You just got out of the shower, and you’re about to dry off with your towel when you notice an unpleasant smell. Your towel smells like onions, garlic, or ginger. Now you’re wondering why this is happening and how to get rid of the smell.
Not only is it unpleasant to have a smelly towel, but it can also be embarrassing if other people can smell it too. If you don’t want to keep washing your towels over and over again, you need to find a way to get rid of the smell.
In this article, we’ll give you some reasons why your towel might smell like onions, garlic, or ginger. We’ll also provide some tips on how to get rid of the smell so that you can enjoy using your towel again.
- Why does a towel smell like onions, garlic, or ginger?
- Reasons why towels can start to smell of onions, garlic, or ginger
- 1. Bacteria and germs on towels
- 2. Fibres from plants and vegetables
- 3. Sweat from apocrine sweat glands
- 4. Soap residue from washing clothes
- 5. Bacteria and germs from laundry detergent
- 6. Bathroom odors
- 7. Fabric softener residue
- 8. Sulfur from hot water
- 9. Minerals from water
- 10. Fruit, vegetable, and body odor from cooking
- How to get rid of the onion, garlic, or ginger smell from your towel
- What you should know about keeping towels smelling fresh
- Are there any products that can be used to deodorize my towels?
- Could my body odor be the cause of my towels smelling?
- Is it possible that laundry detergent is causing my towels to smell?
- Could the water heater in my home be the cause of towel odors?
- Is it possible that bacteria is causing my towels to smell?
- Could bacteria growth on my towels be the cause of the odor?
- How do you get the onion smell out of towels?
- What does it mean when you smell like onions?
- Why do my towels smell after using them?
Why does a towel smell like onions, garlic, or ginger?
The smell of onions, garlic, or ginger on a towel can be caused by a number of different factors. Firstly, bacteria and other microorganisms can form on moist towels and give off an unpleasant odour. Secondly, towels can also absorb smells from their environment, such as the smell of onions or garlic.
Finally, stagnant water stuck in the heater can give off an odour resembling onions if it is not used for a long period of time. To avoid towels smelling like onions or garlic, it is important to identify the source of the smell and take measures to prevent it, such as running the heater for a few minutes before showering or ensuring that the towels are completely dry before storing them.
Reasons why towels can start to smell of onions, garlic, or ginger
1. Bacteria and germs on towels
Towels are a common source of bacteria and germs due to the typically dark and moist environment in which they are situated. Common bacteria found on towels include Staphylococcus (which can cause skin infections), Pseudomonas (which can cause respiratory infections), and Escherichia coli (which can cause food poisoning). Fungal organisms, such as Aspergillus species and Cladosporium species, which can cause respiratory problems, can also be found on damp towels. All of these microbes can give off unpleasant odors, such as those resembling onions and garlic. These odors signify that the towel is unclean and should be washed to prevent the spread of germs.
2. Fibres from plants and vegetables
Towels that smell of onions, garlic, or ginger are likely made of natural fibres such as cotton, linen, or hemp. These fibres contain natural oils, which can be released when heated, causing the towels to give off an onion, garlic, or ginger aroma.
When the towels are washed, the natural oils are not removed and will continue to give off a strong scent when heated for drying. To avoid this, it is important to use a mild detergent when washing the towels, so as not to accumulate any soap residues which can further trap these odours.
3. Sweat from apocrine sweat glands
When apocrine glands produce lipid-rich sweat, it mixes with bacteria on the skin to create thioalcohols, which emit an odor similar to sulfur, onions, or raw meat. This breakdown process has the potential to cause towels to start to smell apocrine sweat.
Factors that increase the risk of this occurring include damp skin, which is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and conditions like hyperhidrosis that lead to excessive sweating. To reduce the risk of towels smelling of apocrine sweat, it is important to regularly cleanse and exfoliate the skin, and treat conditions like hyperhidrosis to reduce excessive sweat.
4. Soap residue from washing clothes
Soap residue can take on a pungent smell of onions, garlic, or ginger when detergents are not rinsed out of clothes properly or when too much detergent is used. When this happens, detergent residues build up on clothes and attract dirt and bacteria, resulting in the stinky laundry.
This buildup can be caused by using too much detergent in a load or by not rinsing the clothes out properly in a washing machine. In addition, fabric softeners contain oils that can trap detergent residue, dirt, mildew, mold, and bacteria and create a smelly laundry.
Lastly, a dirty washing machine may also breed bacteria and contribute to stinky laundry. To avoid these issues, it is important to use the right amount of detergent per load size, rinse clothes properly, and keep the washing machine clean.
