I am staring at a big basket of unfolded towels that’s been sitting here for two days and thinking about whether or not I should fold them.

In the early days of our relationship, Cadillac would refold all the towels after I folded them. The way I fold them, he said, they didn’t fit as well into the cupboard. Also, he is pretty OCD about the towels.

He tried to show me how to fold towels properly. You fold them in half, then in half again, then into thirds. I don’t think I ever folded a towel until I was in my 20s because my mom folded all the towels, as perfectly as Cadillac does, and she probably didn’t want us kids messing them up.

No matter how hard I try, I don’t get the edges perfectly lined up, and the folds are all floppy like bunny ears instead of creases like he gets (and how does he get those creases?)

Now, because he is gone for many hours of the day and is less OCD about everything in general, he bites his tongue when he sees my poorly folded towels. Generally he doesn’t refold them, though when he does, he doesn’t say anything about it. (And yeah, there are ways I like to do things that I think he’s doing wrong, like how he uses a tiny paring knife to chop stuff when we have a chef’s knife. It’s just not right!)

The towels were smelling mildewy and were kind of crackly. Stinky towels. Yuck. We never use softener, but apparently towels start absorbing detergent, which makes them hard, and also start to smell.

I saw a Lifehacker post suggesting this:

  1. Wash the towels on hot with 1 cup of vinegar, no detergent.
  2. Wash the towels again with 1/2 cup of baking soda, no detergent.

The vinegar smells strong, but the baking soda gets out all the rest of the smell.

Result: It totally worked! The towels are soft and don’t stink.

One thing I was curious about was whether vinegar kills germs, because you’re not using detergent in these loads. Does it kill mold? Mildew? Bacteria?

Good Housekeeping‘s microbiologists conducted some tests on behalf of CBS news and found that vinegar kilsl 90% of mold and 99.9% of bacteria.

Baking soda will help neutralize odor and may also help kill off or destabilize organisms. I was looking for articles on how this works, but found a bunch of conflicting articles. You can use baking soda to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth. I think it works because it gives off CO2, which cuts down on the oxygen stinky organisms need to flourish. So it might not kill things directly, but indirectly. If someone knows, please leave it in the comments.

Anyway, it’s doubtful that germs could survive two hot water load cycles plus the vinegar and then baking soda.

Several stacks of gym towels on a wooden bench.
Cadillac did not fold these, but they look neat enough that he might have. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)