How often should I wash my towels? A microbiologist reveals all

There are plenty of things that need to be kept clean in your home, but one that may slip people's minds are our bath and hand towels.

Given that we use them to dry parts of our body that we've just given a good wash, you could be forgiven for thinking that you can get away with a once weekly wash - or perhaps even less, for some.

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So how often should I wash my towels?

It seems that we should actually be washing our towels much more regularly than that, according to the experts.

Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at New York University School of Medicine, revealed that a towel - even if it's properly dried - shouldn't be used more than three times.

He explained to Tech Radar, “If you can dry it completely, no more than three times max. A damp towel is growing.

"Wherever there is odour, there are microbes growing so it should be washed.”

Towels should be cleaned regularly to avoid drying yourself off with a towel that's full of growing bacteria - yuck.

Dr. Gerba, a microbiologist, also told Time US, “After about two days, if you dry your face on a hand towel, you’re probably getting more E. coli on your face than if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it.” Pretty gross, right?


And it seems they're alone in her estimations.

Cleaning expert with Fantastic Service Ralitsa Prodanova, agrees that we should be washing our towels after every three or four uses - which, for people who shower daily, is every three or four days.

She told, "If you get a musty smell when you bring the towel up to your nose, that’s bacteria growing on the towel itself. And because towels are often warm and damp, they’re the perfect breeding ground for bugs and germs."

So is this what most people are doing?

According to a 2018 GE Appliances poll, taking in results of over 1,500 people, 50% said they'd actually use a towel five times before washing it.

But, a further 14% of respondents said they'd use a towel eight times or more before they washed it.

So what are your thoughts?

How often do you wash your towel - and is it more or less than the recommended amount?

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on