Most people assume that towels used to dry clean bodies can virtually never get dirty, but true laundry professionals know that cannot be further from the truth. While the same towel may be able to sustain a couple of uses, it’s not as simple as washing them just one time a week.
Generally speaking, bath towels that are allowed to dry properly should be washed every two to three days, or every three to four uses. If you notice an unusual smell or texture, you should wash them right away regardless of timing.
Because towels absorb and retain large amounts of water for hours, they provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Even gently used towels provide a moist and dark enough environment for microbes such as mold, yeast, and E. coli to grow and spread. This is also why it is important to never share a towel with someone, as you never know what you can be exposed to.
When to Wash More Frequently
In some cases, towels should be washed after each use, for example:
- If the towel comes into contact with body fluids, such as perspiration, blood, etc.
- If you are sick
- If the towel has been damp for an extended period of time
- If you have sensitive or irritated skin
Best Practices Between Washes
To cut down on bacteria growth on your towels between washes, allow them to air-dry completely. Damp towels should be placed on a drying rack/rod or draped in a position that leaves the majority of surface area open to the air. In bathrooms that hold onto a lot of warm, moist air, it can be beneficial to crack open a window to let it out. Folding damp towels or leaving them on the floor in humid conditions will restrict air circulation and promote the growth of bacteria.