Towels Smell Like Body Odor After Shower: Reasons And How To Fix?

Like many of you, I used to wonder why does my towel smell after I shower? How come it gets BO from my cleaned body?

Well, turns out, I was doing many things wrong! Among other reasons, if your towel has a higher polyester count, it will smell like a body odor after taking showers.

I will talk about those reasons and explain my way how to prevent towels from smelling after showering.  

Causes Why Towel Smells Like BO After Shower?

towel smells like BO

The reasons will vary from person to person. But I have listed all those possible reasons for having body odor from your towels.

So, if your towel is made of 100% cotton, check out the following reasons no matter how silly they sound:

  • Washing Towels Wrong

Using too much detergent to wash your towels will cause them to smell musty. It’s nearly impossible to rinse all the detergents out of the towels.

So, those detergent buildups will attract dirt and bacterial that will cause a foul smell too. Using fabric softeners for your towels will lead to such scenarios.

Fabric softeners contain oil that his oil makes your towels feel soft. But the oily coating on the towel attracts the odor-causing dirt and bacteria.

  • Leaving Them Damp For Too Long

Maybe you are leaving your towels in the washer for too long before you dry them. That makes the towels musty. Even leaving them for a few hours in the washer will do the damage.

When left inside the warm and humid environment of the washer, this is bound to happen!

When the towels are dry, you won’t smell the odor. But when they get damp after taking a bath, you will smell an odor again.

  • You Are Drying It WRONG!

If you hang your towels in your humid bathroom with enclosed windows, they are not going to dry fast. Instead, they will get mildew. 

Bacteria grow fast in your damp towels and cause a foul odor.  

  • You Have A Dirty Washing Machine

Your washing machine gets dirty over time. You can be sure of it when your towels smell even after using the right proportion of detergent and drying them right away in an open space.

When your washer is dirty itself, it will breed mold, mildew, bacteria and all of them will cause a bad smell.

  • You Are Not Bathing Right
my towel smell after I shower

Since they bathe less and don’t do it right, homeless people stink a lot! So, bathing yourself the right way is crucial. 

Scratch your skin right after taking a bath. If you find dirt in your nails, you are not bathing right.

When you are not bathing right, your skill will have dead skin residues and other dirt.

Your towels will accumulate dirt and dead skin residues. So, odor-causing bacteria will grow and your towels will stink!

  • Intense Body Odor

You can’t get rid of your BO taking a bath only. So, naturally, your towels will get the body odor from your body. 

It’s not just bad for your towel, it’s embarrassing for yourself too. It messes up everyone’s confidence. 

You need a good deodorant or medical assistance to address your BO first.  

  • Excess Body Oils and Sweat

Oils, sweat, and bodily excretions naturally contain organic compounds that can get trapped in towels and start to smell. After you dry off, oils stay behind and bacteria feast on them, causing odor. More oil and sweat equals more “food” for bacteria.

  • Bacteria and Microbes

Bacteria, yeasts, mold, and mildew that live on our body and thrive in damp towels can cause stinky amino acid breakdown components. Towels left crumpled while wet are especially prone to microbial overgrowth.

  • Laundry Detergent Build-Up

Residue left behind from laundry products can provide the perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Detergent, softener, and soap scum build-up over time can make matters worse.

  • Hard Water Minerals

Mineral deposits from hard water, like calcium and magnesium, can get trapped in towels. This creates an alkaline environment that helps odor-causing bacteria multiply faster.

Now that we know what tends to cause stinky towel syndrome, let’s look at some simple solutions.

  • Using Wrong Soap!

Your body will retain the smell of the soap and your towel will get that smell. What’s the smell of your soap?

Don’t feel bad… I know there are some people who shower themselves without any soap! That’s terrible and their terrible body odor will end up in their towels.

I always use good smelling antibacterial soap. Not just my body, it keeps my towels and other clothes free of odor-causing bacterial. You can try it too.

  • You Have Low-quality Towels

Just because you paid a good price does not necessarily mean you got quality 100% cotton-made towels. 

If you have low-quality towels in the first place with a high count of polyester, body odor will linger longer than usual. Almost all the cheap towels have a higher polyester count! 

How To Prevent Towels From Smelling After Shower?

cleaning stinky towel

Now that you are perfectly aware of why your towels smell like BO, I am pretty sure you already know what you should do to keep them smell-free.

But if you want to follow my own BO prevention strategy, you are welcome to follow these below-mentioned tips:

1. Wash Towels on Hot

Heat is bacteria’s enemy, so washing towels in hot water is a must. Aim for the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric. Hot water sanitizes and kills odor-causing germs much more effectively than cold water alone.

2. Use Bleach or Oxygenated Bleach

While hot water kills most bacteria, bleach-based products provide extra disinfecting power against tough towel odors. Traditional chlorine bleach or oxygenated “color-safe” bleach both help deodorize and sanitize.

