Tips to Clean Smelly Kitchen Towels & Tea Towels

Kitchen towels and tea towels are essential in maintaining clean kitchen surfaces. However, over time, it is not unusual for them to start having an unpleasing odor, especially if you do not wash them regularly. For that reason, you may want to know how to clean smelly kitchen towels in order to maintain a fresh and hygienic environment in your cooking area.

Types of kitchen towels

People often think that any cloth that is used for tasks in the kitchen can be considered a kitchen towel, but in fact, there are many different types of them, and all are suited for different tasks. The use of a kitchen towel determines how it should be stored and how often it needs to be cleaned, so let’s clarify first what is the difference between kitchen and tea towels and dishcloths.

blue white kitchen towel on cutting board

Kitchen towels

Such towels are meant for absorption and tasks mainly in the kitchen. The primary materials used to make kitchen towels are linen, terrycloth, and cotton. Some of the main tasks you can use a kitchen towel include drying hands, wiping up liquid spills, and drying dishes.

Tea towels

Tea towels are made using soft, thin linen fabric. They were used mainly as décor because of the intricate designs embroidered on them. However, you can also use them to polish, and dry your fragile dishes, or as tray liners when serving tea or coffee, or hot dishes.

tea towel under a baking pot

Dish towels

Unlike kitchen and tea towels, dishcloths are primarily used to clean and dry dishes. You can also find them in different materials, but I recommend choosing odor-free dishcloths so you can stop worrying about odors.

dish cloths and kitchen towels

Since such clothes get contact with grease and food particles the most, you should disinfect them more frequently and keep them separate from the other towels

Why do my kitchen towels smell?

Towels are designed to be absorbent, and that could make them absorb even the things you don’t want them to absorb. The most common reason why they get stinky is that you use them to wipe off your hands, food and liquid spills, and any other type of grime around the kitchen.

kitchen towel left in a pot

If you do not wash them immediately, all those materials on the towel could lead to the growth of bacteria, resulting in unpleasant odors. The smell and bacteria will not only remain on the towel, but you may transfer them to all the surfaces you wipe, increasing the risk of infections. To keep your kitchen smelling fresh, regularly changing and cleaning your kitchen clothes is essential.

How to clean smelly kitchen towels

There are several methods to get the stinky smell out of our kitchen towels. You can use commercial products and natural ones, but first, start with the most important thing and discuss what temperature to wash kitchen towels.

Whatever method you choose to remove the odor, ensure that you use the hottest temperature suggested on the fabric care label. The hotter the water, the more effective the removal of odors as well as bacteria.

Wash them in bleach

Most of us love using white fabrics as they make the kitchen look modern, clean, and hygienic. However, they are more prone to stains and dirt, but bleach helps to renew your greasy kitchen towels and stop odors by killing any bacteria on them.

While you may think of soaking your white tea towels in bleach, you should not. Instead, fill your washing machine with water depending on how many towels you want to clean. Add a small amount of bleach according to the directions on the packaging to avoid damaging the towels. To help mix the bleach thoroughly with the water, let the washing machine agitate for some time, then add your towels to the mix.

Use detergent

One of the best laundry detergents for kitchen towels is OxiClean. Unlike bleach, it preserves the colors and doesn’t leave a strong smell.

drying kitchen towels

The most effective is when your pre-soak the clothes in warm water before washing: add hot water into a bucket and add the detergent. Next, add the towels and let them soak for a few hours. Remove them from the detergent mixture and wash them in the washing machine through a hot washing cycle.

Soak them in vinegar and baking soda mix

Some of us prefer to use natural methods to help preserve the environment. Soaking tea towels in vinegar is one of the most common and most effective natural ways to clean your kitchen cloths and get rid of bad kitchen smells.

Start by adding hot water into a bucket and add a cup of vinegar. If you have more towels, you can add more vinegar for more effective results. Add the towels into the mixture, sprinkle some baking soda on them, and let the towels soak for a few hours. Finally, remove them and wash them in the washing machine on a hot cycle.

Whatever method you choose, you can repeat the process a second time or run the towels through another wash in the machine if the odor is still present. It is also essential that you hang the towels immediately after washing them to prevent bacteria regrowth. Also, to keep your kitchen towels from smelling, let them fully dry after every use. If it’s impossible to clean your smelly tea towels, consider getting new ones due to hygienic and aesthetical reasons.

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