How Bad Is It To Reuse Your Towel?

If you typically use the same bath towel for a few days at a time, you're not alone. But at what point should you be tossing your towel through the wash? On one hand, you may be exposing your body to bacteria that thrive in damp, warm conditions, but using the washing machine for a towel load every day isn't environmentally friendly. So, what's the right balance?

Good news: Unless your towel is actually dirty (for instance, if you get blood on it after cutting yourself in the shower while shaving), it's fine to reuse it for up to three days before washing it (via Just make sure that it has a place to hang dry quickly after your shower: Don't leave it in a damp pile on the floor. The longer it stays damp, the easier it is for bacteria to populate.

If your towel smells, that's a warning to wash it sooner rather than later, so if you catch a musty whiff before you start to dry off, err on the side of caution and toss it into the laundry bin (via Healthline).

Why does it matter how clean your towel is?

When you step out of the shower feeling squeaky clean, the last thing you want to do is rub a combination of dead skin cells and bacteria back on your skin, but that's exactly what you're doing when you use a dirty towel. Towels can become breeding grounds for mold, yeast, and even bacteria like e. coli if not kept clean and dry. If you have a sick family member, those towels should be washed daily: Don't wait for three days between laundry cycles (via Towel Super Center).

To wash your towels, use hot or warm water and your regular detergent, and whether you run them through the dryer or opt to air dry, just make sure that they're entirely dry before you fold them up and put them away.

For hand towels that are getting more use, wash those every day or two, depending on how highly trafficked your bathroom is. And when it comes to washcloths, wash after every use: They're going to capture plenty of dead skin cells, dirt, and other grime, and they'll stay warm and wet for bacteria to grow much longer than a towel will (via Healthline).