The question of how often you need to wash towels, bath mats and rugs is a common one. If you stay in a hotel, you would expect the towels to be freshly laundered, but at home, it is very easy to overlook the fact you haven’t washed a towel for a week or two, particularly if it is a colour that doesn’t show the dirt. So how often should you be throwing these items into the laundry basket?
Mould and Bacteria
Hygiene is a big issue in a bathroom. Water, moist air and a lack of ventilation can all cause mould, mildew and harmful bacteria to build up. Towels are absorbent, so they hold on to moisture. Damp towels soon become a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs. Hanging a damp towel on a radiator or heated towel rail will help it to dry out faster, but if the heating isn’t on during the day, damp towels stay damp for extended periods of time.
Every time you use a towel to dry off your body when you step out the shower or bath, dead skin cells collect in the fibres of the towel. Over time, that’s a lot of exfoliated skin!
Hand towels are used multiple times a day: for drying hands and wiping faces. If there are four people living in your home, that’s an awful lot of use for one towel every single day.
Washing Bath Towels
Whether you have a shower once a day or every three days, it really doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that you wash your towel every 3-5 times you use it. So if you have a shower every other day, your towel needs washing about once a week. Ideally a towel should be left to dry out completely between each use, preferably on a heated towel rail or over a radiator. But, if your towel never has the opportunity to dry out thoroughly, it needs washing more frequently.
Washing Hand Towels
Hand towels get a lot more use, so these need washing regularly. The more people sharing the bathroom, the more often you need to wash your hand towels. Experts advise that a hand towel should be laundered every two or three days. For this reason, it is sensible to have a stack of clean towels on the go, so you can throw the dirty one on the laundry basket and replace it with a fresh one.
Washing Bath Mats
Bathmats don’t have the luxury of being allowed to dry off. They usually sit in a waterproof floor, so every time someone climbs out of the bath and stands on the mat, dripping, as they towel dry their body, that’s a lot of water collecting right there.
Damp bath mats soon become a magnet for bacteria and mould, so it is sensible to wash a fabric bath mat once a week. Just throw it in with your towels. Rubber backed bath mats need to be treated with greater care, as frequent washing will destroy the rubber coating. If this is the case, wash it every 3-4 weeks and have a spare handy, in case your mat starts to look grubby.
Towels and fabric bath mats need to be washed on a warm 60 degree setting, as this is the only temperature guaranteed to eradicate germs. They can then be thrown in the tumble drier or hung on a washing line for a dose of outside freshness (note: rubber backed bath mats should be left to air dry; do not put them in a tumble drier!).
Once your towels start to look a bit threadbare or they have lost their colour, replace them with some fresh new ones.