In this post: How to get the smell out of towels in 3 easy steps using just regular household ingredients, no harsh chemicals and no soap.

Ew! There’s nothing worse than hopping out of the shower and grabbing a towel to dry off, only to find out that the towel smells bad. But wait, didn’t you just take that towel out of the clean laundry? What gives?

Unfortunately over time, even with frequent washing, towels can get smelly. It can happen to all the towels – dish towels, tea towels, hand towels and bath towels too! Even face cloths can succumb to the stank!

So how to you get the smell out of towels so that you don’t have to go and buy new ones? Believe it or not it’s easier than you think!

refresh old towels!

How to Get the Smell Out of Towels in 3 Easy Steps

clean stinky towels (c) Can Stock Photo / Magone

To remove the smell from stinky towels, no matter which type of washer you have, you simply follow three steps:

  1. Place towels into washing machine. Add 1 cup of white vinegar. Run for one regular cycle. 
  2. Leave towels in washing machine. Add 1 cup of baking soda. Run again for a regular cycle. 
  3. Dry thoroughly in the dryer. (We use natural wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets or fabric softener.)

Do NOT mix the baking soda and vinegar into the same load thinking you’ll save a step. You will be most disappointed when instead you end up with a frothy volcano erupting from your washing machine!

clean smelly towels

(c) Can Stock Photo / Sandralise

It’s really that simple.

You don’t need to keep using stinky towels and you don’t need to go out and buy new ones if yours are smelly. Just follow our three simple steps for how to get the smell out of towels and you’ll be happy as a clam once again!

get the smell out of towels

More Home Cleaning Hacks

Have you used this method for cleaning towels yet?

shannon photo and sig oct 2022

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    1. You’re welcome! It was too good not to share! I mean, who wants to buy new towels all the time!?!

  1. Thank you for this! I just noticed this week after taking my towels out of the dryer that they still had kind of a funky smell. I’ll give this a try.

    1. Yes! I now need to go through and wash the ones that didn’t go in the last load. 🙂

    1. Right?! We tried so many ideas too. This was the only one we found that worked!

  2. Does the vinegar go into the detergent compartment or directly into the load with the towels? Hot or warm or cold water?

    1. Hi Jill,

      I’ve done the vinegar both ways – in the detergent compartment and directly in the load. That part doesn’t really matter so much. As for the water temperature, I’d follow the same rules as I would for all laundry – hot for white towels, cold for colored. 🙂 I hope that helps!

      xo, Shannon

    1. Hello Sharon,

      This isn’t to clean the towels per se, but rather to get the stale, damp, musty, sour scent out of them. Baking soda and vinegar are excellent cleaners though, so I’d say yes. Unless your towels are visibly dirty after these two washings – which I highly doubt. In that case, wash ’em again with some laundry soap.