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

    This might be a silly question, but do you put the vinegar in the top detergent spot and then the baking soda in the next load directly into the basin with the towels?

    1. Kari

      I just got a front loader myself, and so far what I’ve been doing is placing them directly into the washer. I just pour either the vinegar or the baking soda right over the towels, close the door, and start the cycle. I hope this helps and be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Kari

    This seems pretty obvious but I can’t find the answer… do I put the vinegar and baking soda (not at the same time) in the detergent spot or directly in the washer? I have a front loader. Thanks!

    1. Kari

      I just got a front loader myself, and so far what I’ve been doing is placing them directly into the washer. I just pour either the vinegar or the baking soda right over the towels, close the door, and start the cycle. I hope this helps and be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!

  3. Kari

    Once you wash the towels with the vinegar and baking soda…do you wash them again with laundry detergent?

    1. Kari

      I don’t wash mine with detergent until the next time I wash towels. They come out very clean after the vinegar and baking soda, so I don’t worry about it. I hope this helps and be sure and let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Kari

    I am puzzled by the reference to towels smelling – it’s not a problem I’ve ever had.

    Do all those contributing to this routinely dry towels in a tumble drier?

    If yes, there is actually a much simpler solution – dry them on the line – MUCH better for the environment, your pocket and, it would seem, your towels!

    Having said that I am trying this because there is also mention of softening the towels and removing residues (I find our flannels go hard because of soap residue), so I’m interested to see if they are different after I’ve used this method!

    Thanks everyone for your contributions – an interesting read!

    1. Kari

      You’re definitely right about line drying your towels and that’s exactly why you don’t have any smelly problems! I line dry my sheets and all my workout type clothes as well and they always smell amazing and I never have problems with my workout clothes that other people do. However it’s pretty cold here most of the year and line drying towels can be a challenge, so I do put them in the dryer for at least 6 months a year which is why this method is so handy for me when they start to get smelly!

    2. Kari

      Some people do not have the ability to line dry. Or even a washer & dryer at home in some cases and are stuck using the laundromat.

  5. Kari

    I searched for “how to remove fabric softener from towels.” I cannot stand the way it makes my towels feel. I have a long-term guest staying at my house.m who insisted upon using it in spite of my asking for that not to happen. I swear it only happened once, but my towels still feel slick. It reminds me of how Kleenex with lotion feels.
    Do you think this method will work to remove the lingering residue?

    1. Kari

      I definitely think this vinegar and baking soda method would help you out with the fabric softener feel in your towels. Depending on how much they used it may take a couple of washes before it finally comes out. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes, or if you have anymore questions!

  6. Kari

    Do I run the 1st cycle completely through (Wash, rinse, and spin) and then repeat with the added baking soda? Or do I wash with the vinegar and when it’s finished washing do I start the wash cycle over?

    1. Kari

      I just run 1 full cycle for each because it’s the easiest for me, but you could start over once the first wash is done and skip the rinse and spin. I hope this helps and be sure and let me know if you have anymore questions!

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