How Often Should You Wash Your Shower Towel?

Shower towels play an essential role in keeping us clean and dry after every bath or shower.

How Often Should You Wash Your Shower Towel

However, have you ever stopped to think about how often you should be washing these towels?

It’s a question that many people overlook, yet it’s crucial for maintaining proper hygiene and preventing the spread of bacteria and germs.

Why Washing Towels is Important

Despite their clean appearance, towels can harbor millions of germs, bacteria, and even fungi over time. When you use your towel to dry off after a shower or bath, you inadvertently transfer these microorganisms from your skin onto the towel. Additionally, bathrooms are warm and humid environments that provide an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can further contribute to the growth of harmful microbes on your towels.

Failing to wash your towels regularly can lead to several health risks, including:

  • Skin infections: Towels can harbor bacteria that can cause skin infections, such as acne, boils, and folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles).
  • Fungal infections: Damp towels create an environment where fungi, such as those that cause athlete’s foot or ringworm, can thrive.
  • Spreading illnesses: If someone in your household is sick, using their towel can lead to the transmission of viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens responsible for the illness.

By washing your towels regularly, you can help prevent these health issues and ensure that your towels remain clean and hygienic.

How Often Should You Wash Your Towels?

According to home hygiene experts, the general rule is to wash your bath towels after three uses or once a week, whichever comes first. This recommendation applies to all types of towels, including bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Gym towels: If you use a towel at the gym to wipe away sweat, it’s essential to wash it after every use. Sweat can make towels more heavily contaminated with bacteria and harder to decontaminate in the wash.
  • Face towels: Dermatologists recommend using separate face towels and washing them after every use, especially if you’re prone to acne or other skin conditions.
  • Illness or injury: If someone in your household is sick or has an open wound, it’s best to use a fresh towel for each use until the illness or injury has healed.

Key Takeaway: Wash your bath towels after every three uses or once a week to maintain proper hygiene and prevent the build-up of microbes.

Factors Affecting Towel Washing Frequency

While the three-use rule is a general guideline, several factors can influence how often you should wash your towels:

  • Number of household members: If you live alone, you may be able to stretch the time between washes a bit longer than if you live with others, as there is less risk of cross-contamination.
  • Climate and humidity: In humid climates, towels may take longer to dry completely between uses, increasing the risk of mold and mildew growth. In such cases, washing towels more frequently may be necessary.
  • Usage frequency: If you use your towels multiple times a day, you may need to wash them more often than someone who uses them once a day.

Proper Towel Care and Washing

To ensure that your towels remain soft, absorbent, and long-lasting, it’s essential to follow proper care and washing techniques:

  • Washing temperature: Wash towels in hot water (at least 60°C or 140°F) using a biological detergent. Hot water helps kill germs and bacteria, while biological detergents contain enzymes that break down protein and fat-based stains.
  • Avoid fabric softeners: Fabric softeners can leave a film on towels, reducing their absorbency over time. It’s best to skip them altogether or use them sparingly.
  • Drying technique: Tumble-drying is the best way to keep your towels fluffy and soft. Make sure to give your towels a good shake before putting them in the dryer to help separate the fibers and reduce drying time.
  • Proper storage: Store clean towels in a dry, well-ventilated area, such as a linen closet or airing cupboard. Avoid storing damp towels in the bathroom, as this can lead to mold and mildew growth.

Tips for Extending Towel Life

To get the most out of your towels and extend their lifespan, follow these tips:

  • Choose high-quality towels: Look for towels with a high percentage of cotton or a high GSM (grams per square meter) rating, which indicates a thicker, more absorbent fabric.
  • Hang towels properly: After use, hang towels on a towel rail or bar to allow for maximum air circulation and drying.
  • Rotate towels: Use multiple towels and rotate them regularly to prevent excessive wear and tear on any one towel.
  • Avoid bleach: While chlorine bleach can help remove stains, it can also break down the fibers in your towels over time, reducing their absorbency and softness.
  • Shake before drying: Before putting your towels in the dryer, give them a good shake to aerate the fibers and promote better absorption.


How often should I wash my hand towels?

Hand towels should be washed at least once a week or every 2-3 days in households with frequent visitors, pets, or children.

Can I wash all types of towels together?

Yes, you can wash bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths together in the same load, as long as they are made of similar materials and can be washed at the same temperature.

Should I use a separate towel for my face?

While it’s not essential, dermatologists recommend using a separate face towel, especially if you are prone to acne or other skin conditions. Face towels should be washed after every use.

Can I use fabric softener on my towels?

It’s best to avoid fabric softeners, as they can leave a residue on towels that reduces their absorbency over time. If you prefer to use them, do so sparingly.

How can I prevent my towels from developing a musty smell?

Ensure that your towels are completely dry before storing them. Hang them on a towel rail or bar to promote air circulation and prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause musty odors.


Washing your shower towels regularly is essential for maintaining good hygiene and preventing the spread of germs and bacteria.

By following the general rule of washing your bath towels every three uses or once a week, and sticking to proper care and washing techniques, you can keep your towels fresh, soft, and absorbent for a long time.

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.