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Old 09-07-2004, 07:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 13,356
Why do hotel towels smell like that?

One of the things I like about staying in hotels is the towels - you get a nice stack of thick, clean fluffy white towels. But have you ever noticed the particular smell that hotel towels always seem to have? It's not an unpleasant smell - in fact I kind of like it as I associate it with the thick fluffy towels - but it's kind of odd; difficult to describe but maybe slightly acidic, almost vinegary but not quite. The smell seems to be pretty much universal, at least among big chain business hotels.

No detergent or fabric conditioner I've ever come across smells like that, so what gives? Is there some kind of special hotel-towel detergent, or what? Or is this particular smell just a figment of my imagination?
Old 09-07-2004, 08:59 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Inara's shuttle
Posts: 3,826
They always smell like bleach to me.
Old 09-07-2004, 09:28 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,962
I'd describe the smell as being similar to that of carbolic soap; I suspect they are boil-washed with very strong detergent to keep them nice and hygienic and pristine-looking.
Old 09-08-2004, 12:48 AM
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 1,140
Originally Posted by Turek
They always smell like bleach to me.
me too
Old 09-08-2004, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 13,356
Hmm, it doesn't smell like bleach to me - it's a more acidic sort of smell, and with no chlorine tang. Maybe just my schnozz playing up I guess.
Old 09-08-2004, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 10,551
Very, very strange, but to me towels given out at our high school locker room and at health clubs smell like Fritos corn chips to me.
Old 09-08-2004, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Amongst the Simi-ans
Posts: 6,169
Originally Posted by Hampshire
Very, very strange, but to me towels given out at our high school locker room and at health clubs smell like Fritos corn chips to me.

I think that's just the overwhelming smell of the socks.

<Mushu>So a couple guys don't rinse out their socks. Picky, picky, picky. Myself,
I kinda like that corn-chip smell.
Old 09-08-2004, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 10,581
I used to work at a hotel, and in a pinch, I washed towels once or twice.

The machines in which the towels are washed have various buttons on them, indicating which items are being washed. There are different soap conatainers attatched, and when a button is pushed, the machine dispenses the proper type of soap and proper temperature of water.

The soap is a commercial grade substance. When I worked there, it came in huge jugs, which was ordered from the company catalog along with other standard items like the shampoos and ashtrays. Many chains used this same catalog. (You'd just indicate which logo you needed on the stuff.) That's why the smell is so consistant.

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