Is It Time To Toss The Towel?

Just how long can you get away with reusing that towel? You know the one… It’s been hanging in the bathroom for days (or longer), and you’re probably wondering whether to toss it in the laundry or the garbage can.

We’ve got some guidelines, via CNET of all places, on just how often you should be running it through the wash.

Just about every family seems to include one person who thinks you can go weeks without switching out a bath towel for a clean one. The yin to their yang is the person who says you need a fresh towel for every person, every day. Who’s right? Neither, actually.

See, for the most part, when we use a bath towel we’re clean. That means the towel isn’t necessarily in need of a wash after just one bath or shower. BUT if you hang that now damp towel to dry, it has the potential to become a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, or even mold.


A bath towel should be washed – at minimum – every third to fourth use. More if you’re sick, or if your bathroom is particularly damp, and the towel can’t dry thoroughly between uses. Otherwise there’s an increased chance of germs multiplying.

Also, you want to handle towels differently than the rest of your laundry. A load of t-shirts should be just fine at an energy-efficient temperature, while towels need a little more cleaning power.

The Infection Control Department of Mid-Western Regional Hospital of Ennis, Ireland recommends washing towels in water that is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or more to kill bacteria.

Newer washers have a “sanitize” feature. If yours does not, you may want to consider bumping up the dial on your hot water tank. (Just be mindful of the burn risk, especially if you have small children.)