The Hidden Health Hazards Of Sharing A Towel With Someone Else

It might seem like a contradiction; but, despite being used to dry off your freshly-cleaned body after a bath or shower, your towel is actually capable of spreading germs. Towels, especially damp ones that have been left hanging up for too long, can be havens for a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and molds (via Cleveland Clinic). Left unchecked, they can also cause a host of unpleasant conditions, such as athlete's foot, toenail fungus, and even warts.

And it's not just bathroom towels that can be affected. A 2014 study published in Food Protection Trends showed that coliform bacteria was found on almost 90% of hand towels and 25% were found to contain E. coli. In addition, a 2020 study published in the African Journal of Infectious Diseases collected 50 towels for analysis and found that all of them contained E. coli bacteria and 96% contained Staphylococcus aureus bacteria as well.

Your towels can pass germs to your partner

In 2019, Drench polled the British public and found that 56% percent of couples said they shared towels. Unfortunately for those couples, this could be a problem, given the high germ content present on most bathroom towels. In addition to sharing bacteria, using someone else's towel can expose you to dead skin and hair follicles from your partner, which can transfer mites from them to you. Additionally, putting aside the number of bacteria present on a given towel, you also don't know what your partner's drying routine may have been after a bath or shower. You don't know what body parts they dried last, which is something you might want to consider as you think about what to dry first.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you're automatically going to get sick just from using your partner's towel. However, if you have dry skin or a cut somewhere on your body, the pathogens that exist on your towel can find their way into your body, leading to illness or infection.

Keeping your towels clean and dry can help

According to Healthline, it's advisable to not attempt to dry off with damp towels, letting them dry fully between uses. You should also wash them regularly, at least after using a given towel three times. Of course, there are certain circumstances where a towel should go in the wash after only a single use. This includes towels used at the gym, towels that hang in a bathroom that tends to be damper, and any towel that has gotten any bodily fluids on it.

You should also take into consideration what type of towel you use. For example, plush towels can take longer to dry, while microfiber towels dry fairly quickly, making them ideal for people looking to dry off at the gym. You should also, if possible, hang your towels out on a towel bar, as opposed to a hook, which will allow for more thorough drying. Keeping your towels dry and washing them regularly will help keep the germs away and make sure you stay clean even after you towel down.