How Often Should You Change Kitchen Towels?

Have you ever thought about how often you should change your kitchen towels?

Can Kitchen Towel Be Recycled

These multi-purpose cloths are handy tools found in every household, yet many people overlook the importance of keeping them clean.

Kitchen towels can harbor harmful bacteria that can lead to foodborne illnesses or infections if not washed regularly.

Importance of Washing Kitchen Towels

Kitchen towels are used for a variety of tasks, such as wiping spills, drying dishes, and cleaning surfaces. Unfortunately, these towels can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if they come into contact with raw meat, poultry, or seafood juices.

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection in 2019 found that kitchen towels had a high presence of bacteria, including aerobic bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae (the family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli), and Staphylococcus aureus (commonly known as staph). These bacteria can cause various illnesses, ranging from mild food poisoning to severe infections.

Key Takeaway: Kitchen towels can harbor harmful bacteria that can lead to foodborne illnesses or infections if not washed regularly.

How Often Should You Wash Kitchen Towels?

The frequency of washing your kitchen towels depends on how you use them and what they come into contact with. However, most experts recommend washing them every three to five days, or even more frequently if necessary.

If you use a kitchen towel to clean up spills or messes, especially those involving raw meat, poultry, or seafood, it’s best to wash it immediately after use. These towels should not be reused before washing, as they can easily spread bacteria to other surfaces or foods.

On the other hand, if you primarily use the towel for drying your hands after washing dishes, you may be able to wait up to five days before washing it, provided that it remains dry between uses.

Here’s a table summarizing the recommended washing frequency for kitchen towels:

UseRecommended Washing Frequency
Cleaning up spills or messes involving raw meat, poultry, or seafoodImmediately after use
Drying hands after washing dishesEvery 3-5 days
General cleaning or wiping surfacesEvery 3-5 days

Key Takeaway: Wash kitchen towels every 3-5 days or immediately after using them to clean up raw meat, poultry, or seafood spills.

Proper Washing Techniques

To effectively remove bacteria and prevent cross-contamination, it’s crucial to wash your kitchen towels properly. Here are some tips:

  1. Wash kitchen towels separately from other laundry items, or at least with similar soiled items like mop heads or cleaning rags.
  2. Use the hot water setting on your washing machine, as hot water helps kill bacteria more effectively.
  3. Allow the towels to dry completely, either by air-drying or using the dryer’s high heat setting.
  4. Consider using an oxygenated bleach or a sanitizing cycle on your washing machine if you’re concerned about germs.

Key Takeaway: Wash kitchen towels in hot water, separately from other laundry, and ensure they dry completely to effectively remove bacteria.


How often should you wash kitchen towels used for cleaning up raw meat spills?

Kitchen towels used to clean up raw meat, poultry, or seafood spills should be washed immediately after use to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

Can you wash kitchen towels with other laundry items?

It’s best to wash kitchen towels separately from regular laundry or at least with similar soiled items like mop heads or cleaning rags. This helps prevent cross-contamination and ensures that the towels get thoroughly cleaned.

Is it okay to use bleach when washing kitchen towels?

Yes, you can use an oxygenated bleach or a sanitizing cycle on your washing machine when washing kitchen towels. However, avoid using chlorine bleach, as it can degrade the fibers and cause colors to fade.

How can you tell when it’s time to replace kitchen towels?

Replace kitchen towels that have become frayed, stained, or smelly, as these may be harder to clean effectively and can harbor more bacteria.


Regularly washing your kitchen towels is essential for maintaining a clean and safe kitchen environment.

By following the recommended washing frequency and proper cleaning techniques, you can minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses and infections caused by bacteria lurking on these commonly used cloths.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.