How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels - Causes & 8 Solutions

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels - Causes & 8 Solutions

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels - Causes & 8 Solutions

Rory Donnelly


April 28 2023

The mildew smell in towels isn't something new. But did you know that it can be hazardous to your health?

The FEMA reports that mildew can be the reason behind several respiratory problems like sinus and nasal congestion, nose, eyes and throat irritation, wheezing, and headaches. And if you don’t take care of the mildew growth on your towels, these problems may worsen.

But don't worry, in this blog, we'll give you eight best tips that work best on how to get mildew smell out of towels and in the end, we'll even tell you how to prevent mildew formation on your towels altogether.

What Causes Mildew Smell in Towels?

The combined growth of bacteria and mould on the towel allows a mildew smell to occur, and getting the mildew smell out of towels is a huge hassle. Before we dive into how to get mildew smell out of towels, let's first look at the several causes of this, including:

  • Left Damp: Since bath towels are made to be absorbent, they have a thick material that will take longer to dry. And when you fold your laundry, you might put it away with other clothes, leaving it slightly damp. This dampness becomes a ground that harbours mildew.
  • Too Much Fabric Softener or Detergent: A build-up of fabric softener or laundry detergent can also cause your towels to get mildew on them.
  • Unclean Washing Machine: In some cases, the washing machine itself becomes the cause of mildew production because of too much water sitting down, dirty gasket, and excess laundry products.
  • Fragrance or Oil: Another reason your towel has become a breeding ground for mildew is using laundry products with oils or fragrances that may leave a residue on the towel, trapping moisture and creating an environment for mildew production.

How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels

Mildew in the towel is a common occurrence, but getting the mildew smell out of your towels is not difficult. With the below tips and tricks, you can eliminate the mildew smell out of towels:

  1. Develop a Wash Routine

    The first step to getting the mildew smell out of towels is adopting a wash routine. We can't stress it enough, but washing your towel is extremely important for it to stay clean and void of mildew.

    Experts recommend washing your towels every three days to make sure there's no build-up of mildew or other microorganisms that be the leading cause of illnesses. And post-washing, hang them up for drying to get the mildew smell out of towels.

  2. Keep it Under Natural Sunlight

    The next best thing you can do is allow your towels to dry in natural sunlight. Since bath towels are meant to be highly absorbent, they are often thicker than other clothes. Drying them in the dryer with other laundry may prevent them from drying off completely. Hence, it's best to hang them out in the sunlight.

    The sun rays are known to have a natural antibacterial effect, keeping mildew smell out of towels and even removing stains from them.

  3. Add Vinegar

    Before you wash your towel, make sure to add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in the washing machine. It can help dissolve mildew build-up, along with softening the fabrics. Never use bleach and vinegar together as they create dangerous fumes.

  4. Wash with Baking Soda

    Baking soda has the potential to neutralise the mildew smell out of your towels and even soften them. Add half a cup to your laundry routine.

  5. Add Borax

    Borax is another common solution found in households that can help get the mildew smell out of towels by acting as a detergent booster. It softens the water and disinfects the towels while also removing any stains off its surface, just add half a cup of Borax to your regular laundry.

  6. Use Hot Water

    If you are used to doing your laundry in cold water, you may want to try hot water for washing your towels. Hot water helps reduce mildew and bacteria and can sanitise better than cold water. It may also help break down laundry additives, making it easier to prevent any residue build-up caused by detergents and fabric softeners.

  7. Use Tea Tree Oil

    Another effective method to eliminate the mildew smell out of your towel is using tea tree oil. It helps neutralise the surface against mildew, bacteria, fungus, and mould and keeps odours away from the surface.

    Add five to ten drops of tea tree oil to your washing machine and the detergent. Wash the towel in hot water and let it tumble dry on low.

  8. Clean Your Washing Machine

    Lastly, there are chances that your washing machine might be the culprit behind the constant mildew smell coming from your towels. If you have tried everything suggested above and are still facing the issue of mildew, the possibilities are that mildew may have built-up on the doors or gaskets of the machine.

    Make sure to clean the inside of your machine at least once every six months with white vinegar and a microfibre cloth. Ensure the rubber gasket in the front of the machine is thoroughly cleaned, as that's where hair and soap residue get collected the most. Another thing you can do is throw a machine tablet inside the empty machine drum and run a hot water cleaning cycle.

How Copper Helps in Preventing Mildew on Towels?

These eight tips are great to get rid of the mildew smell of your towels, but did you know that you can indeed prevent the smell before it can even touch the surface of your towel? Yes, copper has been shown to contain antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. And when impregnated in fabrics, it helps reduce and prevent the growth of mildew, mould, and bacteria on its surface.

The best step of care to take to get rid of the mildew smell out of towels is to prevent its build-up altogether. Copper Clothing's Copper-Infused Bath Towels help create an environment that's hostile to mould, bacteria, and other microbes and, ultimately, prevent the growth of mildew smell and other foul odours.

In addition to this, the copper ions in your bath towels are known to be more long-lasting and durable. Hence, you don't have to invest in a new towel for long as copper maintains the freshness and cleanliness of the fabric for longer!


  1. Is mildew smell harmful?

    Yes, according to FEMA, mildew impacts your health and gives you respiratory problems such as sinus and nasal congestion, nose, eyes and throat irritation, wheezing, and headaches.

  2. Can mildew clothes make you sick?

    Yes, the formation of mildew on clothes may lead to your skin breaking out in rashes or hives and turn your eyes watery and red. Further, inhaling mildew can cause nasal problems like sneezing, congestion, nose bleeding, and throat irritation.

  3. Why do my towels smell like mildew after I wash them?

    If your towels smell like mildew even after washing them, try to clean your washing machine from the inside with a microfibre cloth and white vinegar, as there are chances of mildew forming inside.

  4. Will baking soda get the mildew smell out of towels?

    Yes, adding half a cup of baking soda to your laundry can help get rid of the mildew smell out of towels.

  5. How long does it take for towels to form mildew?

    Mildew can be formed on towels within 24 to 48 hours of moisture exposure. It may continue to grow if you don't dry your towels out properly.

  6. Does mildew spread to other clothes?

    Yes, mildew can spread and contaminate other clothes. So, it's wiser not to wash your mildew-affected towel with other clothing in the same laundry round.

  7. Is mildew a fungus?

    Mildew is a type of fungus or mould found on surfaces where moisture stays trapped.

  8. How often should you change your towel?

    It's necessary to change your towels once they start producing an odour that doesn’t go away even after washing, lose their absorbency, have frayed edges, and become too scratchy on your skin.

  9. How often should you wash your towel?

    Experts say that it's ideal to wash your towel after every three uses to save yourself from infections, aggravated skin conditions, and the spread of bacteria.

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