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Experts weigh in on how often bath towels should be washed

Drying off with a bath towel is the last step in taking a shower, or washing your hands or face.

While towels don’t necessarily get thrown into the laundry every day – how dirty can they really be? After all, you’re clean when you use them, right?

Inside Edition conducted an investigation to find out the answer to this. What they discovered is not only eye-opening, it’s pretty gross too.

Everyone has a different routine when it comes to their laundry. But for a lot of people though, bath towels are hung back up for multiple uses.

One woman that was part of the experiment learned just what was “growing” on her towel after not washing it for a week.

Marisa Hunter is a model living in New York. Like many others, she dries her face and hands with the same towel she uses following a shower.

Interestingly, there’s an estimation that two-thirds of U.S. residents shower on a daily basis, according to Verywell Health.

Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero visited Hunter and took samples from her towel using sterilized bacti-swabs.

The swabs were then shipped off to Micrim Labs in Florida for testing. In two weeks they had their results.

The icky truth was revealed.

Hunter had hoped that they wouldn’t discover anything gross about the towel she used, but that wasn’t the case. Guerrero explained:

“We tested your towel for over a week, and during that time we found one fungus and five different bacteria, including E. coli.”

Although Hunter was shocked over the results – they actually got worse.

On the first day, the bacteria count on her towel was 260,000. After a full week, the bacteria count was astronomically higher at 650 million.

The next participant in the experiment was a mom named Lara Alcontara, along with her two girls Maia and Marcella.

Their bath towels made it into the laundry approximately once a week as well.

While the towels were being swabbed, Alcontara didn’t seem too worried. She told Guerrero:

“Go for it. I’m confident of the cleanliness of my towels.”

The family’s swabs were sent to the lab to be tested, and soon they learned the disgusting truth like Hunter.

Eight kinds of bacteria were discovered, including staph aureus and E. coli (which are capable of causing infections).

The bacteria count on Alcontara’s personal towel was at a whopping 490 million.

Shanna Marie Wallace, an office manager, was the last person to be part of the experiment. However, she laundered her towels every couple of weeks.

Just like the other participants, Wallace was stunned and grossed out by the results.

Guerrero shared that one fungus was found, along with four bacteria (including one that could cause health issues like pneumonia and urinary tract infections).

So, how often should you really be washing your bath towels?

University of Arizona microbiologist and professor, Dr. Charles Gerba, spoke with Inside Edition about the germy truth, revealing:

“Towels are one of the germiest things you can use.”

When asked what it would compare to if you dried off with a dirty towel, he explained:

“Well you are actually getting more bacteria, fecal bacteria in your face than if you took your head and flushed it in the toilet.”

It’s recommended that your towels get washed in hot water every three days, instead of waiting so long. Yet, that’s not the only tip for reducing bacteria and germs.

Watch the video below to see the full investigation and to learn what else you should and shouldn’t do with your bath towels!

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