Here's how you get that mildew smell out of your towels (+ 6 laundry tips)

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Laundry mishaps happen. Perhaps you forgot and left a load of towels in the washer and now they smell funky. Maybe an ink pen snuck it's way into your dryer. Don't worry, you won't have to throw away an entire load of clothes.
These hints and tips will walk you through fixing your biggest laundry nightmares. With a few simple ingredients, you can often save your clothes and walk away smelling nice and fresh.
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1. Get rid of funky washing machine odors (h/t One Good Thing)
Front loaders and HE washing machines save on water and electricity. The trade off is that often detergents and fabric softeners build up in the washer to create some crazy mildew smells. In order to keep your clothes and washer smelling fresh, you need to wash your washing machine on a regular basis. Running a hot water load with vinegar, cleaning the dispenser tray, and then the door and seals is often all you need to do. If that doesn't do the trick, running a hot wash cycle with bleach added and two rinse cycles can finish the job for you.
2. Stop towels from smelling like mildew (h/t Classy Clutter)
Sometimes the buildup of detergent and fabric softener doesn't happen in your washer, but in your towels. If they sit damp for any amount of time they can become rather stinky. The solution is in your kitchen. Wash the smelly towels in hot water with one cup of vinegar. If they still smell, wash again on hot with 1/2 cup baking soda. This process help strips the build up holding onto the mildew smell.
3. Remove ink from your dryer (h/t Kissing the Frog)
An ink pen snuck into your dryer and exploded. Now you are terrified that the resulting mess will work its way onto the next load. After all, the splotches are all over your dryer walls. Kissing the Frog tried several different methods and recommends using Soft Scrub to remove the majority of the ink. The stubborn spots that remained wiped right off with acetone nail polish remover. A quick wipe out with soap and water removed the chemicals and left her dryer sparkling clean.
4. Fix a ChapStick mistake (h/t The Spruce)
You stick your lipstick or ChapStick in your pocket and forget it until you find it in your load of clean, but now stained, laundry. First, wipe out both your washer and dryer to remove any leftover residue and protect future loads from staining. Remove ChapStick stains on clothes with a good soak in an enzyme-based stain remover or laundry soap. If the offending beauty product was colored, you may need to use an oxygen-based stain remover to remove any color stain. Wash as normal and then inspect. Repeat the process until all stains are removed. 
5. Unshrink a sweater (h/t Clean Organized Family Home)
You just didn't pay attention and your favorite sweater now fits someone half your size. Don't pass it down to a child just yet. You can often gently stretch a shrunken sweater back to its original size. Start by soaking in warm water and two tablespoons of baby shampoo. Gently rinse in cool water and press out the excess water. Roll in a towel to get as dry as possible. Gently stretch out the sweater and pin down to an ironing board or cork board. Restretch every few hours until it reaches the original size.
6. Reduce Fading (h/t Lola Lambchops)
If you notice your jeans and darker clothing seem to be fading quickly, you may need to make a few adjustments to make your clothes last longer. Chances are you are using the preset wash temperatures on your washing machine. You only need to wash on warm or hot when clothes are extremely soiled. An outfit you just wore to work or school doesn't need hot water. Reducing the water temperature to cold can reduce the wear and tear on your clothes. You save money by reducing your hot water usage and in keeping your clothes looking new longer.
7. Do laundry when your machine breaks down (h/t Let's Camp More)
Washing machines have a sense of humor and love to break down just when you need them the most. Although this tip was designed for camping, you can use it in a pinch. While waiting for the machine repair man, you can still wash that uniform that's needed for the game or your daughter's favorite pajamas without wasting hours at the laundry mat. A bucket and a plunger does the trick. You could even use a clean plunger in your bathtub to agitate a load of clothes. Rinse, wring out all excess water, and hang to dry.
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