Why Do My Towels Smell Like Onions, Garlic Or Ginger?

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Why Do My Towels Smell Like Onions? This kind of terrible smell is usually as a result of the formation of odour causing germs that explore and inhabit moist places which are most often provided by towels.

It can, however, be smells that were absorbed by the towels resembling the smell of onions, garlic or ginger. It can also be possible that the odour was absorbed by your skin from the kitchen and transferred to your towels in the bathroom.

Stagnant water, clogged drain and the human skin or body are some of the major causes of such disgusting smells. These common sources will form the basis for our discussion.

Common causes of onion smell on towels

The same odour that may smell fantastic in the kitchen or dining room may have an entirely different effect by creating an unpleasant smell on your towels if by chance it is present in your bathroom. Here are various reasons for it as discussed below.

Body odour

It can be possible that the onion-like smell on your towels may actually not be as a result of microbial growth, a clogged drain or even smelly water from your heater. It can be that the smell is as a result of a person’s body odour.

Body odour could be as a result of stress as it can possibly cause a rise in your core temperature which will increase your level of sweating and thereby, birthing odour-causing germs.

You could have a medical condition or may begin to have a bad body odour, as a result of diet change. When you eat a lot of spicy foods and vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, you could influence it.

If your towels smell not for any of the other mentioned reasons and you are sure of yourself not having a body odour, then someone who does have used your towel to dry his or her body.

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Clogged drain

You must not always blame microbial growth for the onion-like smells that your towels may send-off. It is not always responsible.

It could also have been a clogged shower drain. Your towels may have absorbed the smells from it and retained it if not properly attended to.

The common things that could clog your shower drain are dirt, hair, water minerals, some ingredients like wax and fats in some soaps. They can individually accumulate to a great amount and cause your shower drain ineffective.

However, in certain cases, those different clogging sources could form alliances against you and cause your shower drain not to drain very well.

And also, microbes can easily grow without restrictions when a drain is clogged. This better gives it the luxury of forming and sending off unpleasant smells. These odours may also come off as smells of onions/garlic/ginger.

In the absence of a clogged shower drain, sometimes you can also relay the blame to your clogged bathroom sink drain. To avoid this, always ensure that all the drains in your bathroom are in perfect working condition.

This is not just for the safety of your towel’s smell but also in consideration of your nose when you step into your bathroom.

Microbial growth

Towels are mostly wet, especially if the owner showers or baths a lot of times in a day. Towels can take up to an average of 3 hours to dry completely, depending on what drying method you use.

But if you are someone that baths within the interval of the drying process, it’s going to leave your towels damp most times.

Another thing is, your towels are usually kept in your dark and usually moist bathroom. Germs can easily grow and multiply on your towels without control or restrictions simply because of these kinds of factors.

The presence of some of these microbes gives off different kinds of unpleasant smells, which could include the smell that resembles that of onions.

This makes your towel a habitat for those harmful organisms that are invisible to the eyes. Therefore, it means that after every bath or shower, you harm or endanger yourself by possibly spreading habitant germs all over you by just using your towel to dry your body.

Towels that have been kept for a long while without usage may harbour microbes that may eventually send off odours that might resemble that of onions. This can happen as a result of your failure or carelessness in properly washing the towels before storing them.

It can also be possible that they absorbed such offensive smells from somewhere else. One of the possible places is what we will discuss next.

Stagnant heat water

In certain instances, the heater in your bathroom could be the main reason for a bad smell on your towel sometimes. This means that if you have not used your heater for a while the stored water will pick a smell.

After you take a hot shower, when you have probably just returned home from a vacation, you will have to experience your towel sending off an offensive smell due to the smelly water that has been left stagnant in your heater for a while now.

This will be an expected occurrence if you fail to use your water heater frequently. As a result, your towels may tend to send off bad smells the most when the weather gets colder and colder, simply because that would be the time you must rely on your water heater more for usage, as you may have noticed.

One other reason why your water heater may produce smelly water is the heater’s anode rod. The rod is made of metal. When corroded, it may create the platform for an unpleasant odour to grow and possibly be transferred to the water.

How can I prevent my towels from smelling like onions?

Drain and refill your water heater

It won’t cost you a dime if you drain and refill your water heater frequently but would rather save you the stress and discomfort of having smelly water and towel.

If your heater’s anode rod is bad, use the user’s guide to replace it. You could also hire a professional plumber to fix it for you if you do not consider yourself fit to do it.

Good bath

Always make sure that for every shower, you must wash very well (Check Dove body wash). And also, you should lower your stress rate. To avoid body odour transfer on your towel, you can cut down on foods that could possibly leave you smelly.

If your body odour comes with strange symptoms, visit a doctor. That is simply because your body odour could be a result of certain health conditions like diabetes or infection. .

Unclogging shower drain

To avoid causing bad smells that could be transferred to your towels, you should always unclog your shower drain of visible debris even with your two hands if necessary.

Afterwards, pour some baking soda into it with vinegar and if the problem still persists, pour some hot water into it. However, it could be bad for PVC pipes. Sometimes you may just need the help of a local plumber.

Installation of fans/larger windows

A way to keep your bathroom and towels smelling nice is by installing an exhaust fan in your bathroom. You could also install larger windows in your bathroom. This will allow easy circulation of natural air in your bathroom.

If none of the solutions mentioned work for you, then you should simply just hang your towel outside and let it dry properly.


How do you get the onion or garlic smell out of my towels?

To achieve this, simply add one cup of baking soda during laundry. Using a laundry detergent with a citrus smell is also a good idea.

Is there a cheap and all-natural way to deodorize my towels?

You can have your towels smelling fresh from hanging them under the sun as the rays have antimicrobial and deodorizing properties.

Why do my towels smell after using them?

It only takes some accumulation of soap residues on your towel’s fibres to be able to stop them from absorbing water and drying well as they should. When detergents build up on your towels, it canters all effort to keep them smelling fresh.

Why do my towels smell after one use?

It is probably because you didn’t hang your towel outside after use for air to circulate and dry it properly. Most times, a damp towel in a warm room is all it takes for a bacteria colony to breed and grow. Therefore, leading to a sour, musty smell.

Why Do My Towels Smell Like Onions – Conclusion

You can have a towel smelling like an onion for quite so many different reasons. If you don’t want them to send off unpleasant odours, then try to isolate the possible source of the smell. Once you find it, fix it.

We have identified and discussed different causes of such problems. We have also identified some solutions to all of the mentioned sources. What you need to do now is figure out why your bathroom or towel smells like onions and do what is necessary to end it.

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