Your complete guide to washing towels

Complete guide on washing towels

What to expect from this guide

Believe it or not, the frequency at which you wash your towels can have a significant impact on your health.

This guide delves into the microbiology behind towel cleanliness and offers recommendations for how often you should wash your towels to keep both you and your family healthy.

The Invisible World on Your Towel

Towels come in direct contact with our skin, absorbing not only water but also body oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Over time, this creates an environment ripe for microbial growth. According to scientific studies, bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and even traces of Salmonella can be found on used towels.

Additionally, bathrooms tend to be a humid environment, further enhancing the rate at which bacteria can multiply.

If you think that’s unsettling, consider that fungi, including the types responsible for athlete’s foot and ringworm, can also take up residence on your towels.

Factors Affecting Towel Cleanliness

Several variables can affect how quickly your towels become a breeding ground for bacteria:


Different fabrics offer different breeding grounds for bacteria.

Cotton towels, for example, are more absorbent but can also retain moisture longer, making them a hospitable environment for bacteria.

Microfiber towels, on the other hand, dry faster but may not absorb as much moisture, reducing the chances for bacteria to thrive.

Frequency of Use

The more often a towel is used, the more contaminated it becomes.

A towel used after gym workouts is likely to accumulate more bacteria than a hand towel in a guest bathroom.


How and where you store your towels can also impact bacterial growth.

Hanging a wet towel on a hook allows for less air circulation, meaning it will stay damp longer, while spreading it over a towel bar can facilitate quicker drying.

How to wash tea-towels and kitchen towels

How often should you wash your towels?

Given the many variables that can affect bacterial growth, a one-size-fits-all answer is challenging. However, here are some general guidelines:

Bath towels

You should wash your bath towels after three uses, if allowed to dry completely between uses.

Hand towels

If you’re using your hand towels frequently, make sure you give them a wash every two days, given their frequent use and the variety of germs they encounter.

Workout towels

We don’t recommend reusing unwashed workout towels. These should be washed after every use, due to the increased likelihood of bacterial contamination from sweat.

Kitchen tea-towels

Kitchen tea-towels should be washed daily since they come in contact with food particles and a variety of microbes.

Best way to wash towels

Tips for Effectively Washing your towels

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and stain remover that can brighten whites and help remove stubborn stains. Here’s how to use it effectively:

Use hot water if you can

Using hot water can help kill more bacteria. However, check the care label on your towels to make sure they can withstand high temperatures.

Separate from your other laundry

Don’t mix towels with other clothing items, especially underwear and socks, which can cross-contaminate.

Use the Right Detergent

Opt for a high-quality detergent with antibacterial properties for an extra layer of protection. We recommend using sonett’s laundry liquid, and sensitive laundry liquid.

Select a double rinse cycle

A second rinse cycle can ensure that all detergent and bacterial residue is removed from the fabric.

Dry Completely, preferably in direct sunlight

Make sure towels are fully dried before folding and storing them. If possible, dry them in direct sunlight, which has natural disinfecting properties.

Washing tips for different towel materials

The type of material your towel is made of not only impacts its softness and absorbency but also plays a role in how quickly it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes.

Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of towel materials and their specific needs when it comes to washing:


  • Characteristics: Highly absorbent, soft, and durable.
  • Best for: Bath towels and hand towels.
  • Washing Tips: Cotton towels can generally withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for hot water cycles which are effective in killing bacteria. However, excessive hot washing can cause fading. Use a mild, bleach-free detergent to maintain color integrity.
  • Bonus tip: Pre-soak stained cotton towels. For cotton towels with tough stains, consider a pre-soak in warm water with a tablespoon of salt or stain remover.


  • Characteristics: Quick-drying, less absorbent than cotton.
  • Best for: Sports towels, cleaning towels.
  • Washing Tips: Microfiber is more sensitive to heat and can lose its effectiveness if washed improperly. Use warm water and avoid fabric softeners, as they can leave a residue that compromises absorbency.
  • Bonus tip: Use White Vinegar when washing Microfiber Towels. A small amount of white vinegar can help remove detergent buildup, restoring the towel’s absorbency.


  • Characteristics: Soft, anti-bacterial, and eco-friendly.
  • Best for: Luxury bath towels, sensitive skin.
  • Washing Tips: While bamboo has natural anti-bacterial properties, it’s still important to wash these towels regularly. Use cold to warm water and a mild detergent. Avoid bleach and fabric softeners to maintain the material’s softness.
  • Bonus tip: Gentle Cycle for Bamboo and Linen. These materials benefit from a gentler wash cycle to maintain their texture and integrity.


  • Characteristics: Lightweight, less absorbent, quick-drying.
  • Best for: Guest towels, decorative towels.
  • Washing Tips: Linen towels can wrinkle easily but stand up well to regular washing. Use mild detergent and cold to warm water. Avoid high temperatures when drying as it can make the fabric brittle.
  • Bonus tip: Gentle Cycle for Bamboo and Linen. These materials benefit from a gentler wash cycle to maintain their texture and integrity.

Turkish Cotton

  • Characteristics: Extremely soft, luxurious feel, less absorbent than regular cotton but quicker to dry.
  • Best for: Spa-like bathroom experience, decorative purposes.
  • Washing Tips: Turkish cotton is delicate and best maintained with a cold or warm wash. Avoid bleach and high-temperature drying to preserve the fabric’s luxurious qualities.


By understanding the factors that contribute to bacterial growth and following the recommended washing guidelines, you can maintain a cleaner, healthier home.

So the next time you reach for that towel, think about the invisible world that might be living on its surface and remember that a simple wash can make all the difference.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this blog post is meant for general informational purposes only. Always refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for your specific items.