An expert has revealed how often we should really be washing our towels and it might surprise you.

We're probably all guilty of using a towel longer than we should have but do you know how frequently we're actually supposed to clean them?

Interior designer and Head of Brand at Piglet in Bed, Rhiannon Johns, has revealed that you should be washing your towels far more often than you might think.

Piglet in Bed has spoken with a cleaning professional at Fantastic Services,  Polya Petrova, to share the truth behind our overused towels.

What happens if you don't wash your towels?

These are the most common bacteria you will find on your towels when you don't wash them:

  • Staph. This bacteria is commonly found on human skin and can thrive in humid environments. It can potentially cause skin infections, including small cysts, folliculitis, reddish sores, cellulitis, and more severe, invasive soft-tissue infections
  • E. coli.  While many types of E. coli are harmless, some can cause digestive issues. The contamination can happen through contact with faecal matter, especially if the towels are used around the space of the toilets. The most dangerous types of this bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, neonatal meningitis, hemorrhagic colitis, and Crohn's disease
  • Salmonella. Similar to E. coli, Salmonella can be found on towels if they come into contact with contaminated surfaces, resulting in illness
  • Enterococcus. These bacteria are often found in the intestines and can be found on towels if they come into contact with faecal material
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae. This bacteria can cause respiratory and urinary tract infections and can be found in humid environments, such as the bathroom

Polya commented: “The spreading of these bacteria depends on several factors, such as the humidity levels in your bathroom, the temperature, and the other type[s] of bacteria present.

"These bacteria can also multiply rapidly if they are provided with the ideal conditions, potentially doubling in number every 20 minutes, but regular washing of your towels and proper drying can help you control their growth.”

How often should I clean my towels?

“Now we know what bacteria is hiding in our towels it is clear that we should be washing them much more regularly," according to Rhiannon. 

"As we are about to move into the warmer months, this becomes even more important as temperatures begin to increase, creating ideal breeding grounds for bacteria.

"To prevent the growth of these bacteria and potentially lead to illnesses, we should be washing our towels every 2-3 uses.”

How to clean your towels properly

Rhiannon has also shared her top tips to help you wash your towels properly:

Avoid bleach and fabric softeners

Avoid using harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach, as it could affect the quality and colour of your towels.

Adding fabric softener coats the fibres with residue, which can hinder water absorption. Instead, use wool dryer balls to help fluff fibres and speed up drying time.

Keep your clothes and towels separate when washing

Washing towels with clothes can transfer a lot of bacteria between each item in the washing cycle.

Putting towels in their own load allows them to dry easier, as damp towels typically dry slower than clothes.”

Make sure you shake any excess water from your towels before placing them in the dryer, as this will help fluff the material and keep it absorbent.

Avoid leaving wet towels to sit in the washer for a long time, as this can result in an unpleasant musty smell.

Dry your towels on low heat or air-dry

Your towels will last longer if you dry them on low heat, as high heat will damage the cotton fibres.

Dry on a 40-degree heat, which will help achieve your desired softness, eliminating bacteria in the process.

In the summer months, take advantage of the sun to let your towels air dry.

This is the ultimate all-natural dryer that helps maintain the integrity of the fabric and keeps your towels soft and fresh.

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Store clean towels in a cupboard outside of the bathroom

Bathrooms can get quite steamed up when someone is bathing or showering, which means any towels stored in the bathroom are likely to absorb this moisture.

Keeping them in a regularly moist environment is going to keep them damp and in turn harbour and nurture the growth of unwanted bacteria, before you even use it.

By storing clean towels outside of the bathroom in a dry area such as a linen cupboard or airing cupboard, your towels will remain clean, dry, and free of harmful bacteria.