New Stinky Towels

chefwongAugust 26, 2013

1st time I had stinky towels..

I don't use FS with towels.

The only difference is today, I used Tide HE liquid WITH a dash of Sodium Percarbonate. Towels were line dried.

I've washed towels in both hot and even cold water. No FS, never a stink.

Whaddya guys suspect is the culprit for the smell in these towels. The common/different denominater is the Sodium Percarb..

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chef: Hi, Ok, so I don't see anything unusual about your laundering process. The Sodium Percarbonate helped the detergent to work better by softening the water. Did you happen to notice if there were any suds in the rinse cycle?

Other than that, the only thing I can think of is the weather. If you have high humidity outside, the the towels will take longer to dry and sometimes can actually sour right on the line if not in direct sunlight. I've had that happen in the past. I know it sounds a little far-fetched but my towels smelled clean going on the line and several hours later, they had a "funky" odor to them and still weren't dry. The day was cooler with high humidity and not a whole lot of sun.

Also, check your washer drum and see if there is an odor within the machine itself....drop a line back and post if you figure it out; this one is curious to me.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 9:46AM
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It was sunny and 80+....

Even in cloudy-mild days, I've line dried clothes with no smell whatsover.

Tub is clean and does not smell.
I've never had a *wet* just washed stinky load, so that in itself would be a 1st for me.

I'm going to dump the towels back in, use the same combo + add a touch of Borax and no Percarb. No FS. I'm curious if the Percarb is the issue. That would be the only thing that would have changed in my equation...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 10:07AM
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Are the towels new? Not unusual that some new fabrics (and/or dyes) have an odor.

Or, the presence of odor is a new occurrence but the towels are not new?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Not new towels.

New odor. Only thing *new* in the mix is the Percarb.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 12:15PM
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My guess would be that is the liquid Tide. Liquid Tide, HE or not, struggles to rinse out all the way. Sodium Percarbonate should boost cleaning, not hinder it. I used liquid Tide HE for a while. I have soft water and I struggled to get my rinse water clear. It did not take long for my washer to take on a funky odor. I wash 80 percent of my laundry in hot water, and I never use cold. Once I went back to powdered Tide, all was well in the laundry world.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Thx for the input 1966 but it's not LiquidTide. If that was the case, all my loads would be stinky.. I'm not overdosing nor did I have this problem previously. The only thing that has changed is just the SPercarbonate. That's not to say that is it....

Just need to deduce to the common denominater and figure out what caused it to prevent/mitigate it.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Now this is just strange; Scooby Doo, where are you: we've got a mystery to solve.... Yeah, so just go backwards and see what results you get without the SP. I can't imagine it would be causing the smell but not all things go by "logic" or follow a given rule of thumb. I mean, for example. Some people use Borax to soften their water and get cleaner, softer clothes; if use it, my clothes are so crunchy they feel like they have cement in them.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:01PM
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What sort of Sodium Percarbonate are you using? Like Ecover or Oxyclean, or some your ordered offline?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:42PM
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The sodium percarbonate possibly cleaned your tub and cause a little more calcium and soils to be in your wash water. Most washer cleaners are mainly sodium percarbonate.
If you havent run a clean cycle before try running the washer at the hottest cycle and use a full cup of Sodium Percarbonate (Oxi-Clean) with no clothes. This works for both top load and front load washers.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Straight 100% Sodium Percarb.

FWIW, prior to this towel washing - a couple days prior. I did 4 Sanitize loads . 2 with SPrecarb and another 2 with Citric Acid. All in all, I think each load was about 2:45 minutues long. I did monitor the water during this *9 hr cleaning session* and not much in the water. Just minor suds from the soft water/percarb but that was about it.

So for all intents and purposes, the tub, drum etc is/was clean leading up to the towel washing.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 5:18PM
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@chefwong - FWIW, you are not alone with the towels. Ever since we got our FL washer, our bath towels tend to smell mildewy after they are used and while still damp. They smell great when they come out of the washer, though.

Our old TL water hog washer did a terrible job of rinsing, and my woes with detergent residue are well documented here. The towels never smelled funny.

All I can come up with is that the old detergent residue probably kept mildew from growing in the fibers? Maybe the residue gave it a clean smell, and the cotton fibers just smell bad. I don't know. It is a mystery to me and I try to not think about it, if I can help it.

In the old TL washer days, the towels dried on a normal bathroom towel bar. Now I have them on a laundry drying rack after use and they still smell funky to me, except when they are dry.

Everything else is fine, including kitchen towels and dishcloths, when they are used and damp. It's just the bath towels. Argggghhhh!!!

