DIY: Absorbent Odor Free Bath Towels

Absorbent Odor Free Bath Towels

The subject of “smelly towels” comes up a lot. Towel absorbency, or a lack thereof, is another subject moms talk about but aren’t quite sure how to tackle. The good news is, there’s a simple solution for both, and it requires ingredients you probably already have in your home.

Your Washing Machine holds the Key to Absorbent Odor Free Bath Towels

Sometimes, after towels have gone through many washings, they become less absorbent than they once were. This is especially true if you use liquid fabric softener on them. Detergent, fabric softener, dirt and body oils collect on towels over time and leave a coating that makes them less able to soak up water.

Alternately, brand new towels often aren’t as absorbent as we’d like them to be. This trick will remedy both situations.

Step 1: Hot Water and White Vinegar

Add your bath towels to the washing machine and fill it with hot water. If your hot water heater isn’t turned up hot enough to produce super hot water, boil a large pan of water on the stove and add it to the load.

Add one cup of white vinegar to the load and run the washer through a complete cycle.

Step 2: Baking Soda and Hot Water

Leave the towels in the washer after the above step and fill it again with hot water. Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the load and run the washer through another complete cycle.

Step 3: Dry the Towels

Throw the entire load of towels into the dryer or hang them on the line outside and dry them thoroughly.

Why This Works

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which breaks up hard water deposits and dissolves many types of buildup. Baking soda is an alkali-sodium bicarbonate that dissolves dirt and oil and neutralizes odor.

The combination of vinegar and baking soda should “recharge” bath towels and make them more absorbent while taking care of any funky mildewy smells that linger after regular washing. If your towels still smell funky after one round of this method, repeat the process again.

Mildew Resistant Towels

On a side note, there really is no way to make bath towels mildew resistant. Making sure to hang towels after use so they can dry thoroughly is a great way to deter mildew growth.

Having said this, you can purchase towels made of bamboo or hemp, which are naturally mildew resistant materials.


1. Don’t overload the washer. Too many towels in one load interfere with the rinsing process and leaves a residue in the towels.

2 Don’t use liquid fabric softener on your towels ever again. It leaves a coating on towels that make them less absorbent.

3. Don’t combine vinegar and baking soda in one load. The two ingredients produce a combustible reaction that will overflow your washing machine.

Image: iStockPhoto