When it comes to washing, one thing we’re probably not focusing on enough is our towels. They’re an everyday necessity that comes into contact with our bodies at the most vulnerable of times, and that makes cleaning them properly even more vital. As it turns out, there are a few rules you might not know about when it comes to washing towels.
Following a survey of UK residents in 2023, which showed that 1 in 10 people only wash their towels once a year (!!), Dr Sally Bloomfield, a home hygiene expert, spoke to the BBC to set the record straight on some mistakes we’re making with our towels.
Wash towels regularly
When it comes to washing towels, we should approach it like washing our hands – i.e. we need to do it thoroughly and regularly. But just how regularly?
Professor Bloomfield told BBC Woman’s Hour that it should be part of our weekly routine to regularly wash towels. She said it’s worth getting into a routine so that it becomes a habit rather than something that is forgotten.
If you’re wondering what the harm could be in leaving a towel a few extra days, Professor Bloomfield laid out some of the germs our towels could be harbouring:
“Towels are coming into contact with our body all the time, so we can carry Staphylococcus aureus on our skin that can cause skin infections, traces of poo from our bowel could have E. Coli in them and can cause urinary tract infections, yeasts on our skin can cause thrush, fungi on our feet can cause athlete’s foot,” she said.
“So yes, they can carry all sorts of harmful organisms and move them from one person to another in our homes.”
Use hot water
We’ve advocated for the merits of washing things in hot and cold water temperatures, but in the case of towels, Professor Bloomfield recommended hotter settings.
“When it comes to things that are in contact with your body, then you really should be washing at either 60°C, or at 40°C with a bleach-based powder product, so either a tablet or powder,” she explained.
If you are concerned about the environmental impact and electricity costs of that, Bloomfield added that it’s still better to wash your towels regularly on a lower temperature, than rarely on a high temperature.
Never share your towels
The last piece of advice might be an obvious one, but you should never be sharing your towels with others.
“It’s very important that everybody in the house has their own towel, their own bath towel and their own face cloth and their own toothbrush, because that’s a really great way to share germs,” Professor Bloomfield said.
This might seem logical when it comes to bath towels, but many of us also share a common hand towel, or a bathroom where towels are hung in close proximity to each other – which makes a regular washing routine for towels even more important.
Consider this your reminder to go and wash your towels.
Lead Image Credit: iStock
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