Get the Stink Out of Your Dish Cloth {Without Buying New}


There’s a few items I received multiples of when I got married. Dish cloths/towels were one of them – in pretty much every color imaginable too. I’ve never had to buy any, and still have a bunch of brand new ones packed away for when my current cloths get rips or holes.

But if you use a dish cloth long enough, it’s going to stink. Bad. Like smelly locker rooms mixed with mildew. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

I tried bleaching them, washing them in scalding hot water, and kept piling on the detergent, but nothing worked. The minute the cloth got wet, it stunk.

Introducing my friend, baking soda

Baking soda is known for getting out odors, so I thought I’d give it a try. The results were amazing! Care for the details?


  1. Pull out the biggest pot you have and start boiling water 1/2 – 3/4’s full.
  2. Place 3 or 4 dish cloths into the boiling water using tongs. You don’t want to get burned!
  3. Pour 1/8 cup baking soda into the water and stir. I found other sites that recommend using 1/2 – 1 cup of baking soda, but you really don’t need that much. A little bit ‘ill do ya!
  4. Boil for 20 minutes.
  5. Pull the dish cloths out with tongs and put straight into your washer.


A few tips and tricks

-Dish cloths with more holes, tend to stink less overall. I’m talking about the ones you knit together yourself. Don’t be afraid to use those homemade beauties – I think they work much better than store bought ones!

– Don’t boil together dark colors and light colors. I had a dark red in with a light blue, and the blue turned dingy.

– Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t boil over. The baking soda can get frothy at times.

– The key to keeping the smell away is to change the dish cloth often. I use it once, let it dry, and then toss it in the laundry basket. I haven’t had to boil them again since – and that was about a year ago!


I know there are many methods to getting the odor out of dish cloths, but this is the method that has worked for me. I am so much happier now that I have clean smelling cloths to work with. It makes such a big difference.

Plus, you don’t have to throw away perfectly good dish cloths and waste money. Granted, you can get cheap ones at the dollar store, but you could also save that dollar toward something else!

If you liked this post, I have even more cleaning and organizing goodies for you:

How do you deal with stinky dish cloth syndrome?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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    1. I would probably start fresh each time, but if your towels aren’t too smelly you might be able to get away with reusing the water a couple of times! If they come out still smelling bad then you can always try it again with fresh water.

  1. Thank you thank you thank you!!! I did this trick this morning, threw them in the washing machine right after with a bunch of vinegar in the fabric softener dish and omg no smell left. I am in shock. I had tried everything!!! The amount of dirt that was in my pot after boiling was also shocking. Like what??? How does my dishcloth get that dirty washing dishes??? But thank you so much for this tip. Life changing!

  2. Oh, thank you so much! I really can’t stand wiping my counter tops and then getting that ‘whiff’ of something smelly…And the cloth was supposedly clean. I can’t wait to try this. And the microwave method sounds like a good one, too.

    Pine Sol? Wouldn’t that make everything smell like Pine Sol then? Just curious. I will do what it takes because that sour cloth smell is the worst.

    Happy days!

    1. If you use Pine Sol it will probably keep that smell for a while – but that is so much better than the sour cloth smell. 🙂

  3. I put them in the microwave on high, on a microwave safe dish, wet , for 3 minutes and then wash. Saw this idea on the Today show a while back works great

    1. That’s really neat, Melanie. I’ve never heard of this idea before. Yet another one that I’m going to have to try!

  4. I’ve used baking soda for years when washing my hunting clothes to remove all scent. I can see where this would work for my dish clothes too. Thanks for the tip.

  5. I use pine sol in my washing machine cold on all my towels, dish clothes, and sheets it’s a disinfectant and makes them smell great. Pine sol is good if you forget a load and find it the next day. Rewash with pine sol I use about 1/2 cup per load.

  6. I always wash my towels and washcloths with hot water and add bleach to the wash with the regular laundry detergent. I’ve never had them smell. I also make sure I don’t use fabric softener so they absorb rather than repel water.

    1. Though I’ve not tried it myself, I’ve heard that Dawn dish soap might be worth a shot. Soak your cloths for about 10 minutes then launder normally. I hope it works!

    2. I use ammonia when my pot holders and bread basket liners get greasy. Just don’t mix ammonia and bleach, because the fumes are toxic.

      1. Very important warning! I actually did that once when a blogger recommended leaving ammonia in the toilet brush holder {with your toilet brush} to help eliminate bathroom odors. Didn’t take long for the fumes to start. After a quick google search and we were airing out the house!!

    1. When boiling dishcloths in baking soda, just be sure to boil on a medium to low setting so you don’t get the spillover.

  7. I’ve heard Oxi Clean recommended for so many things lately — will have to experiment and give it a try! I also agree with using a new dishcloth/towel every day. Some might consider it wasteful, but it makes me feel better to use a clean cloth rather than try and wash with a dirty one!

  8. I hate stinky dishcloths and towels. I usually use a new one every day. Hang them to dry.
    Then I soak mine in the sink with some oxi clean and water and I never have any smells in my dishcloths.

  9. I had good luck with hanging my dishcloths on a towel dryer to dry (it hangs on the wall, it looks like three big prongs that you can sling your dishtowels over to air dry-we got ours at an Amish store) using a fresh one every day and if they get stinky washing them in hot water with baking soda and rinsing them with white vinegar.

    1. I never knew there was such a thing as a towel dryer — interesting! Going to check this out. 🙂

    1. I only buy e-cloth dish cloths and tried this method a while back and a week later they were smelly and I use vinegar as my fabric softener in my laundry every time I do a load. I just bought 2 new e-cloths and they are now smelly which hasn’t happened before. They last many months without getting smelly. Any other suggestions?

  10. I put vinegar in the washing machine sometimes when I wash towels and that works really well. Depending on the smell you have to do it a couple times, but if you do it regularly it works great!

  11. That’s awesome! Can’t wait to try this! My mum and I go crazy about the smell…. *shiver*…. I’ll be passing this onto her too! =)

    1. The smell makes me feel like my kitchen is dirty, and I can only imagine the bacteria that builds up on a dish cloth. Now, at least they smell nice, even though they probably still have a lot of germs. Lol. 🙂 Good luck!

    2. My daughter suggested I try Target’s Method dish soap.
      I tried it and I no longer have smelly dish cloths.

    3. To all of you out there who use some variation of this process. — BE CAREFUL ABOUT STARTING A FIRE IN YOUR MICROWAVE —- I did that myself a few years ago. — apparently the cloth got too dry?? Somewhat scary — I immediately shut of microwave to control oxygen before opening the door.

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