How often do you reuse your towels? Presenter and radio host Roman Kemp this week sparked a serious online debate over that very question, after posing the query to his 318,000 Twitter followers.
Cleaning our best towels is something we all do on a (somewhat) regular basis. But the question of how many times to use them before cleaning them is a different matter entirely. In response to his question, Roman received a huge variety of replies, with some people insisting that they clean theirs after every use – and others admitting that they can go two weeks without washing theirs.
So what is the right approach? When we’re wondering how often we should clean items in our house, where do our towels come in? Should we be cleaning them on a weekly basis – or more often? We spoke to the experts to find out.
How many times can you reuse a towel?
Plenty of Twitter users were keen to express their thoughts about how many times they reckon you can reuse a towel.
Some commenters shared that they tend to wash their towels once a week, meaning that they’ll use them around 4-5 times in that time. However, others explained that theirs gets cleaned much more frequently, with another saying, ‘I use a fresh one each time.’
Lots of people also pointed out that it depends on which towel you’re referring to, with some mentioning that there is a big difference in frequency of use between a hand towel and bath towels.
So just how many times should we be reusing a towel if we want to stay as hygienic as possible? According to Heidi Phillips, cleaning and decluttering expert at The Organised Home and Mind (opens in new tab), ‘A towel is essentially used to dry a clean body – so you should be able to use it at least 3-4 times.’
She stressed though that the number of times you can reuse your towel is dependent on how well you air it out in between uses.
‘The problem really comes when people don’t hang their towels up to dry after use, and instead leave them bunched up on the towel rail or even worse, leave them in a heap on the floor,’ Heidi told us. ‘This causes the towel to remain damp, which not only makes it unpleasant to use next time but creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.’
Cleaning expert Laura Mountford (opens in new tab), who wrote the soon-to-be-released book Live, Laugh, Laundry (opens in new tab), agreed that three uses is about right for the average person. She said, ‘I would wash a bath towel after every three uses. Unless you are unwell and don’t want to transfer germs, it doesn’t need to be washed after every use.’
However, she urged that a more regular cleaning routine should be implemented for hand towels. ‘For hand towels – they should be washed more frequently – I’d advise every couple of days, as you are washing your hands much more frequently than you are having a bath or shower, there’s more bacteria.’
Joyce French, cleaning and laundry expert at HomeHow (opens in new tab) agreed, saying, ‘When it comes to bath towels, you should aim to wash these after every three uses.
‘If your towel dries quickly and thoroughly after each use, you may be able to extend this to 4 – 5 days. However, three days is the best option. This is important to prevent germs and bacteria from accumulating on the towel.’
So how exactly should we be washing our towels to keep them as clean as possible? In order to have soft, fresh and lovely-smelling towels, Laura suggests, ‘Wash towels with a 3-step routine; laundry detergent; biological is best as it contains enzymes which will get rid of the germs and it’s good for stain removal too.
‘Then, use fabric conditioner for a pleasant, long-lasting scent and to keep your towels nice and fluffy. I also like to use in-wash scent boosters; pour them in the drum’