Tips and Advice

This is the secret to fresh-smelling towels


Do your towels still smell after a wash? Make your old towels feel fluffy and as fresh as new with two simple ingredientsTwo towels hanging up to dryPhotographer: Philip Castleton 

You may wash them regularly and hang them up after use, but still be asking yourself: why do my towels smell?

Despite our best efforts to keep them clean, towels often develop a less-than-fresh smell. One of the main causes of this is detergent build-up. Over time, soap residue accumulates in the fibres of the towels, stopping them from absorbing as much water as possible, and from drying as well as they could.

Bacteria then starts to build up in the fabric, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself mildewy smelly towels in a pile of just-washed laundry. But you can make your old towels feel as fluffy and fresh as new, with two ingredients: white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

How to make towels smell fresh

  1. Put your towels in the washing machine with a cup of white vinegar instead of washing detergent, then wash on a hot cycle.
  2. When you hit the rinse cycle, add half a cup of baking soda, and run as normal.
  3. Remove your towels, and dry them thoroughly on the line or in the dryer.

Photographer: Kristina Soljo

Preventative measures to stop smelly towels after washing

  • Always allow towels to dry thoroughly. Never leave them on the floor, and make sure your towel racks allow space for air to circulate. Using exhaust fans will stop the bathroom from becoming too humid for towels to dry properly.
  • Better yet, invest in a heated towel rail if you can, to help speed up the drying process.
  • Keep older towels for odd jobs – this includes drying your pets. The less you need to give them a heavy-duty wash, the less product build-up they’ll suffer.
  • Stick to the recommended amount of laundry product, if not less.
  • Give towels the white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda treatment every third or fourth wash as a matter of habit.
  • Don’t use commercial fabric softeners on towels; they coat towels with a thin layer of chemicals, making them less absorbent. White vinegar is a better (and cheaper) choice to soften and freshen them.

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