How Often Should I Wash My Bath Towel?

To prevent germs and yucky smells, bath towels must we washed. The question is--how often?


Idle hands may be the devil’s playground, but a layabout towel is a back-to-back Coachella weekend for bacteria. To prevent germs (and their sidekick, rank odors) from proliferating in the fibers of your monogrammed L.L.Bean, towels should be washed every few days, or as soon as they start to smell like a gym locker.

Odor matters because it signifies the presence of germs—and the longer a towel stays damp, the more bacteria grows on it. “If there’s any odor coming from the towel, don’t use it,” says Philip Tierno, professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU. To help keep your towels fresh, let them dry after each use by hanging them up in a well-ventilated area.

But purely eliminating moisture won’t completely stop the party for pathogens: “If the towel contains body fluids—for instance, blood or perspiration—they should be washed after each use,” explains Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute.

Which means that if your towel comes close to any summer music festivals, you need to ticket it for the washing machine immediately.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question—especially when it comes to your body, your health or your hygiene. Send us the things that you’ve always wondered about to