March 22, 2019 by JulietAyer
With so much changing daily in life we’ve grown accustomed to many things. One of them, for some, is to put things off. Some people have others take care of what needs to be taken care of. While we won’t delve too deep into why that’s a bad habit to begin, we will be speaking about our bath towels and how often they should be cleaned. If you use your towels way longer than you probably should, you’re not alone: You use ’em to wipe off your clean body, after all, what’s the harm in that? Well, basically the terry-cloth creates a breeding ground for bacteria, and trust me, it’s not the good kind. It’s very simple to say “I’ll wash it tomorrow” until you realize you’re out of towels or you’ve been using your bath towel a few days too many. You’re conserving water by reusing your bath towel and it’s clean since you’re clean when you dry off with it. As long as there’s no makeup stains and no bodily fluids, no problem, correct? Unfortunately, no. If you don’t want to transfer bacteria onto your body after you’ve taken a shower or cleaned yourself up, there are some very specific guidelines you should follow.
Do you Wash Your Bath Towels Often Enough?
Damp and reused towels are considered “breeding grounds” among microbiologists. Also, almost all bathrooms contain many elements that can lead to microbial life (water, warm temperatures, and oxygen), this is what makes them a perfect breeding ground for microbes. Simply put, if you don’t wash your towel often enough, you’ll end up drying or cleaning yourself off with one covered in bacteria, which will transfer over onto your skin that you just cleaned.
Now that I most likely have your attention you may be asking, what’s often enough? Most microbiologists and professionals in the field agree it’s in your best interest to wash your towel after three uses. Of course, as long as you let it dry completely after each use, this will keep bacteria at a distance while also preventing your towels from getting worn out quicker due to over washing and drying. After a few wash cycles, towels can start to lose that wonderful, new soft towel feel. A few more, and they’re not as absorbent as they once were. Before you know it, it’s time to buy new towels all over again.
Smells? Wash ’em!
However, if you smell something, do something. If there is an odor coming from the towel, wherever there is an odor, there are microbes present and growing. This is a good hint you should get it washed. Another thing you’ll want to avoid is sharing towels with another person or multiple people. This seemingly harmless act could very well end up transferring bacteria to you that your body isn’t used to, resulting in a boil, pimple or infection. Yikes!
Even when your towels still feel (and smell!) clean, they very well may still be dirty. And, whether they’re the small variety for your hands or full-size shower towels, the cloth can become packed with disease-spreading microbes (which are also found in your bedsheets) within a mere few days. This is especially true when they’re hanging out to dry in damp, warm areas, which is how most bathrooms feel after someone takes a hot rinse. After you’ve finished doing laundry, take a quick sniff. If you still notice a funky smell, launder them in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric, and add one or two cups of white vinegar to your cycle Then wash them again with your regular detergent. If this doesn’t do the trick, it might be time to purchase some new towels.
Washing Your Bath Towels Prevents Bacteria.
Actually, you may be quite surprised by just how much bacteria is hanging out with your towels, if you’re not washing them often enough. In one unreleased study, 90 percent of bathroom towels were contaminated with coliform bacteria, bacteria found in water that indicate disease-causing organisms could be present, and 14 percent were found to carry E. coli. I don’t believe any of us want to have those bacteria on our skin and possibly transfer them to others. And yes, as surprising as it maybe there’s even more! Moist towels were found to be a breeding ground for MRSA, and having cuts or dry skin will allow it easier for the bacteria to get into your body, which can cause infection, which can even be fatal.
The only real way to keep your body free of harmful bacteria from your towels is to do what not many people enjoy doing: laundry, and more of it than you’re most likely used to. Some microbiologists suggest it’s best to wash bathroom towels with bacteria-fighting hot water and activated oxygen bleach (or a bleach alternative) after two days of use, depending on your bathroom conditions and the number of members in your household. Furthermore, if bleach isn’t your thing, try an alternative like disinfecting lemon juice, stain-fighting vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide for example. If you simply can’t commit to so many spin cycles, at least make sure to allow your towels to completely dry between uses, which makes it nearly impossible to pass around bacteria, especially if they are dried on high heat in a dryer, rather than hang drying.
Unfortunately, even that won’t help make the towels any less stinky after multiple uses, so you might want to become besties with your washer and dryer anyway.
Now that you have some basic information about how to wash and dry your towels, there are a few more things you should keep in mind. Some of your daily habits may be ruining your towels. Here are some additional tidbits that will help your towels bacteria-free and last longer than ever:
Towels are great for cleaning up messes, but it’s okay to avoid using them for certain spills or tasks. Bleach, hair dye, makeup and other chemicals can leave your towels stained and loaded with bacteria. Each time you use a towel, lay it out flat to air dry. This ensures your towel can breathe and won’t develop mildew between washes. Wash towels in their own load, giving them their own load is more sanitary.
With that info in mind, you’ve probably figured out you don’t wash your towels as much as you should. Unless you’re a fan of growing bacteria, its a good move to toss your towels in the laundry for a wash.