oy,,,,,
You may need to clean your front loader as well. I have a MayTag Neptune (which I worship on a daily basis by the way!) and occasionally I have to run bleach and a bit of soap (I use Persil) on a hot cycle with no fabric in the machine. Check with the manufacturer on this. The tub can get pretty funky over time.
Do not mix bleach and ammonia!
i second soaking in strong solutions of borax or vinegar, any of the enzyme "oxy-" type detergeants, and also fresh air and sunshine to help with bad aromas. i have also simply doused things with full strength isopropyl alcohol straight from the bottle and hung out in the sun.
it was wonderful of you to buy DW a new laundry, but i'd have to agree that the peson who is doing the work should be the one to pick the machine.
-growing old is inevitable. acting old is optional.
Edited 7/21/2007 2:23 am ET by msm-s
There's nothing like sunlight and fresh air! I sound like an advert, but it truly makes the laundry smell fabulous.
I will second Becky's post: borax is a great addition to a wash, it extends the effectiveness of soap, makes everything in the wash smell fresh. It may seem expensive, but you don't need a lot in each load, I use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup to a full load along with the same amount of soap, but it depends on the hardness/softness of your water supply.
The Final Solution:
I filled up my wheel barrow with hot water out of the hot water heater. Then I added a gallon of white ammonia and 1/3 box of Borax to the mix and sturred it with a broom stick. I added the 5 towels into the container and covered with plastic and placed the wheelbarrow in the sun to soak all day. Late afternoon I will place the towels on my sloped driveway and then I will wash them down with a hose into the drainage. Wring then out and on they go into the washer with a cup of baking soda and baking soda laundry soap. All this on Sanitary cycle with multiple rinses. Then dry on high heat. Do you think this will kill the monster or are there any other additions?
Please allow me to make something perfectly clear:
I did not at all suggest or advocate mixing bleach with ammonia. I have received a number of responses regarding this and I want to make sure what I said was correctly understood. The gentleman wanted to pour ammonia into the bleach receptacle to which I commented on the environmental outcome of mixing such chemicals as well as the potential for damage to his machine.
Edited 7/22/2007 9:00 am ET by Lynnelle
I read your post with the intent that you had.
Along the same subject, does the "Bleach for Colors" disinfect? I need to use it on underwear but don't want to ruin the colors or elastic.
Do you have a way to add some white vinegar to one of your rinse cycles? It helps get all the "soap" out.
My machine has a Skincare rinse. I always use it. It is better than the 2 rinse cycle choice. I added baking powder soap to my wheel barrow mix. I'll give my soak another 2 1/2 hours.
are you saying that you are laying the towels in the driveway to dry in the sun? can you find something to hang them on instead? once you've done all the chemical stuff possible, you want to dry them as fast and thoroughly as possible, preferrably with good airflow.one thing i'm remembering now about a similar problem i had ages ago is that after cleaning thoroughly time and again, it turned out that the closet i stored the towels in had a moistuer problem. the folded towels picked up a slight musty smell that for some reason i did not notice in the closet itself. it was a major problem to fix, but when the work was done, the towels quit smelling bad.
No, I just layed them out on the driveway to hose them down to get as much of the soaking solution out of them. Once I did that I powdered them down with baking soda and baking powder soap and threw them in the washing machine. they are almost done. I am going to do an additional rinse and then into the dryer on high heat. They come right out of the dryer and onto my towel rack in the bathroom.
Borax, Arm and Hammer, are washing soda or soda ash - similar to baking soda but twice as caustic. Therefore, baking soda can be used in food but washing soda cannot. Washing soda is great for removing odors, grime build-up, stubborn stains, etc. and the first thing I would try.
I think "Bleach for the Unbleachables" doesn't exist anymore as I tried to find some a couple weeks ago without success. I ended up with, I think, Javex II, something by Javex for fabrics that can't be bleached. Anyway, sounds like the same thing to me.
