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Video:How to Remove Mildew Smells from Towels

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Do your towels carry a strange odor, even after a good wash and dry? Check out these laundry tips, and your towels will be fresh and mildew-free again.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Remove Mildew Smells from Towels

SHey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Whether they've been stuffed in your trunk after a long day at the beach, forgotten in a corner of your bathroom, or simply not been washed anytime this millennium, there's a good chance your towels may have developed a potent batch of mildew. But check out these simple tips, and you'll be smellin' good again in no time. Check it out.

How Do Towels Get Mildew?

Let's start with a little mildew math. Mildew, which is a type of mold, only needs a few things to thrive: some kind of organic material to grow on, moisture, temperature somewhere in the range of 60-90 degrees F, and oxygen. And time. The best way to keep gnarly mildew smells out of your towels is to fully wash and dry them before the mold ever gets a chance to take root. I know, I know... next time...

Kill Mildew in Washing Machines

Start by checking to see if your washing machine is part of the culprit - older units are likely to develop mold themselves, which can contribute to the issue of your smelly towels. Sniff the inside of the basket and if there are no offensive odors, you're probably good to go. You can always do a no-load cycle with a couple cups of bleach, which should kill any mold that it comes into contact with. You might even want to run an extra rinse cycle just to make sure all the bleach and mold gunk is down the drain.

Wash the Mildew From Towels

Toss your towels in the washer, being sure to separate colors from whites. Assuming you're washing whites or that your colors have been washed before, select the hottest temperature available, and add in a cup and a half of white vinegar. Don't use any detergent or fabric softener. In fact, you might want to steer clear of liquid fabric softener all together with your towels, as some believe that it does not allow your towels to rinse thoroughly, and can even decrease their overall absorbency. Considering a towel's single purpose, that's no good.

Next, run the washer again with detergent this time, and be sure not to let them sit in the basket any longer than necessary between the vinegar wash and the regular wash. When this load finishes, toss them immediately into the dryer and run it on the highest heat setting available. Once the dryer is up, remove the towels, fluff, and fold.

Mildew-Free Towel Tips

If the towels are still damp, try hanging them in the sun - a great tip for damp beach towels, too. If the mildew smell persists, try substituting ammonia for the vinegar, but be warned that it may fade bright colors. Whatever you do, don't mix bleach and ammonia, which can create a toxic gas that can be injurious to you and those around you. Spinning a damp, mildew-y towel around into a rat-tail that you snap your sister with can be injurious, too, so knock it off.

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