The Laundry Quandary

Pet grooming towels have a “ruff” life. Not only do they dry dogs and cats, but in a pinch, they are sometimes used to clean up bodily fluids that stink. Then they get tossed into a hamper to stew a while before they get washed. So it’s no wonder they sometimes don’t smell all that great, even after a spin through the washing machine.

Here are some tips to keep your grooming towels fresh, despite their stinky job.

  • Wash towels daily. The longer they sit it in a damp hamper, the more the musty odors will grow.
  • Use the “hot” setting when washing pet towels. Higher heat will combat bacteria.
  • Don’t overload your washing machine. The fabric needs to move freely in the water to become adequately cleaned.
  • Dry towels as soon as possible once the wash cycle is completed.
  •  If a towel is used to mop up, for instance, a puddle of urine, rinse it well with clear water, then wring it out before adding it to the hamper. Wash it as soon as possible.
  • Not all laundry detergents are created equally. Look for laundry detergent that is labeled as an odor fighter. For example, I like Oxi Clean Odor Blaster.
  • Reach into your kitchen cabinet. Vinegar and Baking soda, both inexpensive and easy to acquire, are great laundry aids. You can pre-soak towels in vinegar, then spin and drain the water away. Next, wash as you usually would. You can also sprinkle ½ cup of baking soda over the top of your laundry as an odor-removing booster. Alternatively, you can sprinkle baking soda over the towels as they sit in the hamper to help absorb bad smells.
  • Avoid using fabric softeners. The oils in fabric softeners make your towels less absorbent and can trap dirt, bacteria, and odors (think mold and mildew) in the material.
  • Clean your washing machine. Mold, mildew, and bacteria can build up in the machine. Follow the manufactures instructions to clean your device. Leave the door open between uses to increase airflow.
  • Your dryer may also require periodic cleaning. Check your manufactures instructions and be sure the ventilation hose and outlet are clean. Towels produce a lot of lint, and a clogged vent will make your dryer inefficient and can even be a fire hazard.
  • Make sure towels are entirely dried before folding and storing them.

Grooming towels are hard-working tools and are most enjoyable when properly cleaned, dried, and smelling fresh.

By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG 

Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years.  You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism.  She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.