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How To Deep Clean Old Towels

    Are you dealing with old towels and have no idea what to do? Do they have a musty smell that seems like mold? If your old towels do not smell fresh, it is probably because of the accumulation of bacteria. We all know that wet towels are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially in the washing machine, bathroom, and even in the dryer. Bath towels are extra vulnerable because their thickness holds onto moisture that enables bacteria to breed.

    Causes Of Smelly Towels

    If you have ever owned a leaking air mattress, you would know how hard it is to stop the loss of air unless you find the hole. Similarly, when you want to deep clean old towels, you first need to understand why they are stinking in the first place.

    Here are some things that can cause old towels to smell:

    Being In The Washer For Too Long

    The inside of a washer is extremely hot and humid. Of course, it is also very moist. This environment causes bacteria to grow and multiply rapidly.

    Staying Slightly Damp

    When getting clothes out of the dryer, you may disregard a towel that is slightly damp, thinking that it does not matter. However, wet towels cause bacteria to grow.

    When these towels are placed in a hot bathroom, they encourage the growth of mold.

    Build-Up Of Detergent

    We all love to use lots of detergent on our clothes. However, it is important that all that detergent is washed out as well.

    If it is not rinsed out thoroughly from your towels, dirt and bacteria will find their way on the thick cloth.

    The Residue Of Fabric Softener

    You may think that old towels require more fabric softener since they tend to become stiff over time. However, the truth is that fabric softens only traps bacteria and dirt because of its oily consistency.

    How To Deep Clean Old Towels

    The Double-Wash Method

    If you are looking for a quick and easy way to deep clean old towels and make them look new, you must follow the double wash method.

    The double wash method helps you wash out extra laundry products like detergents and fabric softeners that do not allow the towel to feel fluffy. Moreover, it helps get rid of the stink that refuses to leave regardless of how many times you wash your towel.

    For the first wash, you need to throw clean towels into the washing machine. However, instead of adding any laundry product, add 2 cups of white vinegar into the machine. This will help get rid of any residue that may be responsible for the sour smell. Moreover, vinegar will help keep the towel soft and will get rid of all bacteria. You must set the machine to the hottest cycle and allow it to run.

    For the second wash, let the towels stay in the washing machine. Choose the hottest, longest setting and pour 1 cup of baking soda along with a detergent into the machine. The aim of the second wash is to neutralize the smell of the vinegar and get rid of any strong elements. Moreover, it will also help deep clean old towels.

    The Strip-Wash Method

    The strip wash method can be disgusting, but we assure you, you will feel oddly satisfied in the end. It doesn’t matter how old your towels are- a strip wash will get rid of every bit of dirt and bacteria.

    However, only do this on the weekend or when you have time since strip washing requires lots of waiting so that the water can cool. Don’t worry- you do not have to use this method regularly. Instead, you can strip wash your towels every few months.

    If you are using a top-loading washer, here are some steps to follow:

    • Pour ¼ cup of borax in the washer and throw in your old towels
    • Add ¼ cup of washing soda
    • Add ¼ cup of laundry detergent
    • Pour in hot water and allow it to cool naturally. This may take up to five hours.
    • Set the washer to a hot-water rinse cycle.
    • Before you dry the towels, look at all the gunk that must have come out. Brace yourself!

    If you are using a bathtub to wash your old towels, here is what you need to do:

    • Fill half the bathtub with hot water
    • Pour in ½ cup of borax
    • Pour in ½ cup of washing soda
    • Pour in 1 cup of laundry detergent
    • You can up to six towels in this mixture and allow the water to cool. This may take up to five hours.
    • You will find a brown, oily liquid left behind in your tub. This is all that came out of your towels! Make sure to rinse the tub properly and get all the water out of your towels.
    • Then, throw your towels into the washing machine before drying them. You can also skip this step and dry them instead, depending on your preference.

    Do not beat yourself up if you find an astonishing amount of gunk coming out of your towels. Mostly, this is a buildup of your detergent or fabric softener so if you want to blame anything, blame those products.


    To ensure that your towels last you a sufficient amount of time, ensure that you are separating dark-colored towels from light-colored ones. Moreover, do not put too many towels in the washer. Remember, towels are made from thick materials that need space to be cleaned.

    Front-loading machines can usually deal with a 12-pound load, which sums up to seven towels. On the other hand, top-loading machines can handle 18 pounds of load, which means that you can deep clean 11 old bath towels in one go.