Health, Lifestyle, Popular Stuff

How often do you wash your towels?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
September 27th, 2017

When I first moved out of home I was SO excited to do all the domestic stuff. Weird for a lazy little gal whose mum practically did everything for her except for wipe her bum. We’re talking washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning – she even used to make my bed for me. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I left home at ten years old, but no, I was a fully grown 24-year-old woman when I moved into my own abode and as it happens, I got bored with all the house shit REAL quick.

Growing up in a home with a mum who is a super duper clean freak, she would wash our towels every day. “How stupid,” I thought to myself at the time, “I’m never gonna waste my time doing that!” So, as a big girl in my own castle, the towels get washed once a week. Turns out, mum was on to something with the everyday towel washing routine. There is something super gross lurking in those week-old towels that I had zero idea about…and it’s disgusting to the power of ten.



In a currently unpublished study he’s been working on, microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Dr Charles Gerba, has found that almost 90% of bathroom towels contain coliform bacteria. “What’s that?” I hear you ask. Simply put, it’s disease causing bacteria. Worse still, some towels held traces of Salmonella and around 14% carried E.Coli aka POO germs. Ewwww…someone hasn’t been washing their hands and/or bum properly!

To put all this stomach-turning news into layman’s terms for us, Dr Gerba told Time, “After about two days, if you dry your face on a hand towel, you’re probably getting more E.coli on your face that if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it.” So basically, you’d be getting more shit on your face by drying it on that towel than in the place your shit actually goes. Cue vom.

If you’re snorting in disagreement with these findings, the reason behind it is pretty simple. Those fluffy white towels we use to dry our bods and hands on allow for the perfect condition to trap your skin’s unseen natural bacteria into its depths. Add to this the fact that those towels remain damp for quite a while and you’ve got germapalooza  going on in there.

There is some good news though. According to clinical microbiologist Susan Whittier, it’s super unlikely that using a towel crawling with your own bacteria will make you sick, as our bodies have adapted to our microbe-filled environments. But what about if you’re touching someone else’s towel? Susan says, “As long as it’s drying completely between use, there’s almost no chance of passing bacteria from one person to another.” Phew.

I’m not sure about you though, but this info is enough for me to up my towel-washing game to at least every second day – and make sure I NEVER touch a damp towel again for the rest of my life. That shit is nasty.

 Have a listen to our live podcast below and subscribe to our pod here for HEAPS more.