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Keeping Bath Towels Absorbent and Ridding them of Odors

Updated on July 15, 2015
Vicki Perry profile image

For several years when I was young, I worked as a residential and vacant house cleaner, giving me a chance to experience numerous products.

Bath towels and washcloths can lose their absorbency over time. They also become a host to bacteria that can cause odors.
Bath towels and washcloths can lose their absorbency over time. They also become a host to bacteria that can cause odors. | Source

Towel and Washcloth Odors

Towels and washcloths smell wonderful when they first come out of the dryer. All the detergent and fabric softener scents snuggle your body after a warm shower. The same products that give us the snuggle-fresh scent after laundering harms the towels and washcloths over time.

As time passes, towels and washcloths are coated with residue left over from the chemically based detergents and softeners we use to wash them, leaving them less absorbent. The residue is a perfect place for bacteria to settle in, creating an odor that may be difficult to remove with regular washing. Where you have bacteria, you will have odor.

Rewashing towels and washcloths adds more of the residue to the cloth instead of removing the odors completely. Using bleach on towels may remove some of the odor, but it's a harsh answer to the problem. Towels and washcloths with any sort of coloration can't be bleached and typically are discarded as useless when odors begin to form or loss of absorbency is present.


New towels smell wonderful when they come out of the dryer after their first wash.
New towels smell wonderful when they come out of the dryer after their first wash. | Source

Breathe New Life into your Towels

There is a simple solution to laundering items such as towels and washcloths to breathe new life into the fabric. When towels and washcloths are losing absorbency and tend to pick up odors, wash them with this simple method:

Instructions for Refreshing your Towels

  1. Pour 1 cup of white distilled vinegar into the washing machine tub.
  2. Place load of towels and washcloths in washer.
  3. Set the temperature to warm water.
  4. After the washing machine has completely finished, add 3/4 cup of baking soda.
  5. Rewash the load with the baking soda.
  6. When the machine is finished, remove the towels and washcloths from the tub. Place them into your dryer.
  7. Run your dryer as usual, but do not add fabric softener.
  8. Once the load is complete, your towels and washcloths should be refreshed and ready to go. The next time you wash them, laundry detergent and softener can be added if you wish. Periodically recharge your bath items to keep them fresh.
  9. Never overload your washing machine. A regular size tub can only handle the weight of two pair of adult jeans.
Refreshed towels absorb water better and smell great.
Refreshed towels absorb water better and smell great. | Source

Clean and Fresh!

Once your towels and washcloths are refreshed, they can be rewashed immediately if you prefer. The softener and detergent residue has been removed and the fabric will pick up the scent of the laundry products, without the underlying odor problem.

The fabric is softer and has a better absorbency potential. Once the residue is removed, the color is vibrant again. Use this method of refreshing towels and washcloths any time you feel your towels have lost their "newness" or have picked up odors from usage or storage.

The refresh method is also good for any clothing or bath items that have a mildew or mold odor to them. Bedspreads, pillowcases, sheets and items we use often are run through this process on a six-month basis to keep them fresh too.


Refreshing my Bath Towels

© 2015 Vicki Perry

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