How Often Should You Wash Your Towels

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Having to wash your towels regularly may seem like a dreary chore. You’re using up detergent and water which adds to your household expenses. But, do you really want to use that bacteria-loaded towel to dry your clean body after your shower? Chances are you don’t.

Recently, there was a Dr. Oz poll showing various opinions on how many times you should use your towel before you wash it. Of the respondents, 16 percent said they wash their towels every day. The majority of the respondents, however, said they went longer. Around 33 percent said they washed their towels 2 or 3 times weekly; 40 percent once weekly. The other 11 percent said they waited a couple weeks or more to wash their towels.

Bath Towels

Your bath towel is extremely dirty. Just using it the first time turns it into a breeding ground for:

  • Dead skin cells
  • Fungi
  • Salivary
  • Bacteria
  • Urinary and anal secretions
  • Other lingering bathroom germs

When you use your towel to absorb the moisture from your freshly-showered body, secretions like cellular debris and microbes living on your body surface get onto your towel. Air deposits and cellular debris are actually food for the microbes and their neutral pH water source is the moisture.

Your body provides an ideal living environment for germs and when you use your towel to dry off, it becomes a breeding ground for these germs since it then contains most of the things microbes need to survive:

  • Oxygen
  • Water
  • Food
  • Warm temperatures
  • Neutral pH

It’s difficult to know if these microbes that now grow on your towel are bad for your health since many of the household germs around aren’t harmful.

Sharing towels with other people, however, is a different story. It leaves your body vulnerable to coming in contact with organisms it doesn’t usually deal with like Staphylococcus aureus that could cause pimples, boils or an infection.

Dish Towels

This goes for dish towels too. If you’re using a kitchen towel to dry your silverware, for instance, you’re likely drying your spoons and forks with germs. In fact, the University of Arizona conducted a study in 2014 that showed around 89 percent of dish towels had coliform bacteria on them. This bacteria is found in the digestive tracts of both humans and animals and is used for measuring the contamination in water. Furthermore, 25 percent of dish towels test positive for E. coli.

Even having a separate towel to clean your countertops is still not good enough and is probably the household towel you should be most concerned with. While you believe you’re cleaning the area you’ll be placing food, if you aren’t using a clean kitchen towel, you could be exposing your food to a boatload of bacteria.

How Often Should You Wash Your Towels?

Chances are you’re like many people where you wash your towel when it begins to smell. After all, this is a good way to know when your towel is dirty, right? Wrong.  You should wash towels often.

Here’s a good rule of thumb:

  • Bath towels:  Wash them after every 3 to 4 uses
  • Hand towels: Wash them every 2 to 3 days
  • Dish towels: Wash them at least once a week

While the worst thing that could happen to you by using dirty towels is you’ll wind up sick, experts say this is unlikely if you keep up with your hand washing and wash your towels regularly.  What’s likely to occur? After you use your towels a few times, it will be covered in bacteria which you’ll then wipe your shower-clean body making you smell musty.


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