We use free/clear type detergents, not one drop of fabric softener in the house, I've washed them on HOT, used oxygen bleach, tried vinegar in the fab. softener dispenser, you-name-it., etc.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 6:27PM
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chefwong: "Straight 100% Sodium Percarb"

As a practical matter, that is not possible, unless you live in the Mojave Desert -- and then it is unlikely. Sodium percarbonate is highly hygroscopic, and therefore will not be pure by the time it is delivered to whatever store or warehouse you purchase it from. What brand or source is claiming it to be 100 percent?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:20PM
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It was not a big box brand - oxy, ecover, etc. it was purchased from chemistygoods - hence, I assume/made the statement that it was ~straight sodium precarb~

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 8:09AM
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Have you tried the Percarb on any other loads with the same results? Sodium Percarbonate is activated by hot water. The hotter the water, the better it works. I will admit, this has me stumped. I have never known sodium percarb to leave any scent behind. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have a still have a hunch that the smell is from liquid Tide built up in fabric over time, and the percarb released it from the loops in the towels.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 10:14AM
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I have not gotten around to do any further testing yet.
The towels are my guinea pigs and are the only things I'm willing to sacrifice should the SP do something weird to the clothers/fabric. Hence, the original testing with the towels .....In theory, the SP should not do anything to any fabric, bearing what it does, So to answer the questions, no I have not used the SP with any other load. I might give it a whirl with the kitchen towels...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 4:47PM
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I have found that washing is one thing and deodorizing is another.

Recently, I bought some antique cotton/linen dishtowels on ebay from a seller in France. Purportedly they were new but she said they had been "gently laundered." They came in glassine wrap with lavender sachets in between because they absolutely stunk. It was the mildewy smell of an old stone house.

A hot water wash was didn't deodorize them. What only thing that finally removed the odor completely was a sanitize cycle with a cold prewash with oxiclean and a 2.5 hour hot water (165) wash with Persil -- same thing that previously had removed old sheet smell from some sheets.

Best for that I found is the green liquid Persil detergent for whites followed by the Persil megaperls for whites. Had previously been using Tide HE without good results in that area.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 7:47AM
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Ditto on what rococogurl said.

I once was over at a friend's house and washed two loads of dish towels. Both loads on a 205F cycle but one with and the other without prewash. The load without prewash still smelled after drying. It was like the hot water boiled the smell into the fabric, while the prewash removed most of it before the main wash took place.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 8:29AM
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Is OxiClean Sodium Percarbonate? I find that OxiClean works much better in HOT (heated wash) water. It doesn't dissolve for me in cold water.

I use OxiClean for clean, baking soda for removing odor. It's extremely inexpensive and works like a charm.

I don't use any liquid fabric softener at all in towels because it coats them and reduces their absorbency.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 5:29PM
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mara_2008: "Is OxiClean Sodium Percarbonate?"

OxiClean contains sodium percarbonate. The actual amount is not disclosed, but many estimate it to be 30 percent to 35 percent; the estimates could be wrong. The remainder of the product is inert filler. Factor that into your value calculations.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Yes, 30% is right.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 10:37PM
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Washing soda is one of the other ingredients in OxyClean, but I don't know the percentage.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 9:21PM
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The make up of Oxiclean Sourced from Arm & Hammer parent company. See link

CAS Number Chemical Ingredients % By Wt.
0497-19-8 Sodium carbonate 50-75%
15630-89-4 Sodium percarbonate 30-45%
68002-97-1 Ethoxylated Alcohol C12-C16 1-3%
68479-09-4 Sodium polycarboxylate 1%
06834-92-0 Sodium metasilicate 1%

Here is a link that might be useful: Oxiclean MSDS

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 3:41PM
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I agree with Miele1966 about the liquid Tide. I use Tide VIVID powder on anything potentially smelly like towels, sheets, spouse's whites, etc., because I believe the sodium percarbonate in that particular Tide formula, and hot water, are enough to remove the bacteria that would cause any smell. For me, Tide VIVID powder rinses out very well and the minimal scent remaining after rinsing doesn't bother me. Not sure I would want to add anything to a liquid formula that Tide spent millions in perfecting. Try NOT adding sodium percarbonate to the mix if you must use liquid Tide.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:08PM
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I went back and I think I have it figuered out....

I threw a shower curtin liner in the mix and I never do I wash it seperate. I change the curting out about every 4-5 has a bit of pink mold on the lower 2" of the curtin. I usually just wash this in bleach in the laundry sink.

I believe that is what did it to my towels - mixing it together.

OT, but how do you guys maintain your shower curtin - this curtin get's triple duty with the kids and all.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 2:30PM
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When the bottom of my shower curtain gets moldy, I take it down and wash it with my towels in Tide VIVID powder. Washing it in chlorine bleach would just make it stiff and yellow and stinky. If you wanted to wash it in liquid detergent, you could add sodium percarbonate, which is hydrogen peroxide. It cleans and disinfects better than chlorine bleach. You could use OxiClean alone if you wanted to, or add it to your detergent, but it has more than sodium percarbonate in it. Or you could use Ecover pure oxygen bleach with your liquid detergent. Or you could use a cup of hydrogen peroxide with your liquid bleach. Some people cut the hem off the bottom of the shower curtain to prevent mildew/mold buildup. I think I'm going to do that.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 12:45AM
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I never had stinky towels.
I wash them regularly and put them in the dryer.

I think you should dry them completely before folding them so they don't catch mold.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 5:16AM
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