This Is How Often You Should Be Changing Your Towel

Can you actually reuse your bath towel multiple times, or is it causing you problems?

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Making sure you keep yourself clean doesn't necessarily mean you have the cleanliest habits. After all, how often have you hopped out of the shower just to wrap yourself in a towel you've already used several times before? While many people think this may be an innocuous habit, it can quickly get out of hand. According to experts, you should be changing your towel after every two to three uses.

But it turns out, many people aren't following that advice. According to a Business Insider poll from 2019, only 20 percent of people wash their towel after no more than three uses. In fact, 17 percent admitted that they only wash their towels a few times per month. Read on to find out why you should be changing your towel more often, and for more hygiene habits you should be avoiding, discover the One Body Part You Should Never Shave.

You should wash your towels after three uses at most.

Male hand holding wooden laundry basket with white towel inside near washing machine in laundry room. Home living concept
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Dean Davies, a cleaning specialist at Fantastic Cleaners, says you should try to wash your towel after it's been used twice, but Beth McCallum, a content creator at cleaning website Oh So Spotless, says you're probably safe using it a third time before cleaning.

"I would say that most people don't wash their bath towels as often as they need to be washed," Davies warns. "There are many who go a full month using the same bath towel throughout." And for more things you may not be washing enough, You're Forgetting to Wash This Body Part Every Time You Shower.

This is because towels can harbor bacteria and mold.

A soft bath towel hung on a chrome rack with bead-board background.
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According to McCallum, bath towels are often exposed to dirt and bacteria—not to mention that they're usually left damp, which allows them to "harbor bacteria and mold." This can trigger allergic reactions, but Davies says the bacteria can progress into further harm. A "dirty towel can lead to irritated skin and even spread staph infection," he notes. And for more things that could cause health complications, this is The One Thing in Your Home You're Not Cleaning That's Making You Sick.

And they may develop bad smells.

Shot of a young woman smelling freshly washed towels while doing laundry at home
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Abe Navas, general manager of house cleaning service Emily's Maids, says a used and unwashed towel can easily develop bad odors over time, especially if it's harboring bacteria and mold. And as much as you may think it's not rubbing off on you, it is.

"If your towel smells, then you will smell," Navas says. "Never underestimate how you will smell—you get used to your own odor, so knowing when you smell can be quite difficult." And for more on body odor, find out What's Really Making You Smell Bad, According to Science.

Certain people may need to wash their towels more frequently.

Closeup shot of a woman holding a stack of towels at home
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Two to three times is not exact science, however. Davies says the "frequency at which you wash your towel does depend on how much bodily fluids it has soaked up." That means if you're wiping off sweat after a workout, you should immediately throw that towel in the laundry basket. And if you have sensitive skin or eczema, he also says you should wash your towels more often to prevent further irritation. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

And you should replace your towels completely after a few years.

Mature woman shopping for bathroom towels.
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Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority, says people should remember that towels have an ultimate shelf life, as well. If you wash and use them as consistently as you should, towels will "tend to fray and tear after a couple of years."

"Towels typically lose their absorbency around the two-year mark, which is a good indicator that it's time to replace them," she explains. And for more things you may need to replace, make sure you know How Often Dentists Say You Should Really Change Your Toothbrush.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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