Mildew in Your Towels? What About Stinky Dishcloths?

Towels and other linens can be a haven for bacteria and mildew, even when fresh from the washing machine. The following tips will help you to prevent unwanted spores in your laundry.

  1. Remove towels and other linens from the washing machine as soon as possible. Allowing laundry to sit for even short periods of time in warm or humid conditions can quickly lead to mildew. While you might not see or even smell it, mildew spores can grow rapidly.

  2. If it has been several hours since the washer stopped, re-wash the load. Even if it doesn't have a noticeable odor, mildew could be lurking. At the very least, run the rinse cycle again.

  3. When drying towels, use the highest setting on your dryer and make sure to dry towels thoroughly. Some people take them out when they are still a little damp, in order to conserve energy. If you do this, towels should be hung until completely dry, so moisture isn't trapped where it can lead to mildew and other bacteria growth. Folding towels while even a little damp, will keep in moisture.

  4. Bath towels, dishtowels, washcloths, and dishcloths, harbor lots of germs. Wash them in hot water at least occasionally or if they are heavily soiled. Add bleach where possible. If you have colored towels and can't use bleach, add a bit of fabric safe disinfectant to each load.

  5. You may not think of your washer as "dirty" since water and detergent are cycling through it. However, most laundry detergents are not antibacterial and water temperatures don't tend to be high enough to kill all contaminations. Wash a load using disinfectant or bleach after a few loads to keep your washing machine sanitary.

Keeping your dishcloth clean, fresh and sanitized makes your whole kitchen smell a lot nicer. (Isn't the smell of a musty dishcloth just AWFUL?) Here are two of my favorite ways to keep the dishcloths clean:

  • Just clean the dishcloth in the dishwasher! All I do is leverage a bowl or cup against the dishcloth on the top shelf of the dishwasher and let it run as usual. Because the dishwasher gets so incredibly hot, it will completely clean and sanitize your kitchen cloth.
  • A few people have told me to try cleaning the dishcloth in the microwave. Apparently you can put a thoroughly moistened dishcloth right into the microwave and heat on high for about 30 seconds or so. Be careful not to burn yourself when you take the dish cloth out again! How about killing two cleaning chores with one stone? Try popping the above mentioned dishcloth in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, and then just let it sit in there for about ten minutes. Your dishcloth will get cleaned AND all of the accumulated steam inside the microwave will make it easy to clean, just wipe that dishcloth around the interior of the microwave and you've got a gorgeous, lovely, clean microwave.

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