5. Bacteria and germs from laundry detergent
Using too much laundry detergent or fabric softener can cause bacteria and germs to accumulate on towels. This can lead to unpleasant odors, as the bacteria and germs can grow and multiply in the moist environment created by the detergent and fabric softener.
The oils in the fabric softener can also trap detergent residue, dirt, mildew, mold, and bacteria, making it difficult to rinse the detergent out completely. This can result in stinky laundry, as the detergent residue will attract dirt and bacteria.
Furthermore, a dirty laundry machine can cause bacteria and germs to be transferred to towels, leading to smelly clothes. To avoid this, it is important to use the right amount of detergent and to clean your laundry machine regularly.
6. Bathroom odors
Some of the causes of unpleasant odors in the bathroom include blocked drainage, damp towels, microbial growth, and clogged drains from a buildup of dirt, hair, water minerals, wax, and fats from soaps. Other less likely but possible causes could be a buildup of unpleasant odors from other areas in the home, such as the kitchen or dining room, which are absorbed by the towels.
7. Fabric softener residue
Fabric softener residue is a result of using too much fabric softener, which can leave a residue on towels that can trap dirt and bacteria, resulting in a musty, sour smell. The oily coating from the fabric softener prevents the towels from being absorbent, as well as trapping detergent, mildew, mold, and bacteria. This buildup of residue on the towels can cause them to smell of onions, garlic, or ginger.
To help prevent this, it is important to use the correct amount of detergent, avoid using fabric softeners, and hang the towels up to dry after use. Additionally, adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle can help to naturally soften the towels while also preventing buildup and eliminating static.
8. Sulfur from hot water
Using hot water, sulfur is produced which can have an effect on towels. This sulfur can be transferred to the towels and cause them to smell bad. The bacteria present in sweat will break down and form thioalcohols which have a scent similar to sulfur, onions, and meat.
This smell will be further increased when taking a hot shower and the towel will absorb this pungent smell. This is why the smell of the towels will be more noticeable when the colder days come and the need to use the water heater increases.
In addition, if the heater’s anode rod made of metal is corroded, then an unpleasant odor could develop and be transferred to the water. This may also lead to the towels being impregnated with a bad smell.
9. Minerals from water
Minerals in the water can cause towels to smell of onions, garlic, or ginger. This is because minerals in the water can work together with other culprits such as hair, dirt, and certain soap ingredients like wax and fats to clog your shower drain.
This can lead to the formation of various odors, as the microbes grow uncontrollably in the clogged drain. The smell is also caused by mildew, which needs moisture to survive, and its spores which can disperse in the air unnoticed. Sometimes the smell of onions, garlic, or ginger is caused by bacteria that break down sweat and form products called thioalcohols which produce a very pungent smell.
To prevent this issue, make sure that every drain in your bathroom is in excellent condition, and measure the amount of detergent you use. You can also invest in a measuring cup or switch to capsules, and choose fragranced detergents or add fabric conditioner to make your clothes smell fresher for longer.
For an all-for-one solution, you can use Mizu towels to minimize 99 percent of mildew growth.
10. Fruit, vegetable, and body odor from cooking
The odors associated with cooking are often pungent and can include garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables, and red meat. These odors can be caused by the breakdown of sweat and bacteria, as well as the byproducts of these pungent foods when they are cooked.
Towels can start to smell these odors due to the combination of their dampness, dark and moist environment, and the growth of odor-causing germs. Furthermore, if someone with a body odor is using the same towel, the odor can be transferred onto the towel.
How to get rid of the onion, garlic, or ginger smell from your towel
Determine the cause of the smell
- Inspect the towel for any visible evidence of food particles, such as bits of onion, garlic, or ginger.
- Determine if the smell is coming from the towel itself, or if it is coming from the washing machine or dryer.
- Check the washing machine or dryer for any food particles that might have been left in the drum after the last load.
- Take the towel to a professional cleaner to determine if the smell is coming from the fabric itself.
Wash with vinegar
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Wash Your Towels with Vinegar to Get Rid of the Onion, Garlic, or Ginger Smell:
- Place your towels in the washing machine with 1 cup of white vinegar. Start a wash cycle on the hottest water setting your machine offers.
- When you hit the rinse cycle, add half a cup of baking soda, and run as normal.
- Remove your towels, and dry them thoroughly on the line or in the dryer.
