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Kitchen towels with rancid grease smell

Savannah, GA

I hope that someone here has an answer for me. I have "flour sack" kitchen towels and I love the job they do drying dishes and drying my hands. HOWEVER, bless his heart, DH seems to think that they're napkins/mops/Kleenexes/stove cleaners, etc. I've suggested that there are other sponges and scrubbers and, gasp, actual Kleenexes to take care of those jobs and he gets that look that a cocker spaniel gets when you give him a command he doesn't understand. Head cocked over, ears pricked, looks at you like you're speaking Greek...

My problem is that since we do laundry once a week (only 2 of us, trying to save energy by not doing small loads) these towels sit with various types of grease and oil on them for days and even if they come out of the dryer smelling clean after a few days in the cupboard they reek of rancid grease. Has anyone found anything that will get rid of the smell? I've tried baking soda to no avail, and I'm not sure what else to try. Rancid fat is one of those smells that I really loathe, so I'm trying to type with my fingers crossed in hopes that someone here will have a solution for me. I've gotten to the point where I'm wondering if I need to get a "towel pail," like my mother back in the day of cloth diapers had a "diaper pail." Hmmm... That might work, if only I knew what to put in the water!

(Tia) Norman, OK(Zone 7a)

the pail with a bit of bleach should work

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

I agree that bleach should work. Also have you tried borax. You can buy it at the grocery store, where they sell laundry detergent. It's pretty good at taking out odors.

Missouri City, TX

Bleach will work, but rot the cotton cloth very quickly. Try some borax or oxyclean in the pail.

(Tia) Norman, OK(Zone 7a)

I was talking about like a cap full of bleach and then the laundry would be done at least once a week right?

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Tell us if it works. I've had to throw them away for the last 32 years as my hubby does the same. I have paper towel holders in three places and he still reaches for a pretty towel...

I've heard that you can boil them with l. soap and a bit of bleach and that will work.......I'm too lazy i guess...

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

How about soaking them in vinegar water? Vinegar counter acts rancid grease and oils.
It is worth a try.

New York & Terrell, TX(Zone 8b)

mgpaquin wrote:

I've gotten to the point where I'm wondering if I need to get a "towel pail," like my mother back in the day of cloth diapers had a "diaper pail."

Yes, I remember those days! My "first baby" turned out to be Twin Boys - & no disposable diapers in those days!!

I often soaked them in a pail; as I rinsed them out before soaking them.

1) Borax was the first & main ingredient as it would remove both odor & stains (very hot) water was used to dissolve it, separately in a measuring cup. A 1/2 cup was used for every gallon of water. (If your towels are white - then use hot water to soak them in, if not, then use the hottest water possible as recommended, for the coloring to remain in the towels.)

2) Bleach was used along with the detergent during the wash cycle, for increased whiteness, odor control & more stain removal. One cupful per machine load.

3) I often rinsed them in a vinegar rinse (likewise with the hot water) to remove the detergents & bleach (because faces & bare bottoms are sensitive to them,) & for additional odor control. One cupful per machine load.

Would you believe my Godmother & Mother taught me this? The Twins will be 36 years old in April! (Egads, I'm getting up there in age!)

~* Robin

Katy, TX(Zone 8b)

When I have stains that won't come out of cloth- whatever such as you mention, mustard on my blouse, grease, grime, I have found that Oxyclean is the one and only thing that works and won't discolor or bleach out color. Mustard on a navy blue blouse. Oxyclean. It doesn't take much - just follow the instructions. If something needs to be soaked in a cool solution and something else needs a hot solution, soak the one in the hot and when the solution cools down do the other. I was at my wit's end w/yellowed nylon or other synthetics and found that the Oxyclean really worked quite well and that way you won't just THINK you have the stain out and go ahead and dry it and therefore really set the stain in. Sometimes, tho, you will find that Oxyclean will get out set in stains, too. I don't have any financial interest in the the "Oxyclean Company" - whoever that might be. I am just one contented user and really like the stuff and it doesn't ruin your hands, either.


Beautiful Brazoria C, TX(Zone 9a)

For as long as I have had to do my own laundry I deal with the..ah.. well...greasy nasty bits by boiling them! Mah-ha-ha! When I have a linen load (as in household linen- not just things made of linen fabric but also cotton, some rayons, the groovy new bamboo items and -just to be clear- not wool) the mankiest, funk junk oily, greasy hot pads, napkins and kitchen towels go into a kettle or large stock pot of simmering water. One item or all the dinner napkins and placemats from last night's rack-o-ribs. Read your fabric care lable first! If the item can't stand the heat.....but a well built cotton 'flour sack' style *should* take this treatment in stride.

I set on the pot half to two-thirds full of water. Water volumn depends on amount of laundry to get the treatment. Bring to a simmer, add your fav detergent in the amount listed for 'soaking', borax is also excellent, and add the offending items.
Really Super-bad, simmer 15 - ??? minutes, bad stuff - simmer 10 to 15 minutes - then turn off the heat. The Oxy-products could be added at the point if needed. My use of the Oxy stuff depends on the stain/funk to be displaced, adding the product to the super-hot wash water has always been most excellent without the simmer. I never have found chlorine bleach to be of much use in remove large amounts of oils or fats trapped in a fabric. Heat! Heat and surfactants!

I like to use a timer for the simmer stage and then for the cool down stage. I cool for 15 to 30 minutes, then either drain or go fishing. Be Careful! Hot Stuff Is Hot! The hot wash water down the kitchen sink drain can be good for the plumbing and letting the wash water cool completely with your laundry could maybe redeposit the funk you just worked to displace. I rinse in more hot water and then throw the stuff into the washing 'mash-ine' and wash it again some more.....

My great grandmother would do this to her wash clothes and the face towels and her dish clothes and towels, I think she just boiled a lot of laundry. I loved to watch the process and giggle at the family jokes about Granny's special soup. But then again....after she would fish the items out and place them in a granite ware tub, she walked them out to the back porch, ran them through the wringer, into the rinse tub, wringer again and onto the clothes line.....

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

OK! I've copied that to my recipe file.

Now, I have some brand new left in the garage in Arkansas for years - table linens. They are splotchy yellowed and smell of mildew. Think they were ecru or beige probably cotton, with battenberg and serging and embroidery - all cotton. I just found them after my Brother had given them to me last year. How do I safely fix this?

Katy, TX(Zone 8b)

Try the Oxy-clean in cold water and handle carefully. Soak and see if the stains came out. If they haven't soak some more. A couple of hours should fix this. Then drain and wash on gentle in the washer in cold water using a good detergent.All your age stains should be gone by then. DO NOT DRY in dryer until all discoloration is gone.


Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Whew! It turns out that the linens are white! The discoloration went out with the soak in hot oxy-water the foxing (yellow dots) are still there. I'm soaking in bleach water now, may have to go buy that color remover that is sold next to the dyes if this doesn't work. I don't know how long to soak them in the bleach....I think that I'll let them stay in it for 30 minutes.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Perfect!!! They were rinsed and spun several times, the last time with vinegar as I was still seeing bubbles in the water. They smell great and look wonderful. Now on to the ironing ;-(

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