I think the washing soda would be your best bet.
Re: Bleach for the unbleachables" is still available at our Safeway; I noticed it just the other day, and the real name is "Bleach for Unbleachables" (no the). It comes in a liquid form in a white plastic bottle that looks just like a bleach bottle.
Edited 7/26/2007 8:19 pm ET by starzoe
I never have any trouble finding "Clorox Bleach for Colors".
Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to just buy a couple white cotton towels & wash with bleach & hot water or an "oxy" product & hot water. I did this for our washcloths. Have not had a problem with towels.
If the odor is sweet and musky and is also on your clothing and pillowcases, have your glucose checked - my husband had this problem recently and, we found that he was not getting the correct medication.
Edited 7/21/2007 3:57 pm ET by spicegirl1
I had this problem when we first moved into our house, before we put in the exhaust fan in the bathroom. To rid the towels of the funk, use 1/2 cup of baking soda to each load of towels with the regular laundry detergent, wash in the hottest water available and dry thoroughly. Hanging them out to dry in sunlight also works well.
would it be rude of me to ask, why clotheslines are banned? it is the only way most of us here in Australia dry our washing, the exception being wet weather.
Clotheslines are viewed as an eyesore. Most homeowners associations have rules against them. My wife has allergies and would not put one up anyway. She thinks that the allergens would attach to the clothes.
she's right, at least in an allergy mecca like i live in. tons of trees mean lots of pollen and too much shade to get full sun. trees also mean birds sitting overhead and dropping onto the laundry- yuck. buthanging up in fresh air is still an excellent treatment to get the smell out-- then you just wash in an ordinary cycle again to clean them of allergins.
The towels are complete, dried and on the rack. I will let you know in a few days if it worked or if I am buying new towels.
good luck! i hope you figure out what the problem was so you won't have to keep buying new towels
Hi, I am late to this discussion but I thought I would toss in some ideas. To keep the towels fresh you need to find the cause for the smell. If it is sweat then white vinegar will work to help eliminate the odor on a regular basis. If you are using a good soap on your body and a loofah or scrub mittens then you should be able to get the sweat off of your body. Then you don't get it into the towels.
All sorts of things can make fabric smell, mold, mildew, bacteria, any body fluids; wiping your face with a towel after brushing your teeth, wiping up a spill in the kitchen that has any food, especially dairy products in it, using a towel on a cut and getting blood in a towel. Dish towels can be the worst for spreading all sorts of things around. You shouldn't wash your dish towels with your bath towels. Poison Ivy can live on fabric for up to two weeks. The last thing is to always hang up your towel to dry after using it and never use it twice.
So, I use white vinegar if I know it is a recent smell, I use Lysol when I can find the concentrate in the little brown bottles. I also have used Pine Sol and in extreme circumstances I have used a full amount of bleach on a load of towels. You can also try turning up the temperature on your hot water heater for a couple of loads of towels.
Good luck, jane
Is it possible the towels are still ever so slightly damp when you take them from the dryer and put them away? That might account for the smell
Hanging out the towels can certainly bring on awful allergic reactions. DH would get welts and puff up after taking a shower or when he went to sleep. It took a long time to figure it out but once I stopped hanging out the laundry his reactions dissappeared and have never come back. I do miss the sweet smell of hung laundry but also like sleeping with a guy who doesn't feel like he is crawling with bugs.
yeah, it's sad. i am on weekly allergy shots for the next few years, and it has changed my life. it had gotten to the point where no precautions or medication was working and i was perpetually sick; really sick. i have my life back now.
A note about killing bacteria. Awhile ago DH and I decided to brew our own beer. Now yeast is a mean little guy and bacteria wont grow as long as it's active. However, after the beer is bottled the bacteria can start growing. After drinking your beer, it is neccessary to scrub the bottles with a bottle brush so there is no residual ring on the neck, that's where the bacteria grow.
