“That bath towel you use after your shower is not as clean as you might think. Bacteria and germs are all over it. Caspar Benson/Getty Images
For many people, a weekly bath towel change is the norm. You’re all clean after a nice, hot shower, so your towel should be good for a while, right? Well, although your body is feeling delightfully fresh, the average towel collects tens of millions of dead skin cells as well as any fungi or bacteria that survived your scrubdown. Since private parts also come in contact with towels, urinary and anal secretions are also quickly transferred to the dirty towel bandwagon.
Here’s a little more salt for the wound: Most toilets aren’t all that far away from the shower, and droplets of toilet water have been known to reach far and wide when flushed … leaving your damp, hanging towel at risk.
Speaking of damp, every moment a towel is left out to dry allows germs to multiply unchecked. The humid atmosphere so common to bathroom areas simply is perfect for encouraging the growth of mildew and other undesirable stuff.
Fortunately, towel care and maintenance isn’t exactly rocket science; it just requires a little more effort than most people currently put forth. Experts recommend hanging the towel in a manner where it can dry completely (that is, not in a wet pile on your tile floor or scrunched up on the bar). Also, encourage air circulation and quicker drying by opening a window or turning on the bathroom’s ventilator fan. If at any point, it starts to smell funky, it’s not the towel’s natural scent – it’s the mildew a-thriving, and the towel definitely needs to be washed.
Even if you follow all of those steps, don’t go more than three uses without washing your bath towel thoroughly, and make sure to use warm or hot water with detergent, preferably along with color-appropriate bleach, for good measure.
Follow those steps and you’ll be able to blissfully scrub-a-dub without fear.
Now That’s Interesting
Kitchen towels come in contact with some pretty treacherous bacteria, like e. coli. Experts say to machine wash and dry them after every single use, or at least thoroughly dunk them in a solution of diluted bleach before re-using them.