How Often Should I Change My Towel?
Advice differs from scientist to scientist but they all have one overarching agreement, use your towel no more than 3-uses. The problem is, most us use our towels for longer than that and in this article, we’ll explain more so you can become informed about a problem that most don’t know about. You’ll be a towel expert.
America’s Washing Habits
Let’s start from the top here, how many people shower daily? In a 2021 survey by the New York Times it showed 60% of Americans showered daily. In a study by YouGov in 2014, it showed 66% of Americans showered daily with men most likely to shower daily versus women. This same study also pointed towards 8% of people showering more than once a day. In analyzing the type of demographics, 77% of those people earning $80,000 or more a year were more likely to shower daily. 74% of divorcees are likely to shower daily, as well as 71% of people in the south. At these levels 210 million people in 2014 were showering daily, while in 2021, based on the NYT report about 200 million people are showering daily. Americans in general shower 6 times per week. Essentially, any problem here affects many.
America’s Towel Habits
Based on our own survey on 100 people, the average amount of uses of a single towel is 4. According to a General Electric study, only 7% of people using a towel to dry off with, use their towel once before cleaning and swapping with a newly clean one. In a similar study, we found that over 110 million American’s (33%) use the same towel for 1 week or more. Our own research is backed up by a Business Insider study that indicates only 20% of people use their towel for the amount experts recommend, meaning 265 million people are using their towel more than 3 times. So it can be said, most of America is reusing their towel multiple times and leaving themselves vulnerable to the dangers these microbes can cause.
What The Scientists Say..
Kelly Reynolds PhD. a Professor at the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Health says “the best practice is to wash them after every use”.
Jason Tetro (The Germ Guy) says we should switch hand towels out ‘every one to two days’. Many people leave their hand towels in bathrooms longer than their bath towels, make-up towels, and kitchen towels.
Dr. Philip Tierno PhD. a Microbiologist at the New York University School of Medicine told Business Insider in 2017 that we should be using our towel ‘no more than three times’ and followed on with ‘a damp towel is growing’, pointing out that when our towels are wet, the infestation is getting worse. Dr. Tierno also mentions in this article that ‘using a bacteria-ridden towel just undoes the main purpose of washing at all’.
Dr. Charles Gerba PhD. a key voice and famed-Microbiologist who says we should ‘use the same towel no more than 2-3 days’. In a separate article, he says those with children must be specifically careful.
Dierdre Hooper MD. a Dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology washes her towel every use. She says “The most important rule is drying your towel after using it” because... “it can stop microbes flourishing”.
Do you share towels?
That is a no-go, as pointed out by microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno PhD and Carolyn Forte, Director of The Cleaning Lab at Good Housekeeping, they say that sharing a towel could result in pimples, boils, and other infections. In 2019, a study on British people showed 56% of couples shared towels. In 2018, a study on an pair of Australian people showed the difference in cleanliness between two people’s towel water. It clearly shows the disparity in cleanliness we can all have and makes it known that even if YOU are clean, the other person you share it with might not be, they might be carrying 550 million Staph microbes like in Ben’s case. This Men’s Health article talks about how 90% of towels (according to Drench) had fecal bacteria on it, so if you don’t want to share fecal matter with people, avoid sharing.
Bathrooms are perfect for bacteria growth
In a study outlined in TIME Magazine, 90% of bathroom towels that were tested displayed viable disease-causing bacteria. When our towels are wet, that is when the bacteria is duplicating and multiplying our towel, so when someone showers after you, it prolongs the dry time of the towel and essentially allows bacteria more time to grow. When our towel is dry, that is when the bacteria pauses, waiting for that next usage and wetness event. In just 24-hours, bacteria could grow up to 260,000 microbes on it, these are microbes that could cause E.coli, Fecal matter, MRSA (staph) + more, as well as containing some healthy bacteria we must point out too.
Do you use a bacteria-friendly towel?
How old are our towels? 80% use it longer than recommended. New York City-based Dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says “although there is no official rule to follow on when you should replace your towel, you’ll want to replace them once they begin to lose absorbency”, she follows on with “if your towel still has a funky smell after being washed, you’ll want to toss it out.”. This is because the absorbency decline means the towel takes longer to dry and thus giving microbes an extended time to breed. Germs love thickness but also love a wet towel.
Are Fresh Towels Always Clean?
In essence, No. A study led by Dr. Charles Gerba showed that used hand towels have 1,000 times more coliform bacteria on them than newly bought ones. As these articles point out, regular laundry will remove ‘some germs and bacteria, but not all’. This article by WebMD talks about doing laundry on a high enough heat to kill the bad stuff, they say - ‘Do your laundry in water that is at least 140°F to kill viruses and bacteria!’. The problem we’re having is that some major brands are pushing washing on cold but as pointed out here, studies show the survival of fecal bacteria in fabrics in cold water is higher. The issue with laundry is many see it as the enemy but the less detergent we use the more we can avoid shrinkage and color damage.
The 8-Point Conclusion
This is a really large issue that most of us fall into. The majority of us use towels every day and the amount of the country that wash daily is huge, really showing how important this is to solve.
The majority of us reuse the same towel every day, potentially undoing the purpose of a shower in the first place.
Our uses exceed what experts recommend. All of the experts say no more than 3 uses but that is just unrealistic, especially with busy lifestyles, rising costs of laundry, and carbon emissions that laundry causes. No one likes doing laundry so they are looking for other alternative solutions to this problem.
There are millions of bacteria on the towel that we are using. This bacteria is not nice bacteria. It is E.coli, Fecal matter, MRSA (staph), and much more.
Sharing towels is wrong but people do often do it, as well as storing their towels next to/touching their spouses or children’s towel that may be harboring bacteria. People often hang their towel on the same hook or rail as other family members or room mates. We must also mention, we often touch our towels on the floor when drying our legs or feet off post bath or shower.
- Bathrooms are great for its growth, especially when others shower after us, prolonging the dry-time meaning more microbes can grow. Our bathrooms are dark, warm, and humid making the perfect environment for microbes. Our towels are also key, they are thick, moist, and also warm which provides a great home for bacteria to live and breed in.
- Most of us are using old towels that lack absorbency and take longer to dry. This means that we’re using bacteria-friendly fabrics to dry off. These are essentially instruments for covering ourselves with harmful microbes.
- Our towels aren’t always clean even though they’ve been washed. Most of us don’t wash on a high enough heat to kill the bad stuff.
The Epiphany Towel Spray’s key benefit is how it can dry towels 150 times faster than it would dry naturally. It’s ingredients are optimized to focus on drying fabrics faster, some faster than others. Towels though need to dry quickly to limit the bacteria growth on them, especially those 3, 4, 5 use-old towels. Consider the trial of this product for the sole focus of making your towel safer while continuing to use your towel the amount you do currently.