Everyone has been guilty of causing “stinky towel syndrome” at one time or another. You wash your hand towels, bath towels, washcloths, kitchen towels, etc., and then you forget them in the machine. In the morning, you’re left with a smelly mess that the dryer just can’t fix. What causes your stinky towel to smell? How can you get rid of it?

What Causes Stinky Towel Syndrome

Leaving your towels in the washing machine overnight isn’t the only way to end up with a mildew smell. For example, you may have moved the towels to the dryer, but then didn’t dry them long enough. Or the dryer may be getting old and doesn’t have the drying power it used to.

Of course, the dryer isn’t always to blame. If the problem is the washing machine, you will have to clean it. To get a musty smell out of a washing machine, use hot water and two cups of bleach, and run it with no clothes inside. Then wipe everything down and leave the washer open to finish air drying.

Getting the Musty Smell Out of Towels

If the problem is because the towels didn’t dry properly, the fix may be as simple as washing them again in hot water. Try adding white vinegar to the load of laundry for extra odor-eliminating power. A cup should do for a full load. Once you wash towels in vinegar, you will probably want to wash them again with a regular detergent to remove the vinegar smell. This time, dry the towels right away and check when the dryer cycle ends to make sure the smell was removed. Using a dryer sheet can also help eliminate any stubborn leftover odor.

The hamper can be another trouble spot for building smells. Don’t throw a towel in the hamper if it is still wet because it will start to smell in the hamper. Hang towels to dry first, unless you intend to wash them immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with that stinky towel.