Recharge Your Towels

Recharge Your Towels | Get Inspired Everyday!

How to Recharge Your Towels will banish smelly towels forever! This method works well for everything from towels to workout clothes.

Recharge Your Towels | Get Inspired Everyday!

I first came across this idea on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it! There comes a point in the life of every towel when it’s just not smelling quite right. No matter how much Clorox for colors I’ve used, there was still an ‘off’ smell.

(My latest updated tips for this method are located at the end of the post.)

To the best of my knowledge, the original source for this method is Wikihow. But it’s really hard to figure out where these ideas originate!

‘Recharging’ your towels with vinegar and baking soda is right up my alley because they’re my two favorite household cleaners.

Recharge Your Towels | Get Inspired Everyday!

It’s a really simple process:

1. Wash your towels with hot water and 1 cup of white vinegar, (don’t use any detergents or fabric softeners).

2. Run the towels through a second wash with 1/2 cup baking soda and hot water, (again, no detergent or fabric softener).

3. Dry your towels on the hottest setting until thoroughly dry. You can also hang them outside in the sun for additional freshening.

If the ‘off’ smell persists, run through this method again. This time use 2 cups of vinegar and let the towels soak in the hot water/vinegar bath for a few hours before continuing with the process.

Recharge Your Towels | Get Inspired Everyday!

Both vinegar and baking soda ‘strip’ the soap and fabric softener residue from your towels. Fabric softener in particular coats the fibers of your towels with chemical oils, making it difficult to get your towels truly clean. Vinegar not only strips residue, but it also acts as a fabric softener and it’s so much cheaper.

I’m really pleased with the results of washing my towels this way. They smell great, and as a bonus they’re also much softer!

One final note:

Do not mix the vinegar and baking soda in the same load because the two together cause a chemical reaction that foams which might cause your washing machine to overflow! Even though I’m a big fan of ‘two for one’, but in this case there are no shortcuts. Luckily the washing machine does all the work! I’ve personally added both to a top loader machine and not had problems with overflowing, (I have heard of of other people having a foaming overflow though, so maybe that happens with front loaders?) But this method does work best when you wash first with vinegar, then run a second time with the baking soda.

New Notes:

I originally wrote this 5 years ago now, and it’s still one of the most popular posts on the blog! So I figured it was a good time for a bit of an update since I’m still using this method 5 years later.

  1. The first thing I’d like to add is, if your towels are extra smelly, you might need to repeat this process until they smell fresh again! I’ve had this happen a few times with extra stubborn smelly towels.
  2. Another thing that really helps eliminate smelly towels/clothes is sunshine. So a couple times a year, I’ll wash my towels with this vinegar then baking soda method, then hang them outside until they’re almost dry. Then they get a quick fluff in the dryer to soften them back up. And let me tell you what, that works magic on smelly towels or clothes.
  3. And finally, this method works wonders on workout clothes that shouldn’t go in the dryer, (or even socks if they get smelly). I’ve also started hanging all our workout gear outside to dry because they don’t tend to grow that smelly bacteria if they dry quicker. This even works in the winter, you can hang your workout clothes outside and they will freeze dry most the way. I’ll hang mine outside before work, then bring them in at the end of the day to finish drying inside. Even if you don’t want/can’t hang your clothes outside, you can still fix the smelly issue with this vinegar/baking soda method.

81 Comments on “Recharge Your Towels”

  1. Kari

    I don’t have hot water function in my washing machine. In such case, there was an instruction I found online, as follow:
    “Let your towels soak in hot water with the vinegar and baking soda for 30 minutes. Once the time is up, scrub them, and let them soak for thirty more minutes.”

    Could please you confirm and clarify on that method? Or if you like to suggest a better one? Thanks!

    1. Kari

      I’m not sure about the the method you mentioned as I haven’t tried it myself, but you could try heating water on the stove to add to your washing machine, but be careful not to add too hot of water to anything plastic the might melt/or warp. I hope this helps some and you can always try this with whatever temperature of water you washing machine does!

  2. Kari

    This works like magic! I was a little skeptical at first but I’m a true believer in the power of vinegar and baking soda now. I was about to throw away 4 towels because of the awful smell. They smell brand new, it’s amazing. Thank you thank you thank you, you have helped me saved a good chunk of money!

    1. Kari

      It’s so amazing isn’t is!?! I couldn’t believe it myself when my towels smelled brand new, and I love how soft and fluffy it makes them!

  3. Kari

    OMG. Thanks for this post. My towels are much softer.
    Yesterday I thought I’d try the method out on a towel that the cat urinated on. Normally nothing gets that smell out. It’s worked wonders!!!!! I wish I’d known this when we had the last mouse plague! Oh the money I could have saved!!! I’m already sharing the method with others.

    1. Kari

      I’m so glad to hear it’s been working for you! It’s definitely worked wonders on my towels, they’re always nice and fresh since I started doing this!

      1. Kari

        Hi! Lovely post. Do you recommend soaking towels in a vinegar or baking soda solution in the bathtub as an alternative to the washing machine? I live in a major city and unfortunately don’t have access to my own washer and dryer, and I think my local laundromat would raise a stink (no pun intended) if I poured vinegar or baking soda in the washing machines.

        1. Kari

          I could see where they might take issue with vinegar and baking soda! You could soak them in the bathtub, I have done that for a few things in the past, but the biggest challenge is getting it all wrung out. And then from there I’m guessing you’ll need to figure out how to transport your wet towels to the place where you do laundry. It will definitely work though if you’re up for some extra work!

  4. Kari

    This method works great! I do it twice a year. And it IS a lot cheaper than going out and buying new towels.

  5. Kari

    OMG, the waste of electricity, the waste of water, uneccesary bills on baking sofa and vinegar. Easy solution guys. Cut up your older towels, use them as rags and soak them in eucalyptus based Hospital grade cleaner overnight. Then buy new fluffy towels. Bingo, it’s not Rocket science.

    1. Kari

      This is a rescue for perfectly good towels that you don’t want to cut up, it just helps to naturally clear out any bacterial buildup and is especially good for those with sensitive skin/allergies that cannot tolerate a hospital grade cleaner!

    2. Kari

      “Unnecessary bills on baking soda and vinegar”? Really??? Those are two incredibly inexpensive items (literally a few of dollars each)…..and the article isn’t talking about old towels that are ready to be tossed out, so the expense and waste you’re referring to would be purchasing new towels every time they get smelly or dingy.

      1. Kari

        Thank you Kat, I really appreciate it! I know he was also referring to extra water usage which is a problem for some, but overall I’ve found this method to be invaluable rather than having to toss out perfectly good towels every time they start getting smelly!

  6. Kari

    I am curious about the water. We have hard water. Will this still work as well? Also, do you use dryer sheets on your towels? or after having done all this, do you use fabric softener until you do this method again?

    1. Kari

      It will work just fine, we have hard water too! I personally don’t use dryer sheets at all with any of my laundry as both my husband and I are allergic to synthetic fragrances. My towels come out perfectly soft and fluffy without fabric softener of any kind, but that will also depend on the type of blend your towels are made of. Also vinegar does act as a fabric softer as well. I hope this helps and be sure and let me know if you have anymore questions!

    2. Kari

      Do you run a full wash rinse cycle with both the vinegar and baking soda? Or just soak with the vinegar and a wash rinse cycle with baking soda? I do the latter and sometimes add another cycle using detergent because I like the fragrance. Thanks for the original info because it just works and my old towels never smelled so good!

      1. Kari

        One tip I do need to add is I always wash my towels now with just a touch of vinegar along with the detergent and I’ve found they don’t tend to get smelly as easily.

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