How to De-Stink Smelly Towels with Baking Soda (2023)

cover towels

Have you ever noticed towels get a funky smell even after you wash them?

It happens a lot and is usually caused by bacteria and detergent build-up. The latter can also harm the fibers of the towel, making them less absorbent.

So you’re left with stinky towels that barely absorb water? No worries!

In this article, I’ll teach you two methods that I like to use to freshen up stinky towels by using baking soda.

Baking soda is a versatile household product that can help you quickly de-stink your towels. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly, and free of toxic chemicals.

I hope that you’ll give these methods a try.

Let’s begin.

The Soak Method

This method involves soaking your towel in water and baking soda for at least 1 hour. This should give the baking soda enough time to deodorize your towel.

What you’ll need:

Baking soda
Laundry basin
Stinky towel

de stink towels what you need


  1. Fill the laundry basin with water. Make sure you have enough water to soak the towel.
  2. Pour 1 cup of baking soda. Stir it a little bit.
  3. Put the towel in the baking soda and water solution. Let it soak for 1-2 hours
  4. Squeeze the towel to remove excess water. 
  5. Throw it in the washer and launder as usual.

The Wash Method

This method is much simpler. You just add a cup of baking soda to the first wash cycle. Then use detergent on the next and launder like usual.

Other Natural Methods for De-Stinking Towels

Here are other methods you can try to de-stink your towels:

Essential oils

  • Choose your preferred essential oil fragrance. Options for deodorizing towels include tea tree, lavender, or lemon oil.
  • Add a few drops of essential oil to the washing machine when you’re washing your towels.
  • Run the machine using the hottest temperature suitable for your towels.
  • After washing, make sure to dry your towels adequately to prevent them from becoming smelly again. You can hang them in a well-ventilated area or use a dryer with a low heat setting.

Lemon juice

  • Fill a large bowl with warm water and squeeze in the juice of a lemon.
  • Submerge your smelly towels in the bowl and let them soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wash the towels in the washing machine with your regular detergent.
  • To prevent your towels from becoming smelly once again, make sure to dry them adequately after washing them. You can choose to hang them in a room with good airflow or use a dryer at a low-temperature setting.


  • Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the washing machine when washing your towels.
  • Use the hottest temperature that’s safe for your towels when running the washing cycle.
  • Properly dry your towels after washing them to prevent them from developing odors again. Either hang them up in a well-ventilated space or use a dryer on a low heat setting to dry them.

6 Tips to Keep Your Towels Fresh

  1. Replace your towels every 1-3 years. Towels are often damp and can be breeding grounds for germs. Even regular washing is not enough to completely clean them. So remember to buy new ones every few years.
  2. Avoid using fabric softeners when washing towels. They leave a slippery residue and can weaken the towel’s absorption.
  3. Check the temperature of the water before washing towels. You don’t always have to go for the hottest setting. Around 40 degrees is the sweet spot and should be hot enough to stop most germs from breeding. Any higher than that may weaken and destroy the fibers.
  4. Keep them in an air-tight bag if you plan on not using them for a long time.
  5. Completely dry them after every wash to avoid bacteria from breeding. Bacteria thrive in damp environments.
  6. Wash them at least once every 2-3 times of use. 3 times max.

Why Do Towels Get Smelly? 

Towels can get smelly due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is bacteria growth, which can occur when towels are left damp for too long. 

Additionally, using too much detergent or fabric softener can leave a residue on towels that can trap odors. Hard water can also contribute to smelly towels, as can not wash towels frequently enough.

How Does Baking Soda Work to De-Stink Towels? 

Baking soda is an effective deodorizer because it neutralizes odors rather than simply masking them. It does this by reacting with acidic compounds in the odors to form a neutral compound, which has no odor. 

Additionally, baking soda has mild abrasive properties that can help to scrub away any residue on towels that may be contributing to the smell.

Why Do My Towels Still Smell After Washing?

There could be several reasons why your towels still smell after washing. Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Overloading the washing machine: If you put too many towels in the washing machine, they may not get thoroughly cleaned. This can leave behind dirt and bacteria, causing your towels to smell.
  2. Using too much detergent: Using too much detergent can leave a residue on your towels, which can cause them to smell bad.
  3. Using fabric softeners: Fabric softeners can leave a coating on your towels, which can trap bacteria and make them smell worse.
  4. Not washing frequently enough: If you don’t wash your towels frequently enough, bacteria can build up and cause them to smell.
  5. Not using hot enough water: To kill bacteria and other microorganisms, it’s important to wash your towels in hot water. If you’re washing your towels in cold water, this could be why they still smell.
  6. Drying the towels improperly: If you don’t dry your towels completely, they can develop a musty smell. It’s important to make sure your towels are completely dry before storing them.

If you’ve tried washing your towels using the proper technique and they still smell, it may be time to replace them with new ones. 

Over time, towels can become less absorbent and more prone to developing odors.


Washing and soaking your towels in water with baking soda are effective and inexpensive ways to deodorize them.

And it’s not just for towels. Baking soda is great for cleaning and deodorizing many things. If you’re looking for more ways to deodorize with baking soda, check out my articles on how to use baking soda to de-stink your pillows and how to remove the pet pee smell with baking soda

Thank you for reading and dropping by my blog.

-Baking Soda Guy


Q: Can I use baking soda on all types of towels? 

A: Baking soda is safe to use on most types of towels, but it’s always a good idea to spot-test a small area first to ensure compatibility.

Q: How frequently should I de-stink my towels using baking soda? 

A: It’s recommended to de-stink your towels with baking soda every 1-2 months or as needed, depending on usage and odor intensity.

Q: Can I use essential oils with baking soda to deodorize my towels? 

A: Yes, essential oils like tea tree, lavender, or lemon oil can be added to the washing machine with baking soda for an extra deodorizing effect.

Q: How can I prevent towels from getting smelly in the first place? 

A: To prevent towel odors, avoid using fabric softeners, wash towels in hot water, dry them completely, and replace them every 1-3 years.

Q: Why do towels sometimes smell even after washing with baking soda? 

A: There could be various reasons, including overloading the washing machine, using too much detergent or fabric softener, not washing frequently enough, or not using hot enough water.

Q: Can I use baking soda on towels with delicate fabrics or embellishments? 

A: For towels with delicate fabrics or embellishments, it’s best to spot-test and use a gentler cleaning method to avoid damage.

Q: Can I use baking soda to de-stink towels with bleach stains? 

A: Baking soda can help with odor, but it may not entirely remove bleach stains. Consider using fabric dye to restore the color.

Q: Can I mix baking soda with other cleaning agents to de-stink towels? 

A: It’s generally not recommended to mix baking soda with other cleaning agents, as it may neutralize their effectiveness or create harmful reactions.

Q: Can I de-stink towels in a front-loading washing machine with baking soda? 

A: Yes, you can use baking soda in a front-loading washing machine. Add it during the wash cycle to deodorize towels effectively.

Q: Can I use baking soda to de-stink towels in hard water areas? 

A: Baking soda is effective in both hard and soft water areas, but you may need to adjust the amount used depending on water hardness.

Q: Is baking soda safe for colored towels? 

A: Baking soda is generally safe for colored towels, but it’s advisable to spot-test first to ensure colorfastness.

Top Photo by Dom J from Pexels