How to keep dish towels fresh and clean!

How to Keep Your Dish Cloths Clean & Fresh!

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Add your own great tips in the comments below! There is nothing worse than stinky kitchen cloths and towels.  Yuck!  However, it is very common for them to get a mildewy or unpleasant smell if they are not kept clean and fresh.   The reason that dish towels often smell is because they are used to dry off our hands, wipe up our spills and messes and just remove grime or food from all around.. They are often not given the proper opportunity or environment to dry.  After they are washed, they may still have a foul or sour smell.

Learn how to refresh your bath towels here

  Towels are made to absorb and that’s just what they do.  However, they can absorb more than just the things that you want them to.  If you want your dish towels, hand towels, bath towels or any other towels to stay odor free then there are some very simple things that you can do:

      • Wash them regularly.  If you do laundry once a week then you need to make sure you change out your cloths at least every couple of days (before they get smelly).
      • Soak them in a bucket of warm water and vinegar for about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon baking soda.  These are both proven odor busters!
      • If your dish cloths/towels are white,  add bleach into the load when you wash them.
      • Wash your towels with hot water.  You can still soak them with warm water and vinegar first but you should also use your hot water setting on your washer.
      • Never leave your towels in the washing machine overnight or for an extended period of time.  Always transfer them straight to the dryer to keep bacteria growth to a minimum.
      • Make sure that you keep your kitchen dry and clean.  Your towels will pick up the smell in the air and from moisture.
      • Always hang up your dish towels to dry between uses.  Never hang towels on top of one another as this will make it difficult for them to dry fully and get air in between.  Let dish cloths dry completely between uses.  If they are still damp, germs, moisture and yucky odors will accumulate.
    • Every month or so, place your towels in a large pot of boiling water for about 5-7 minutes.  This will kill any remaining bacteria (and remove odors!)

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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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    1. Hi Nancy, every washing machine is different so you will want to consult the manual for your specific machine. I hope that helps!

  1. OR wash in Hot water with 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 amount of detergent you normally use. It takes the smell out. DO NOT mix with other cleaners such as bleach, etc.