Feeling fresh and rejuvenated after bathing or showering is a joy many of us look forward to as part of our daily routine. However, as our recent survey discovered, for 1 in 6 people their towel cleaning habits could be negating their personal hygiene.
To help understand just how often people should be washing their towels, we’ve taken a look at how often people ‘should’ be washing their bath, hand, beach, kitchen, sport and face towels, whilst surveying over 1,000 UK residents as to their bath towel cleaning habits.
- Key Findings
- Towel washing habits survey
- How often should you wash your towels?
- Why should you wash your towels frequently?
- What does washing your towels frequently do?
- How should you wash your towels?
- 1 in 6 people in the UK leave it two weeks or longer to wash their bath towels
- 1 in 3 people wash their towels once a week, with an additional 11% washing daily and 22% every few days
- The average person should be washing their towels every three (3) to five (5) days
- 1 in 7 males between the age of 35 and 44 wash their towel just once a month or longer
- Beach and pool towels should be washed or changed every other day, if not daily
- Before washing your towel you should let them dry then add to the laundry
Towel washing habits survey
“I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me.” This appears to be the attitude of one (1) in six (6) people in the UK who don’t change or wash their towel for two weeks or more, with 1 in 13 washing their towels once a month or longer.
This is far longer than the three (3) to five (5) days/uses that people should be using their bath towel for, before changing and/or washing it.
Our data revealed that 18% of men compared to just 14% of women use their towels for two weeks or more before washing them, with 1 in 12 (9%) of men using their bath towel for at least a month before washing it (compared to just 6% of women).
In comparison, almost three quarters (74%) of women wash their towels at least once a week, whilst just 58% of men do the same.
In terms of age groups least likely to wash their towels frequently, more than 1 in 5 (21%) of 25 to 44-year-olds wait two weeks or more to wash their towels; with those aged between 35 and 44 the least likely to wash or change their bath towel more than once a month.
Meanwhile the older you get the more likely you’ll wash your towel more frequently, 77% of over 55s wash their towels once a week or more, with 2 in 5 (40%) of over 65s washing their towels daily or every few days.
The results of our survey showed that men aged between 35 and 44 are the least likely to wash their towel frequently enough. Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) of males between 35 and 44 leave it two weeks or longer to wash their towel; with 1 in 7 (14%) washing their towel once a month or longer.
How often should you wash your towels?
In light of the findings of our survey, the team at Homecure Plumbers have taken a look into how frequently we should be washing our towels.
From bath and hand towels to sports and kitchen towels, our new guide gives an insight into just how frequently you should be cleaning the towels you use every day.
- Wash how often: 3 – 5 days or uses
The average person should look to change and wash their bath towel(s) every three (3) to five (5) days. This is based on using your towel once per day, with the towel given adequate time and conditions to dry between uses.
With this in mind, if you bathe/shower more than once a day (morning and evening) or are unable to fully dry your towel between uses, you should be looking to wash you towel every two (2) to three (3 days).
This might sound a bit excessive, however, whilst bathe cleanses most ‘dead’ skin and other grime, some remains.
The friction of the towel leading to fibres picking up detritus, grime and microbes, which can then act to spread infections to new parts of the body, block pores or cause general irritation and redness (especially if you live with eczema or other skin conditions).
- Wash how often: 1 – 2 days
On average, bathroom hand towels should be washed every two (2) days, however, for some households, this should really be daily.
Rarely given time to dry between uses, and used after going to the loo, hand towels can easily pick up and breed forms of grime; especially if people fail to wash their hands properly before rubbing their hands on the fabric.
In smaller households, this is unlikely to be a major issue. However, in larger households (large families or shared houses etc) such potential for spread could see people pick up ‘bugs’.
As such, if you live in a large household, try changing your hand towels daily, or if not daily every other day at least.
- Wash how often: After each use
Sports towels should be washed as soon as possible after their use, with time given to allow them to air dry before being added to the wash.
Coming into contact with your own sweat and (more unnervingly) the sweat and fluids of other gym users, a sports towel can pick up various nasties and pore-blocking grime.
To counter spreading germs or nasties building up on used towels, that are then kept in warm and dark sports bags, sports towel users should wash their towel after every sports or gym session.
Note: Remember to allow your sports towel to air dry before adding it to your laundry basket or the washing machine. This helps combat the spread of germs and general detritus that can spread more easily if the garment is ‘damp’.
Wash how often: 1 -2 days
You might be on holiday but hygiene never stops, beach and pool towels should be washed at least every other day; remembering to air daily and in some cases rinse daily.
Lounging on them for hours on end, often sweating or dripping from a dip in the water, the fibres of our beach towels can become filled with natural grime; plus sunscreen and bits of dirt and sand.
To prevent the build-up of potential acne-causing irritants, you should look to change or wash your beach towel every other day when on holiday.
However, in between washes, giving your beach towel a good shake to remove excess sand and dirt, and leaving it to air and dry overnight on a balcony etc. will help prevent (or at least lessen) any irritation the next day.