When refilling the bottles we have 2 options. Sterilize in a spotlessly clean bathtub by soaking the bottles 20 min in a bleach and cold water solution (bleach is less effective at killing bacteria in warm water) or, dip in a sodium percarbonate solution and rinse immediately. When your talking about sterilizing 48 bottles, the quick dip rules.
I use B-Brite, but the active ingredient (sodium percarbonate) is the same as Oxy-clean. Just a tidbit. Anyway, had to stop brewing because my sourdough starter in the fridge was infecting the kitchen with the lacto baccilus bacteria and within 2 months all my beer tasted like sourdough. Not good!
Wow, where do you live. I live in Alabama and if they told me I couldn't have a clothesline, I would tell them they are not welcome in my business.
No, not rude to ask. I live on the west coast of Canada where we get the ocean breezes but in most new housing developments, we are not allowed a clothes line, as the other poster said, it "detracts" from the ambience. Other no-nos include motorhomes - they have to be hidden from view with trellis greenery. Older areas can have clotheslines but most people use the dryer.
I use fold away clothes airers (you can purchase them in a variety of sizes). If the weather looks doubtful off the line, onto the airer, onto the veranda, if necessary inside you would be rather surprised just how quickly things dry. Even in the heat of summer, bra's nickers and jocks dont go out into the sun, they dry on the veranda under cover they last longer. I've bee lazy of late and have been using the dryer, went to bed late the other night but could'nt settle had to get up and re-make the bed cause the sheets just did'nt smell fresh (not joking here). Bottom line could you use something similar in the backyard, legally.
I am fortunate that I have a collapsible clothesline in my backyard and I have a wooden fence, not chainlink. It looks like this. I hang all of my laundry on it except for underwear for which I use an indoor folding drying rack. I love how the outdoor makes my clothes feel and smell.
P.S. about your sheets and remaking the bed, I often chuckle when I see commercials for "outdoor fresh" fabric softener sheets. Is there <!---->really a comparison?<!---->
If Clorox will take out the smell, why bother whether they will lose their color or not? If they are your towels to use after work, you won't be having guests use them will you? I'd go ahead and use Clorox and see what happens. No worse than throwing them out.
Working for a living does not make towels stink! Improper washing and drying does.
Launder towels with a good detergent and rinse thoroughly - skip the fabric softener.
Dry towels thoroughly after laundering and after bathing.
Don't hang the towel on the towel bar..... as a mother, I never thought I would ever say that! Instead, lay out the towel and let it dry naturally or put it in the dryer.
I lay my towels out to dry after bathing because they don't dry as well if they are neatly placed back on the towel bar.
If all else fails, call on "Typically Mary Ellen".
i've never heard laying a towel on a surface dries it faster than hanging. in my experience, it's the airflow front and back that dries fabric. i can see why damp towels should not be hung in steamy bathrooms, but i don't think that simply hanging is the culpert-
You've heard it now - I stretch the towel out on the bed or over a chair and the paddle fan does the rest. Over the shower door works too - exhaust fan keep the room from getting steamy.
My towels do not smell anymore. The extreme soak solution worked. Whatever was in those towels is gone for now. I was using liquid fabric softner in the past, but I have not used it since the "soak".
Happy to hear that you will be keeping your beloved towels!
Good for you! Glad we helped. The smell might have been caused by all of the fabric softener never getting fully washed out, eh? Even Martha Stewart says to never use fabric softener of any kind on towels, as it also reduces absorbency & leaves a greasy coating.
i still don't get why that's better or even different from ove the towel rack -?
Don't know why, but I'm curious about that, too. Maybe the problem with over-the-towel-rod is that the towel usually gets scrunched up if not actually folded when put over the rod, instead of spread out nice and flat?
You got it!