- Once your washer is clean, keep it that way. When you’re done running a load of laundry, leave your washer door open so it can air out.
- Run your towels through a regular cycle with very warm or hot water, your regular detergent, and 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar as a natural fabric softener for the rinse cycle.
Air dry completely
Allow your towel to air-dry fully off the floor. Dampness is the number one culprit of musty odors, so make sure to hang it on a towel rack to maximize air circulation. Never leave it on the floor or in a hamper to dry.
Make sure clothes are completely dry before you take them off the line or out of the tumble dryer. Select ‘Extra Dry’ on your dryer if you’re worried about dampness and shrinkage. If you need to iron clothes while they’re still damp, do it straight away, rather than leaving your ironing pile to mount up.
Hang your towels rather than folding them to allow air to circulate around them. If you do need to fold them, try not to stuff your drawers to overflowing.
Use less laundry detergent
- Make sure you check the detergent packet or bottle for dosing instructions. If you have a larger machine, you may need to add a bit more soap powder or liquid, and if you’re only washing a light load, you might not need as much detergent.
- Use a laundry detergent with a citrus smell, or add one cup of baking soda.
- Consider switching to a more powerful detergent. If your clothes need washing at 30ºC or 40ºC degrees, it’s worth switching to a detergent that’s designed for lower temperatures.
Use warm water to wash your clothes
Using warm water to wash towels is beneficial as it helps loosen dirt, bacteria, and other debris from the fibers. The heat also helps the detergent and fabric softener penetrate into the fibers, making it easier to clean the towel.
Furthermore, warm water helps break down any soap or fabric softener residue that has built up on the towel, thus preventing odors and increasing the absorbency of the towel. Additionally, warm water helps kill germs, which is important for towels that are used frequently.
Let your clothes dry naturally
To get rid of the onion, garlic, or ginger smell, make sure to dry your laundry within a few hours. If washing is left to dry naturally and there’s not enough heat, it can take longer to dry and end up smelling musty. Make sure your clothes are completely dry before you take them off the line or out of the tumble dryer.
If you prefer to iron clothes while they’re still damp, do it straight away, rather than leaving your ironing pile to mount up.
Also, consider investing in a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process, and stop all that water from ending up in the air in your home. If you use a tumble dryer, don’t overload it and try to dry similar-weight clothes together. Also, leave space between each item.
Hang your clothes outside in the sun to let them air out. The sun’s rays have antimicrobial and deodorizing properties that will help to get rid of the smell.
Wash your clothes with baking soda
If your clothes have picked up the smell of onion, garlic, or ginger, you can easily get rid of the odor using baking soda. Here’s how to do it step-by-step:
- Put your clothes in the washing machine with a cup of white vinegar instead of detergent. Run the cycle on the hottest setting.
- When the cycle is finished, add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda and run the cycle again.
- Once the washing cycle is done, leave the clothes in the machine and sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda over them.
- Run a second hot water wash cycle with the baking soda.
- Remove your clothes and dry them thoroughly on the line or in the dryer.
By following these steps, you should be able to get rid of the onion, garlic, or ginger smell from your clothes. The vinegar helps to break up mineral deposits and dissolve grime, while the baking soda acts to neutralize the pH level and reduce detergent residue or minerals. Baking soda also helps to whiten and brighten old clothes, making them look and smell fresh.
Store your clothes properly after washing them
Storing your clothes properly after washing them is key to getting rid of any onion, garlic, or ginger smell. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you do just that:
- Make sure clothes are completely dry before you take them off the line or out of the tumble dryer. Select ‘extra dry’ on your dryer if necessary to ensure no moisture remains.
- Hang clothes rather than folding them to allow air to circulate. Leave space between each item and don’t stuff drawers to overflowing.
- If you have to fold them, do it straight away and try not to leave your ironing pile to mount up.
- If you haven’t worn clothes for a while, hang them outside on the line for a couple of hours to breathe new life into them. The combination of sunlight and breeze will help to lift any mildew smell.
- If this doesn’t do the trick, pop them in the machine for a quick rinse with some fabric conditioner.
- When storing clothes for a length of time, place a small scented lavender bag in with them to keep them smelling fresh.
- If clothes smell damp after washing, invest in a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
What you should know about keeping towels smelling fresh
1. Detergent and Fabric Softener Buildup
Using too much detergent and fabric softeners for washing towels can cause residue to build up on its fibres, leading to a decrease in absorbency and lackluster drying capabilities. This buildup of detergent and fabric softener residue traps dirt, mildew, mold, and bacteria, which results in the stinky laundry.
