Is it Dangerous to Rarely Wash Your Bath Towel?

Is it Dangerous to Rarely Wash Your Bath Towel?© Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Do bath towels really ever get dirty? Most towels are made of 100 percent cotton. While it’s true that after a shower you have eliminated most of the germs and dirt from your skin, the process of rubbing a towel against the body rubs off dead skin that sticks to the moist towel. Towels become an ideal nesting place for the mildew endemic to humid bathrooms.

Most people flip a fan on or open the windows when showering but then turn off the fan or close the windows when they dry themselves. Jean Lang, director of marketing at Fieldcrest, says it is much more important to promote circulation after the shower.

Without dispersing the moisture, the bathroom becomes like a terrarium. The same type of mildew that afflicts plastic shower curtains attacks towels, especially if the towels have never dried completely from their last use.

We remember our windowless high school locker room with little nostalgia. The lack of ventilation and circulation led to mildew and smelly towels. We would have gladly endured the smell of garbage for the odious aroma of schoolmates’ moist towels.

How often do you wash your bath towels?

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

13 thoughts on “Is it Dangerous to Rarely Wash Your Bath Towel?

  1. I wash my personal body towels (the ones that are always only used by me) about 4 times a year. Most of your dead skin cells are gone after a good shower, so very little are picked by the towel. In order to prevent mildew and bacteria, the towel must dry quickly after each use. Do not hang your towels to dry in the bathroom, it’s the most humid place in your home…. Hang them immediately after use, in a dry place, and hang them cleanly and evenly (no more than one fold) so that there can be no “moist spot”.

    1. I forgot to add: Using the method described above, my towels never have a foul smell, even after weeks of using them without washing them… sure, they don’t have that artificial smell of a freshly washed towel, but they are clean nonetheless. You might think a freshly washed towel smells clean, but what you smell is not cleanliness, it’s the fragrances added to the detergent you used to wash them…After a few uses, that fragrance is gone, that’s why you think it’s dirty. You’ve been fooled by marketing scams invented by detergent makers, so that you use their product more often in order to get that “clean” smell. The truth is: clean has no smell.

  2. The worst thing is washing clothes and hanging it up to dry in the shower. If you hang it up to drain the water out of it, that’s ok, but then take it out of the bathroom and hang it outside to dry in the fresh air. Staph bacteria will grow on your washed items and smell horrible.

    1. Really? I hang my clothes up to dry in the bathroom at least once a week for the past 10 years or so. They smell like laundry detergent when dry and never have I had a staph infection.

  3. Articles like this crack me up. How many people have been negatively affected by dirty bath towels?

    1. What can you possibly say about clean bath towels? doh.

    2. Ever had a yeast infection, or eczema? Or a sore that didn’t heal as fast as it should have? Hmmmm….

  4. So – if I live in a desert, and the towel doesn’t smell after a month or 2, is it going to kill me if I don’t wash it more than four times a year? I doubt it, though this article fails to answer the question. I wash them if they start to look dirty or smell a bit, otherwise I fail to see a reason.

    1. I mean, just think of all the dead skin on that towel and all of the bacteria feeding on that dead skin. Seriously, I wash mine in hot water twice a week and I live in the desert too. Just because the air is dry outside doesn’t mean your towel isn’t wet. Gross, gross, gross….wash your towels!!!

  5. There are debates for and against cleaning your own
    carpet. If you have someone that isn’t responsible about it, you’ll end up with
    your padding and floors damaged, and your carpet will still not be clean. Try
    getting your cash back from a corporation like that. Naturally, if you hire a
    credible professional, your carpet will be undamaged and look as new when
    they’re done. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy