The Secret to Reviving Your Dingy Dish Towels

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It's time to freshen 'em up, both in sight and smell.

Your dish towels work hard doing all kinds of kitchen tasks. From drying hands to acting as an emergency pot holder, dish towels are always there for you. Our Community Cooks let us in on how they fight the toughest stains and odors, kill germs and keep even vintage cloths in like-new condition with our secret ingredient: OxiClean. It only takes a little TLC, and dish towels will last for years!

How to Wash Dish Towels

Step 1: Soak

OxiClean is one of our favorite stain removers for a reason. Make the OxiClean-water solution as specified on the package, and soak your towels for between 20 minutes and 6 hours.

Community Cook Tip: “I use OxiClean and soak towels for at least 20 minutes,” says Susan Seymour, a Community Cook from Valatie, New York. “But all new ones will be a solid color, black or green!”

Step 2: Wash

Wash your dish towels with your other whites. Do your dish towels have a particularly strong odor? No matter what color you have, add some vinegar to help eliminate the stink. Next, put the towels in the dryer, so they are fresh, clean and ready for use!

Community Cook Tip: If you happen to wash your dish towels with colors, be sure to use Color Catcher to keep your whites bright and your colors sharp, says Orlando Community Cook Shawn Barto.

Don’t Mix Business with…Business

To keep your kitchen as clean as possible, use separate towels for hands and dishes. They’re busy wiping up spills and drying hands and dishes, and having a dedicated towel for each purpose will keep them smelling fresh and reduce the spread of germs.

Community Cook Tip: To keep dish towels in the best condition possible, we replace our dish towels every day.

Hang Them up…and Know When to Let Go

To reduce the risk of mildew, keep your dish towels hanging up throughout the day, rather than lying on your counter. This way, they’ll get plenty of ventilation. Between uses and before tossing in the wash pile, let them fully dry to minimize bacteria growth and odor.

Goodbyes can be hard, but eventually there’s a time to move on: When you can’t fully get a smell out of a dish towel no matter how many OxiClean baths you give it, it’s probably time to purchase a new one!

Next up: 11 Brilliant Cleaning Tricks We Learned from Grandma

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Kim Bussing
Kim Bussing is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She has written for publications including Reader’s Digest, Modern Farmer, Clean Plates and Vice, among others, and she is working on her first novel. She is always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll.