Er... This Is Actually How Often You Should Wash Your Towel

It turns out it's a lot more than you think.
Excuse us while we stick a wash on.
zhihao via Getty Images
Excuse us while we stick a wash on.

Ah, the age-old question: when should you wash your towel? It’s something we use every day and yet we still don’t know how often we should be washing it.

Do we wash it after every use? Or should we wait a week or two?

Radio host Roman Kemp is sparking up a debate after he posed the question to his 318.5K followers on Twitter and it’s safe to say that everyone has their own idea of what ‘clean’ means.

One Twitter user replied that you should only put your towel in the wash when it starts to smell - we fear how often he washes his bedsheets.

Surprisingly, some people shared that they wash their towels after three uses (and we’ve decided that we might need to reassess how often we stick a wash on).

Quite frankly, no one can agree:

So what is the answer?

How Often Should We Wash Our Towels?

Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, previously told Time that a study he conducted revealed that nearly 90% of bathroom towels were contaminated with coliform bacteria – organisms that can indicate the presence of disease-causing bacteria in water – and about 14% carried E. coli.

Sounds gross, doesn’t it?

“If someone is very good at cleaning themselves and leaves the towel looking clean, they could probably get away with several uses.
“But if they are not very good and the towel looks dirty afterwards, they might want to wash it after every use,” Dr Lisa Ackerley, aka The Hygiene Doctor, says the frequency of washing depends on the person using the bath towel.
To keep your towel free of bacteria and mould growth – and keep it smelling nice – make sure you dry it by airing it after every use, advises Professor Val Curtis, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

She recommends washing bath towels “once a week, mostly for aesthetic reasons.”

What Temperature Should We Wash Towels On?

The NHS advises washing all towels at 60°C, or 40°C if you’re using a bleach-based laundry product, to prevent germs from spreading.

Dr Ackerley believes the hotter the wash, the better. “Towels should be washed at above 60°C to ensure that bacteria and fungi are killed,” she says. “I actually go for 90°C as some machines are not always accurate about their temperature achievement.” If you wash at 30°C, you won’t kill the bacteria and fungi, she warns.

But here’s a curveball we’ve mentioned before: if the environment is your top priority, Julian Kirby, plastics campaigner at Friends of the Earth, urges you to keep washing at a low temperature – it’ll reduce plastic pollution, save energy consumption and lower your bills. Guess this one’s up to you.