I'd suggest you only use your towel once, then throw it in the wash. Have you been using a new biodegradable detergent lately? Years ago, I'd been using Amway detergent & I found it built up in the clothing - everything began to smell terrible, like vomit! I didn't know what it was, but it only happened when I'd changed detergents, so I went back to Tide & haven't had a problem since.
I'd definitely try the borax wash, vinegar in the rinse (do 2 rinses, to be on the safe side), absolutely no liquid fabric softener (that does leave a greasy film on towels, so it would affect the smell & absorbency of towels).
Let us know how this all turns out after you've tried everything.
I cut my bath towels into smaller pieces, a little bigger than a washcloth, and this size will dry me just fine. (I'm an average sized woman)
If I have to use a new one every day, at the end of the week it's still no more to wash than one *big* towel. These were decent towels I cut up..I suspect a cheap one won't be thick and absorbent enough to work at this size.
I just read through this whole thread with great interest. Did I miss it or did no one suggest boiling the towels? It's the old fashioned solution to funky wash rags and towels of all types. My grandmother would have been horrified if wash cloths or sheets weren't boiled at least occasionally. Kitchen towels and rags went in a big pot on the stove and sheets went through the "boil wash" in the machine (this was in Europe). It's very simple and no harmful chemicals are used.
i wouldn't really want to cut up nice towels, but that's a pretty good idea about using smaller towels to dry off. handtowels would be a good size in summer, although i'd still prefer to use full size in the chilly house in winter.
Years ago, when I lived far from where I am now, I developed a close friendship with a woman a bit older than myself. She had four teenagers, two of whom were twins and a very busy lifestyle. I learned a lot from her about running a household and teens. Each member of the family was assigned a color and that was the towels and washcloths they got. They were issued one a week and if it was on the floor she immediately knew who was at fault by color. They were never on the floor. On the weekends the children got together and all did their laundry, doing there own ironing and pooling wash cycles. It was quite a system. Did I say they were VERY wealthy? Yet their mom and dad taught them the importance of responsibility and contributing to the family unit. I learned so many valuable lessons from them that I incorporated in my own child rearing. Their children and ours all turned out very educated and very successful and I will always owe her a debt of gratitude. solo
Your story gives me hope for the future. My sons are grown and gone from home and are successful adults, but I cringe when I discover that teenagers now are not ever expected to contribute to the comfort they find at home. Toddlers smack their mothers, pre-teens swear at their parents and teens tune out their parents and do what they please. Someone will write to say "but they are not all like this" and that is true, it seems though that they are the exceptions.
I realize they are not all like this however; children today are much more physical than when I was a child and when my children were growing up. I agree with the theory of not hitting your child under any circumstances but that requires a mother and father who is willing and able to get up for every single misbehavior to correct the child and perform the appropriate response for the child.
I have three grandchildren under the age of three and believe me it is not easy to respond to every misbehavior when it occurs. This point of view may be due to the fact I just spent four days with two of them. The two that are 3 and 1 and can climb, swing, investigate anything and everything in their world.
Good night, jane
get up every time? i can easily call out "time out" without even averting my eyes.
and " 1 ... 2 ... 3" works very well from a seated position, as well.
no need to be "getting up" :-)the secrets are to be consistant, and to allow for some joyous horseplay when it isn't hurting anyone or breaking any rules.we have friends with a 6-yr-old child who has a sweet nature, but wild behaviour and bad marks for this in school. i love them dearly, but in the years i've known them, starting when their child was 3, i have witnessed them practicing poor discipline habits that has probably been the reason the behaviour has gotten worse.
many times i've seen them do "1,2,3", they wold repeat "2" numerous times and usually never got to 3, but reverted to other discipline without ending the method they started. the child had no reason to respond since the countdown was so variable. and the poor kid was constantly being told to slow down or stop jumping and running even in circumstances where it seemed completely acceptable, like outside with other running, jumping kids. he tries to bust out at every opportunity, because there is no situation that is always deemed okay.we have never spanked or hit out son, also 6 yrs. i know that some kids are more unruly than others, but i firmly believe that the earlier in life and more severe you start punishing, the sooner and harder they will push the boundaries, until you find you have created a monster who isn't phased by punishment.