3. Avoid Overloading Washer/Dryer

Cramming too many towels into each load can lead to improper cleaning and incomplete drying. For thorough odor removal, make sure to leave room for water and air circulation.

4. Use enzyme-Based Detergent

Enzyme cleaners actually digest the compounds in sweat, oils, and bodily excretions that bacteria feast on. This starves odor-causing germs instead of just covering up smells.

5. Skip Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can leave a lingering film that traps odors over time. For smell-free towels, it’s best to skip the softening products altogether

6. Replace Your Towels With Quick Dry Towels

If you already have quick dry towels, you don’t need to replace them when their condition is still good. But I always recommend replacing bath towels with quick-dry towels because it solves the BO problem greatly.

Quick-dry towels dry at least 3 times faster than average towels. That feature alone can kill 99% of the odor-causing bacteria.

So, people dealing with BO should always get quick-dry towels.

7. Deep Clean Your Towels More Frequently

The right frequency of giving your towels a deep clean is after 3 to 5 uses. And you need to wash them with hot water. The hot water will help a lot to kill the bacteria.

Of course, your washer should be clean as well. You can use any good detergent or vinegar but don’t overuse them.

After the wash cycle, don’t leave them in the washer for too long. Remove them from the washer right after the wash cycle is complete and let them dry in a place with better air circulation.

If your towels still smell after the deep cleaning, you need to wash them again but this time you can add essential oil. This oil will make your bath towel smell good!

You don’t need more than 3 to 4 drops of essential oil of your choice for this purpose. 

8. Disinfect With White Vinegar

The acetic acid in distilled white vinegar kills bacteria, removes soap residue, and acts as a deodorizer. Add 1-2 cups to the wash or soak towels.

9. Air Dry Properly

Ensure towels fully dry before reuse. Hang them separately so air can fully circulate. Avoid leaving damp towels piled in hampers.

Why Do I Get a Funky Smell Right After Showering?

It’s not just your towels – sometimes a bad body odor can emanate from your own skin after getting out of the shower. What’s with that?

Here are some potential reasons you may notice a funky or sour smell after bathing:

Excess Moisture

Wet skin breeds bacteria very quickly. Gently pat dry after showering to remove excess moisture and bacteria growth.

Dead Skin Cell Buildup

Shedding skin cells and oil on the body can create prime conditions for microbial growth and associated odors. Exfoliate regularly.

Soap Residue

Leftover residue from shower products like soap, shampoo, and cleansers can clog pores and cause bacterial imbalances. Always rinse thoroughly.

Body Chemistry

Each person’s unique body chemistry affects how quickly bacteria grow and interact on the skin’s surface. This determines natural odor production.

Bacterial Overgrowth

A whiff of BO after showering may signal an overabundance of odor-causing bacteria like staphylococcus. Talk to a doctor about medicated cleansers if it persists.

My Take On Stinky Towels

To me, a bath towel will smell badly only when you leave it damp in an enclosed space. Most people leave their towels in the bathroom which is often kept shut.

Without better air circulation, those towels are bound to get stinky. So, don’t leave your damp towels in the bathroom. Hang it in an open space and you should not have stinky bath towels anymore. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my towel smell like BO after I shower?

When you put your damp towel in a warm room with no air circulation, bacteria will grow and thrive. That leads to the generation of foul body odor. Even if you clean and dry your towel right, it can still smell bad if it has a higher polyester count.

Why does my towel smell like butt?

Your towel relentlessly collects bacteria and thrives when not dried well. So, it’s normal that your towel will smell bad.

How often should towels be washed?

You should wash your towel right after 3 to 5 usages and hang it to dry in an area with better air circulation.

Is it OK to use the same towel for a week?

It depends on the frequency of towel use. But you should wash it after 3 to 5 use.

Why do my towels smell bad even after washing?

If towels still smell after washing, common causes include washer mildew, clogged pipes, moldy water supply, insufficient detergent, hard water buildup, or inadequate drying. Deep cleaning techniques like vinegar soaks can remove musty leftover odors.

How do you get the Bo smell out of towels?

To remove BO smells from towels, wash them in hot water with an enzyme detergent and oxygenated bleach. Baking soda scrubs, vinegar soaks, and borax soaks can also help eliminate stubborn BO odors that remain after washing.

Closing Remarks

So, plenty of reasons why your towels smell like body odor after the shower, right? Which one you have been doing wrong?

My easy method of keeping my towels is washing them every three to five usages and I never dry them in a dryer. I always make sure it has better air circulation while drying.

Follow my prevention tips and your towels should no longer smell like BO.

Clyde Mitchell

I run a hardware store nearby Court Anaheim, CA. Over the last 7 years, I have been blogging about home improvement and yes, I own From me and this website, you can expect some useful tips on great ideas for a modern bathroom.

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