A Simple Solution For Better Smelling, More Absorbent Towels. Over time, your bath towels will build up detergent and fabric softener residue. This not only attracts SMELLY mildew, it can essentially “waterproof” your towels. If water can’t get into the fabric to clean it, the towel won’t BE or SMELL clean. The GOOD news is that there is a very simple solution for getting rid of the build-up (and thus the SMELL)!