Why Are My Towels So Foul?

Let me get this straight: To clean a towel, it’s put into a machine full of water and soap and swished around 40 minutes. Then, it’s put into another machine where it’s dried for another 40 minutes. At the end of this, the towel is fresh and clean.

A little more: When I shower, I use water and soap. I used the towel to dry off, then promptly hang it in the bathroom where it’s left to dry. Hours later, the towel smells like it was used to clean the lower deck of a pirate ship.

What went wrong?

I shower a good two times per day. It’s my way of staying clean and wasting the local water supply. Plus, each shower is warranted. Shower No. 1 acts as a wake-up call, where Shower No. 2 follows a gym workout. My showers are purposeful — not Patrick Bateman-purposeful, but of necessity. I need them. And you should be happy I take them.

My towels are not happy, though. My towels have become foul. You’re probably thinking, “Well, it’s probably mildew.” Mil-don’t. That makes no sense and I won’t have any of it. Keep your fancy science to yourself, nerd.

This problem — through no fault of my own — goes back to my freshman year in the dorms. Laundry costed about $10, but so did a 12-pack of Rolling Rock. I kept four towels in rotation, and if I used each towel for a week, I could save my laundry until I made a trip back home where it was free.

For each towel, fourteen uses before it hits the laundry machine. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Reasonable to me, anyway, but I’ve met people who change bed sheets every few days. Not I. I’ve never owned more than one pair of bed sheets. That’s not my definition of luxury.

Luxury, to me, would be towels that were indiscriminate about how and when they were coming in contact with water and soap. I want my towels to take on some of the same properties as, say, baking soda. Baking soda could spend its lifetime in a fridge full of rotting leftovers and do nothing but freshen the fridge up. Baking soda wouldn’t take on the odor itself. Rather, baking soda would benefit the fridge with its presence alone. High five, baking soda.

Here’s what’s not going to happen:

  1. I will shower less.
  2. I will wash my towels more frequently.

Here’s what may need to happen:

  1. I need to buy better towels.
  2. I need to study this “mildew” nonsense.

I realize this is one of those dirty, little facts we generally keep to ourselves. However, I can’t imagine I’m alone on this one. Under the cloak of anonymity, please tell me your towel-washing timetable. Is mine completely wrong?

9 thoughts on “Why Are My Towels So Foul?

  1. I love the crackhead towel from South Park image. I wash towels bi-weekly and mine normally do not smell. However, I know that once they start smelling, they’re terrible. Are you hanging them up nicely? That’s all I got for you.

    • Additionally, upon watching the American Psycho clip, I promptly got sucked into the YouTube vortex and spent the next hour and a half watching clips of the movie. I may never have to see the entire move now that I’ve seen all those clips.

  2. I just love any reference to American Psycho; I am innapropriately fond of that book (and to a lesser extent the film).

    And I have no idea what the deal is with towels. I can’t win either, on that front.

  3. It’s the crappy towels, probably not made of Cotten. We’ll get new ones as long as you stop hanging them next to mine. Don’t take it personally, I let you sleep next to me, but keep your towels to their own rack.

  4. Andrew, I will be forever grateful if this is the biggest problem you face in life.
    Try 1/2 c. of baking soda in very hot water. Soak for at least an hour. Don’t crowd the towels, wash and dry as usual. Or try 1/2 C. white vinegar in the rinse. You may have to repeat the process.
    If all of the above fails, I’ll get you some new ones for your birthday.

  5. My brother and father have the same stinky towel problem but I don’t. Genetics? Luck? Fate? It could be any one of these…

  6. 14 uses is absolutely correct, but after each use they must be hung over the shower spread out, with the only crease being in the middle where the towel folds over the top of the shower. Any other creases or crinkles will trap moisture and produce foulness. Trust me, I am a great towel mind.

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