This Is What Happens If You Never Wash Your Towel

Bathing and then drying off are indispensable practices when it comes to keeping clean, but while many of us put great effort into keeping ourselves clean, some of us may neglect extending the same courtesy to the tools that help us do it.

Many people may not realize that towels need regular cleaning even if they are only ever used to dry off freshly cleaned bodies, but the truth is that our bodies are never fully free of bacteria. When we dry off, our towels get covered in whatever bacteria and viruses were still on our bodies. Dead skin cells also get onto the towel, and for as long as the towel stays damp, this provides a perfect environment for microbes to multiply, microbiologist Scott Meschke tells Self.

Soon enough, that clean towel isn't so clean anymore. In fact, microbiologist Charles Gerba tells mindbodygreen that in an experiment that he conducted, fecal bacteria were discovered on 80% of towels that went unwashed for more than two days. Part of this could be from the germs that spray into the air whenever a toilet is flushed (perĀ American Journal of Infection Control).

This is how often you should wash your towels

Leaving your towels unwashed puts you at risk of skin conditions, says the Cleveland Clinic, which advises washing your towel at least weekly. The Cleaning Institute goes a bit further and recommends washing towels after 3 to 5 uses. Microbiologist Charles Gerba (via mindbodygreen) suggests erring on the more frequent side of that recommendation, at least if you don't want to dry off with a towel covered in fecal bacteria.

Dr. Amy Kassouf tells Self that people with eczema or other skin conditions should consider washing their towels more often, since they could develop an infection if the germs enter openings in their skin.

People who are sick should wash their towels after every use to kill off any germs, according to Cleveland Clinic. You'll also want to wash your towel after a single use if it has bodily fluids on it or if it doesn't dry fully between uses.