This can cause towels to smell bad and is often accompanied by a musty smell. To prevent this, use the right amount of detergent and fabric softener for your towels and consider switching to a more powerful detergent or detergent designed for lower temperatures.
Additionally, running your towels through a regular cycle with very warm or hot water, your regular detergent, and 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar as a natural fabric softener can help to reduce the smell.
2. Bacteria and Mold Growth
When it comes to bacteria and mold growth, towels can present a health risk if they are not properly cared for. Over time, towels can attract dust, dirt, and pet dander, which can create the perfect environment for mold and bacteria to grow.
In addition, if the towels are not washed often enough, they can start to breed bacteria, which can cause them to smell like dirty gym socks. If left unchecked, this bacteria can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, as well as lead to allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
To reduce risks, towels should be washed at least once a week and dried thoroughly. Regularly cleaning and drying the rubber gasket on the washing machine can also help reduce the risk of mold and bacteria growth.
3. Sweat Glands
Sweat glands are key components of bromhidrosis, the condition that causes an abnormally offensive smell similar to onions or sulfur. When the sweat from apocrine or eccrine glands mixes with bacteria on the skin, thioalcohols are produced—compounds that have strong odors.
This means that when sweat glands are overactive, the smell of towels can become more pungent and persistent than usual. To reduce the smell on towels, it is important to treat any underlying hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating as this can contribute to bromhidrosis and an unpleasant odor.
4. Towels Getting Stinky? Try Vinegar Washing.
Vinegar washing helps keep towels smelling fresh by eliminating residue and buildup that can lead to sour odors. The vinegar also serves as a natural fabric softener, which prevents static build-up and leaves towels feeling soft and fresh. When washing towels, adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle helps remove any detergent residue and bacteria that may have been left behind.
The vinegar also helps break down any oils and debris left on the towels, making them much easier to rinse clean. For an extra boost of freshness, add a half cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle. The baking soda helps neutralize odors and brings out the towels’ natural luster.
6. Bacteria and Sweat
When it comes to keeping towels smelling fresh, it is important to take into account the bacteria and sweat that can accumulate on them. This includes Corynebacterium and some Staphylococcus species, which break down sweat and produce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that cause clothes to smell.
To reduce odor and bacteria build-up, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as scrubbing thoroughly in the shower or bath and washing clothes and towels regularly. Also, avoid wearing the same clothes or shoes for too long, as this can increase sweat and bacteria build-up.
Additionally, using antibacterial and germicidal soap, removing or washing sweaty clothes immediately, taking regular warm baths or showers, and wearing anti-odor garments can also help to keep bacteria and sweat to a healthy minimum. Finally, using extra-strength or prescription deodorants can help to reduce body odor.
7. Lifestyle Choices
Keeping towels smelling fresh can be a challenge, but with the right lifestyle choices you can keep them smelling fresh and clean. Here are some steps you can take:
- Wash towels every two to three uses with warm water on a gentle cycle.
- To remove odors, add a cup of white vinegar to the load.
- Dry towels in the sun whenever possible to keep them smelling fresh and to reduce bacteria.
- Hang towels outside on a clothesline for 15 to 30 minutes to freshen them up.
- Avoid using fabric softener as it can coat towels and reduce absorbency
- Store towels in a dry, well-ventilated area.
- Replace towels every year to keep them looking and smelling fresh.
Are there any products that can be used to deodorize my towels?
Yes, there are a few products that can be used to deodorize your towels. Products such as vinegar and baking soda can be used to remove any musty smell and help restore freshness to your towels. You can also use laundry detergent and fabric softener with a citrus scent to further deodorize and freshen your towels.
Additionally, you can hang your towels out to dry in the sun, as the sun’s UV rays have antimicrobial and deodorizing properties. Finally, running an empty load with bleach prior to washing your towels can help eliminate any bacteria in the washing machine.
Could my body odor be the cause of my towels smelling?
Yes, it is possible that your body odor could be the cause of your towels smelling like onions and garlic. When you are stressed, your core temperature rises and you sweat more, which can cause odor-causing germs to accumulate on your towels.
A change in your diet, such as eating spicy foods or consuming a lot of cruciferous vegetables, can also cause your body odor to worsen. Furthermore, if you have a medical condition, it could be the cause of the bad smell coming from your towels. As such, it is important to look at all these possible factors when trying to figure out why your towels smell like onions or garlic.
Is it possible that laundry detergent is causing my towels to smell?