babies and toddlers have to explore their world and their abilities, they are not trying to be bad. most experts agree that punishment is a bad idea during this period. discipline yes, but punish, no.
i avoided using the word "no" until our son was nearly 3, by substituting words like "gentle" and "careful" to curb his behaviour when needed. it not only corrected his actions, but it provided a useful guide for what he could do. most important, when i did start using the word "no", he took it very seriously and knew i meant business. from there we progressed to 1,2,3 and time outs and have had very few problems and no need to spank. i am going to keep my fingers crossed for the next 12 years though, lol.
...growing old is inevitable. acting old is optional.
Edited 8/11/2007 10:27 am ET by msm-s
Hi, Thank you for your thoughts. I agree consistency is so important. I think I have just taken on more than I can handle in terms of helping my children with their children. As a good friend said to me this weekend. Didn't I raise two girls already? Why would I want to go through that again? So, I have some thinking to do. Plus, I rarely get to sew anymore and when I do it feels like everything is rushed. So, it is time for me to take a Time Out and do some thinking about what I want for the next few years of my life. So, thank you for your input, it really helped me with this. Jane
wow. on the one hand, i am miffed at your kids for expecting so much of your time to help with their kids, and on the other hand, i'm jealous that they are lucky enough to have you! DH and i are older and have no family of a good age to help, or even near enough if they could.
bless your heart. be sure you and your daughters are always enforcing the same rules and using the same discipline methods, the same way. if not, or if you are not sure, then make an appointment to sit down and discuss it thoroughly. it will be easier for all of you, including the grandkids.
We have always used household ammonia (sometimes labeled sudsy ammonia)to remove any funky odors. It is the best on any body-caused odors: sports uniforms and towels, farmer's sweat-soaked clothes, teenager's super-perspiration. I add about 1/2+ cup to a large load of laundry. When all else fails, you can even make a similar solution and dip athletic shoes in it and allow to air dry. NEVER ALLOW BLEACH AND AMMONIA TO MIX, DON'T EVEN HAVE THE BOTTLES OPEN IN THE SAME ROOM. God bless you, Galey.
Borax works great and is a natural cleaning agent, low impact on the environment. We are blessed in our area to have an abundance of water, so I often will do a second rinse to remove excess build up of soap and 'gunk.' Wish I could hang out my laundry, but allergies don't permit. Have never had a problem with buildup of softener from dryer sheets, using scent-free sheets.
Sorry I have not logged on to this site for a while, but...
Here is the number one foolproof way to get the stink out of everything.I learned this from an old friend of mine who used to clean up bio waste in residential areas (dead people.)
1) Put your dry towels into a breathable cloth bag and tie it up. Actually, you have dark towels, so you can skip this step.
2) Place this bag into a very large heavy duty garbage bag, and stuff the whole thing with crumpled newspapers. Try to get the newspapers all around the towels. You need to leave some room for aeration, so doing this in a couple of batches may work well.
3) Seal the bag up tight and let it sit for a couple of weeks.
The ink on the newspaper will absorb the smell of anything given enough time. This also works on those funky refrigerator and freezer smells. If you have an RV, pack the fridge and freezer with newspaper as part of your fall wrap up routine, and the appliances will always smell fresh. Just remember to put some tape on the knobs if you are going to pack the oven so that it does not get turned on accidentally.
Ladies, this method will also take out even the worst of smoke smells in fabric.
Make sure that you are not over-loading your machine. If your machine is over-loaded, the clothes will not have enough room to agitate adequately, and will have an "off" smell. Also, I have learned that a second deep rinse will help. Many times , we tend to use too much detergent, and one rinse is just not enough to get it out of the clothes. Try it and see what happens. I always use a second deep rinse with everything.
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