How often should you wash towels? Here's what the experts say

Towels stored in bathroom
Towels stored in bathroom (Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s nothing like jumping out of the shower into a soft and fluffy towel to wrap up in. But while we may feel fresh and clean, how often should you wash your towels?

Much like knowing how often you should change your bedsheets, washing towels require a good balance of care to ensure they are in top condition. On the one hand, not washing your towels often will make them unhygienic, and defeat the purpose of drying off clean skin. While overwashing towels can affect the fibers, making a towel feel scratchy or lose its fluffiness — check out how to make your towels feel soft and fluffy again if you're suffering from this. And while you may think that you clean your towels regularly (or when they look dirty), most people are simply not washing their towels often enough. 

So, how often should you wash your towels? We find out what the experts say, and you’ll be surprised. 

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How often should you wash your towels? 

Pile of towels

Pile of towels (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The general rule of thumb is to wash bath towels (or change to a fresh one) at least once a week or after three uses. This is to prevent any germs or bacteria developing on your towel, and is more hygienic as a result. Similarly, The American Cleaning Institute recommends that towels should be washed "after three to five normal uses," and hung out to dry thoroughly after each use. Since germs like to thrive in damp, porous conditions, this is the best way to prevent growth. 

Dr Beckmann (eco laundry detergent brand) spokesperson Susan Fermor agrees: "It may be a surprise to some, but we would recommend washing your towels after at least three uses." 

Of course, how often you should wash your towels depends on your lifestyle, and how frequently you shower or bathe. If you've been doing workouts at the gym or have excess sweat, experts advise to wash or change towels after one use as they quickly absorb body secretions and oils. The same rule applies if you are sick to avoid reinfection, or prone to allergies such as eczema or sensitive skin.

Hand towels should be washed or changed every one to two days since these are used more frequently. So if you have a large household with more people sharing towels, you can expect to find more germs and nasties lurking in fibers.  

Why is it important to wash your towels often?

Loading white towels into washing machine

Loading white towels into washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Besides the question of how often you should wash your towels, knowing how to wash towels is equally important. Each time you dry off your skin, you transfer dead skin cells, dirt and bodily secretions onto your towel. Since towels absorb water, this is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria growth when left damp. That’s why washing your towels often can prevent the accumulation and spread of viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Towels must always be fully dry before each use. 

When should you buy new towels?

Bath towels can technically last for years, but once they turn scratchy, frayed, torn or non-absorbent, they’re no longer effective. Experts suggest you should buy new towels every two years to get the best bath regime results.  

If you want more laundry tips, check out how to clean a washing machine for best performance. Or else you’ll end up wondering how to fix a shaky washing machine from wear and tear. Also, did you know that this is the cheapest time to do your laundry

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!