Oh Good – We've Been Washing Our Towels All Wrong


If you have ever had the joy of flatmates in your 20s, you will be very familiar with the “how often do you actually wash your towels?!” argument.

You know the one, it comes right after “bins need to be actually taken out.”

Well, according to new research from the experts at Showers To You, none of us are getting it right and more than that, I have to ask, do any of you know where your washing machine is? Because it turns out that a third of Brits wash their bathroom towels once every few months?! Pardon?!

Also, just to make sure you’re fully put off your lunch, 3% of respondents wash their bathroom towels once a year, equating to 1,595,646 people based on the latest adult population estimates from the Office of National Statistics.

Lovely. Great. Perfect.

Just to be clear, you can use your towels a few times before cleaning them but you probably shouldn’t wait months at a time. While you are clean after a shower or bath, a study found 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.

Let’s not mess around with bacteria when we could just put a wash on.

Now that we’ve all agreed that we should be washing our towels more (right?! RIGHT?!), it’s time to face another hard truth: a lot of us likely haven’t been cleaning them the right way this whole time

How to actually clean bathroom towels

The TikTok cleaning queen and professional cleaner Ann Russell has revealed the best way to clean towels and surprisingly, it doesn’t always involve detergent. In a recent video, Russell stated that if you’re cleaning anything that is used to absorb moisture like towels and cloths, you shouldn’t use fabric softener as it prevents moisture from getting in and leaves these towels and cloths essentially redundant.

So, most of the time, detergent isn’t necessary but if you use products that can go on to towels such as fake tan or makeup, you’ll need detergent to really get that gone especially if, like Russell, your towels are white. However, she adds that most of the things that get deposited onto a towel like dead skin cells will come off with just plain water and if you use too much detergent, too often, or it doesn’t get rinsed off thoroughly, this can lead to “slightly itchy and slightly stiff” towels.

Russell revealed that unless there’s makeup or dirt on the towels, she simply washes them in... water. To keep them soft, she doesn’t always tumble dry them. Instead, around 30 minutes into them drying outside, she gives them a good shake and then turns them upside down. This works because, according to Russell, this opens the fibres.

She adds that she then sometimes puts them in the tumble dryer for the final part of the drying process, “just to fluff them up”.

If you’re not entirely comfortable not using detergent or softener, a little white vinegar adds softness to the towels and soda crystals for a more thorough clean.

Finally, Russell finishes with a solid piece of laundry advice: don’t overdo it. If your towels smell strongly after a wash, use less.

What a woman.