Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stinky Laundry? Fix it! - Sis 1


I have been the recipient of a lot of wonderful hospitality in my years, and I'm always thankful to have a nice place to stay, good food and great company when I visit family in far-away places.

But I have to admit that I'm not always so thankful to have a towel to dry off with. There have been numerous times that I have gotten out of a nice shower, hopefully smelling good, and dried off with a towel that reeked of mildew.

A couple of times, I have even babysat a baby who was very fortunately super cute, because I almost couldn't stand to hold her if it hadn't been for that. She smelled (because of her clothes) just like a rotten dish rag.

My husband is not always terribly tactful and has told people that their towels stink, and he usually gets a reply like, "My towels don't stink!" So, you may not know it if your laundry smells horrible. Don't be offended. Just assume that if you are not actively preventing mildewy towels, your towels are stinky. And just washing and drying doesn't count.

If your towels are white, you're in luck. You can use bleach to kill mildew. Always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If your towels are colored, you are still in luck. You can use ammonia to kill mildew. Again, always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If you have a high efficiency washer (HE), you put the ammonia in the little section for bleach* and the vinegar in the section for liquid fabric softener. If you have been blissfully unaware of your stench for a long time, you may need to soak the towels in ammonia water for a few hours, which will require a bucket, sink or tub unless you have a top loader.

For white towels, drying outside also helps, but for colors, you will probably see some fading.


I have been faithfully working out for several months now, but in just the last month and a half, I have really stepped up the intensity of my workouts. I have been soaking my (and my husband's) workout clothes in ammonia water  before running the wash cycle. In the past that has always seemed to work, but this morning, when I put on my newly washed exercise shirt, I noticed that I already smelled like a gym rat. (I left it on to go walking and smelled awful--sorry ladies!--but when I got home, I decided to fix that problem, too.)

Here's the simple solution: Get pet urine remover. I got mine from DollarTree. Spray on stinky clothes, making sure to saturate the extra-stinky spots (armpits for me). Wad the clothes into a ball and squeeze tightly several times to make sure the spray is getting into the fibers. Let sit at least 10 minutes. An hour is better. Launder as usual.


A couple of years ago, my favorite black suede (leather) jacket spent a weekend at a chain-smoker's house. When I retrieved it, I thought I was going to die. It had soaked in the smoke and I could hardly breathe, just wearing it. I took it outside and febreezed it, letting it hang in the shade (I didn't want it to fade) for several days. No luck. Then I googled and decided to try freezing it. I stuck it in my freezer for a day and then got it out and let it thaw in the shade. Again, no luck. I was afraid I was just going to have to throw my poor jacket away.

Since I was faced with the prospect of trashing it anyway, I decided I would (gasp) wash it. I used cold water and detergent, plus a good amount of baking soda. That helped, but the smell was still there. So I washed it again, this time with a lot of vinegar (love the stuff!). That did the trick! And, after drying it, in the dryer on low heat, my jacket was just as soft and supple as ever, had not shrunk a bit and smelled good. Yay!

*NEVER mix ammonia and clorox (chlorine). The fumes could kill you. Ammonia and vinegar are fine. Clorox and vinegar are fine. Baking soda and Borax are fine with either one. But DON'T mix them. If you are going to put ammonia in your bleach compartment, rinse it with water first.

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