Get Rid of the Sour Smell of Towels

Sour smelling towels are a common problem, and no matter how long or how often they’re washed, the sour smell sometimes remains. Towels are often thick and plush, and cotton is highly absorbent. Towels dry slowly, and before they end up in the wash, they can develop strong odors. These are is some of the main reasons sour smells permeate the fabric and hold on indefinitely.

If your towels smell sour, try the following washing tips and suggestions. It is possible to remove the sour smell, and you can do it without spending a small fortune in the process. Don’t turn your sour towels into rags. These tips and suggestions for removing sour smells from fabric really work. Your formerly sour towels will come out of the dryer smelling clean and fresh.

Don’t Overload

The way in which you do your laundry is as important as the products you use. People often make the mistake of overloading their washing machine. They stuff too many towels or other fabrics into the washer in an effort to save time and money, and the soapy water can’t properly circulate or agitate.

Instead of stuffing as many towels as possible into the washtub, layer them loosely, and cut back on the number you wash at one time. Chances are if your laundry is able to properly agitate in the soapy water, towels that once had a sour smell will come out clean and fresh.

Clean Your Machine

Just because the interior of a washing machine fills with soapy water doesn’t mean it doesn’t require occasional cleaning. If your laundry has a sour smell, once or twice a month run hot soapy water and bleach through your empty machine. If you just can’t stand to waste water, bleach, and soap, toss in a few rags and kill two birds with one proverbial stone.

White Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most versatile natural cleaning products. White vinegar is inexpensive, and it really works. Besides effectively cleaning and deodorizing hard surfaces, white vinegar is also great for freshening clothes and getting rid of a sour smell.

If you’re having a problem with sour smelling laundry, add white vinegar to the load. The first time you add white vinegar to a load of sour smelling towels, add one cup during the rinse cycle. If you have a fabric softener dispenser, fill it with a cup of vinegar instead of your normal liquid fabric softener. For subsequent wash loads reduce the amount of white vinegar to one half cup. Although vinegar has a strong smell, the odor of vinegar won’t remain in the towels once they’re dried. You’ll only notice soft fluffy towels that smell clean and fresh.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is also a natural cleaner that’s great for cleaning and freshening fabrics as well as hard surfaces. Along with your regular laundry detergent, measure about ½ cup of baking soda, and add it to the wash. After the towels have agitated for a few minutes, turn off the washing machine and let them soak for a few hours. Once a few hours have passed, continue washing the towels as usual, and dry them as directed. Towels that once smelled sour should come out clean, fluffy, and smelling great.

Dryer Time

Don’t make the mistake of leaving your freshly washed towels in the dryer when the dryer is through. Once the buzzer sounds, check your towels immediately and remove them if they’re dry. If your towels are the least bit damp, continue drying them until they are fully dry. Clean damp towels will turn into sour towels that will smell anything but clean.


Try good old-fashioned sunshine to help remove the sour smell from towels. Wash your towels as directed above, and add liquid fabric softener during the rinse cycle. Instead of tossing the towels in the dryer, take advantage of the free energy offered by the sun. If your towels have been properly washed, they won’t smell sour once they’re dry.

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