Whilst the guide of every other day is a good one, you should also use common sense, if you’re in particularly sweaty climates or the towel is laid on the ground/a heavily used deck chair, you should look to change or wash your towel daily.
Kitchen & tea towels
- Wash how often: 1 -2 days
Your kitchen (or tea) towel should be washed every other day at least. This is in part due to the functions of the towel and its level of use within the average household.
If used to dry kitchen utensils, kitchen (tea) towels can become sodden with moisture, as well as picking up food remnants, meaning they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and other nasties. With this in mind, people should change or wash their ‘drying’ towel daily or (at least) every other day.
For some, however, their kitchen towel becomes another hand towel. In these cases washes every two (2) days is best, like a regular hand towel, with more frequent daily washes if the household is large or mixed.
Wiping up is also common use for kitchen towels, in these instances people should look to wash their towel as soon as possible afterwards, to help prevent any spread or growth of any grime picked up.
- Wash how often: 1 -2 days
Face towels, due to the areas of the body they’re used for, should be changed or washed daily at best, or at least every other day.
This is due to them being used for cleansing your face and/or makeup removal, as such, face towels naturally require a lot of looking after as they come into contact with easily irritated skin during their use.
The primary reason for needing to care for your face towels is that during use they come into contact with a range of potential pore-blocking materials; such as natural oils, dirt, dead skin and make-up detritus.
These potential pore blockers and skin irritants can lead to acne breakouts and redness, or if you’re prone to dry skin/eczema, flare-ups of dryness and sensitivity.
To prevent breakouts and flare-ups, face towels should be washed at least every two (2) days, however, to be safe, daily changing and washing are best.
Towel washing guide
|Towel Type||How Often Should They Be Washed||As A Minimum|
|Bath Towels||Every three (3) – five (5) uses/days||Once per week|
|Hand Towels||Every day – two (2) days||Every other day|
|Sports Towels||After each use||After each use|
|Beach Towels||Every day – two (2) days||Every other day|
|Kitchen Towels||Every day – two (2) days||Every other day|
|Face Towels||Every day – two (2) days||Every other day|
Why should you wash your towels frequently?
There are several key reasons to wash your towels frequently, the most prominent of being to prevent the build-up of grime, dead cells, and other nasties in the fabric.
On average, a bath towel will wipe across 19 million skin cells and 650 sweat glands per-use, so shouldn’t come as a surprise that your towel will pick up a few thousand skin cells, traces of sweat and body oils during each use, even more so if you have dry skin.
In addition to skin cells, your towels also pick up dirt, bacterial or fungal cultures that have survived the washing process, leaving them embedded in the fibres of a damp and warm material for hours on end.
Simply put, your towel can become a bacterial/fungal breeding ground without regular washing, leading to skin infections, blocked pores, skin irritation and foul smells.
What does washing your towels frequently do?
The obvious and main reason to wash your towel is to cleanse the fabric, with frequent washing ensuring build-ups of potential germs and detritus don’t occur.
However, that isn’t the only reason.
Frequent towel washing also makes you feel (and smell) fresher – rather than wiping your hands, body, face utensils with something that is spread a smell, the fresh feeling and smell making you (and those around you) feel better.
A decent bath towel costing £20-£30 each, towels aren’t something you want to be buying too frequently. That’s why washing often and regularly is advised, the regular cleaning, treating and drying, ensuring the fabric lasts for longer and you don’t need to buy new towels as often.
How should you wash your towels?
To help you stay on top of your towel washing and ensure you get the best results, here are our top tips for washing your towels:
- Change your towels frequently – as per our towel washing guide
- Dry your towels before adding them to the laundry basket or machine
- Ideally, have a separate laundry pile for towels and similar fabrics and garments
- Sperate your towels from your other garments, ideally creating weekly (or twice weekly) towel washing loads
- Use a ‘regular’ amount of detergent and suitable high temperature (as per label)
- For added freshness, a laundry booster or vinegar in your rinse cycle can reduce odours
- Towels don’t need fabric softeners, save your cash and towels lifespan
- Regularly set a day to sanitize your washing machine, this helps clear dirt and grime build-ups in the machine
- Sanitize your washing machine with anti-bacterial washing machine cleaners (or even vinegar) and set on an empty rinse cycle
- Don’t overpack or fill your machine, this reduces the effectiveness and can lead to grime spreading between garments in the cycle
- Ensure the towel is fully dry before storing or using, washing dryers provide a softer feel but air drying is more economical
Methodology & Sources:
Our survey asked 1,003 UK residents about their bath towel washing habits between 21/04/21 and 28/04/21, using Google Surveys. Data was analysed internally with figures based on overall respondents.
- Female: 40.88%
- Male: 43.47%
- Prefer not to say: 16.65%
- 18-24: 9.17%
- 25-34: 14.16%
- 35-44: 11.57%
- 45-54: 15.45%
- 55-64: 16.25%
- 65+: 13.46%
- Prefer not to say: 19.94%