Yes, it is possible that laundry detergent is causing your towels to smell. Over time, soap residue can accumulate in the towel fibers, preventing them from absorbing as much water and drying as effectively as they should. This buildup of soap residue also encourages the growth of bacteria, leading to a musty smell.
In addition, fabric softener build-up can make towels waterproof, leading to a smelly odor and loss of softness. To avoid this problem, make sure to hang your towels up to dry completely between uses and avoid overusing detergent and fabric softener when washing.
Could the water heater in my home be the cause of towel odors?
Yes, the water heater in your home could be the cause of towel odors. When water sits in the water heater for a long period of time, it can develop a smell similar to onions. The anode rod in the heater may be corroded, which can also create an unpleasant odor that transfers to the water.
In addition, if you don’t use your heater often, then your towels may give off a bad smell the most when the weather gets colder and colder since you have to rely on the water heater more often. Furthermore, towels can also acquire a sour and smelly odor when they’re put away wet.
Even if you’re not experiencing any body odor, someone else using the same towels could also be the cause. To prevent towel odors, it is recommended to let the water run for at least seven to ten minutes before showering and to add one cup of distilled white vinegar during the final rinse when washing the towels.
Is it possible that bacteria is causing my towels to smell?
Yes, it is possible that bacteria is causing your towels to smell. Bacteria can form in towels due to a lack of proper washing and drying, as well as when they are stored before they are completely dry. Bacteria can also accumulate on the towels when detergent and fabric softener buildup occurs.
To remove and prevent bacteria from forming on towels, it is important to wash them frequently with bleach, use a bath towel no more than three times between washings and make sure to hang them outside for proper air circulation. Additionally, using two simple ingredients to make old towels feel fluffy and fresh can also help reduce odors caused by bacteria.
Could bacteria growth on my towels be the cause of the odor?
Yes, bacteria growth on towels could be the cause of the odor. This is because bacteria thrive in dark and moist areas, such as a bathroom. Furthermore, when towels are damp and stuffed in a warm room, a perfect environment is created for bacteria colonies to grow and multiply.
This can lead to a musty smell, as well as the characteristic odors of onions and garlic that towels can have. In addition, if a towel isn’t washed properly or isn’t hung outside to dry, then it can also harbor microbes that give off unpleasant odors.
Additionally, body odor can also be a contributing factor, as changes in diet or stress can lead to an increase in sweat and the growth of odor-causing germs. Therefore, it is very likely that bacteria growth on towels is the cause of the odor.
How do you get the onion smell out of towels?
- Identify the source of the onion smell. Check the heater and make sure it is in working condition and not containing stagnant water.
- Wash the towels on a hot cycle with laundry detergent containing a citrus scent or with a cup of baking soda. Baking soda can help deodorize the towels and make them smell fresher.
- Hang the towels out to dry in the sun. The sun’s UV rays have antimicrobial and deodorizing properties, so this can help get rid of any lingering onion smells.
- If the smell still persists, add a few splashes of white vinegar to the wash. This will help deodorize the towels and make sure that they don’t smell like vinegar when they are done.
- After washing, separate the towels and make sure you store them properly when they are not in use. This will help to prevent the build-up of odors and ensure that your towels stay smelling fresh.
What does it mean when you smell like onions?
Smelling like onions can be caused by two different factors. Firstly, it can be caused by the formation of odor-causing germs that love to thrive in moist places like towels. These germs feed on sweat and skin flakes, and in the process, they produce a by-product called thioalcohol, which has a distinct onion-like smell. Secondly, it can be due to towels absorbing smells that resemble onions or garlic from the environment.
Therefore, if your towels are smelling like onions or garlic, it could be due to either of these two factors. To solve this problem, you need to identify the source of the smell and take the necessary steps to put an end to it. You should ensure that your towels are properly washed and dried to get rid of odor-causing germs, and you should also make sure that your towels are not absorbing any smells that resemble onions or garlic from the environment.
Why do my towels smell after using them?
This is because when towels are stored before they are completely dry, a moist environment is created which encourages bacteria growth and leads to a sour smell. Furthermore, detergent and fabric softener build-up in the towels, also resulting in a sour smell.
To prevent this, one must make sure to hang the towels after use to allow air to circulate and dry them properly. Additionally, towels should be washed regularly and one should avoid leaving them in a damp pile as this can also lead to foul odors.
Lastly, if towels smell burnt after washing, this is an indication that there is an issue with the washer or dryer and it should be checked by a repair technician immediately.