How often change towels? Studies show: The answer makes you shudder

Deepak Gupta January 19, 2022
Updated 2022/01/19 at 5:18 PM

Every time you wash yourself, the rinsed dirt ends up in one place, and that’s in the towel. The longer you use the same textile, the more unpleasant components collect there. In the worst case, bacteria can even appear near the toilet when flushing with the lid open. So before you next wipe your face with it, ask yourself how often you really should wash your towels.

How often wash towels? An answer from microbiology

Every time you wipe dirt off your face, hands, body, or hair, you use a towel that leaves it behind. The textiles are also often not far from your toilet, which can throw germs up to six meters away when the toilet is flushed if the toilet lid is open. You can guess how often you really should wash your towels.

In fact, the answer is even more drastic than many might think. At least if it is according to the microbiologist Professor Dr. Charles Gerba leaves. In his opinion, you should Wash towels after each use (in some cases), but in general after three days at the latest.

“Our tests indicate that face and bath towels should be changed at least every three days.”

dr Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology, immunology and public health at the University of Arizona (via Mindbodygreen)

A few years ago, Gerba carried out several studies on towel use. He and his team found that 80 percent of the towels that had not been cleaned for three days or more faecal bacteria. These got into the textiles through hand washing and could multiply there due to the humid conditions.

Expert Tip: Pay attention to one detail when washing towels

Apart from how often towels have to be washed, according to Gerba it also depends on how this is done. His investigations also showed that many of the bacteria in question survived washing that was too cold. Among other things, he attributes this to the thickness of the textiles, which would make it difficult to remove.

Washing towels in hot water is therefore the better alternative. This also corresponds to the common rule of water temperatures of at least 40 degrees, but for hygienic cleanliness 60 to 95 degrees to build.

According to Gerba, if you use a dryer, you should also set it to a higher setting. On the other hand, if the towels dry in the air, it is advisable to only pack them away when they no longer contain any residual moisture. Complete dryness is also recommended before the next use.

Wash towels properly (instructions)

Apart from the right temperature to effectively kill germs, the cleaning procedure is also important. So if you want to wash towels properly, follow these steps:

  1. Sort towels by color and material
  2. Fill the washing machine drum optimally
  3. Select the appropriate washing program and detergent depending on the towel
  4. Towels spin at 1400 to 1600 rpm
  5. Use the dryer for extra soft towels

Extra tip: If the towels are new, wash them before using them for the first time. Due to impregnation by the manufacturer, they are initially less receptive to moisture.

More about proper hygiene: That’s what science advises

In addition to the question of how often it is actually advisable to wash towels, other and similar issues have also been scientifically examined. Studies give advice on how often you should wash bed linen. But there are also interesting findings on personal hygiene. Including a method for washing hair and an unusual recommendation on how often to shower.

Sources: University of Arizona, Mindbodygreen

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