RD.COMHomeCleaningMaryn LilesUpdated: Feb. 24, 2022
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Knowing how to wash towels properly is the gift that keeps on giving. After all, nothing beats the feeling of wrapping yourself up in a soft, luxurious towel when you get out of the shower. Not only does proper towel-washing help keep them clean and stink-free, but it will also extend the life of your towels, keeping them in tip-top shape instead of letting them become raggedy, limp, and scratchy with age.
While you might already know a lot about how to do laundry, figuring out how to wash towels is a whole different ball game. After all, it’s all too easy to end up with smelly towels—and a larger but invisible problem like bacteria buildup. Read on for everything you need to know about keeping your towels clean and fluffy for the long haul, from how often you should wash them to what you should be washing them with. Once you’re up to speed, find out how to wash a down comforter, bed sheets, and pillows for equally amazing results.
You should wash your towels every two to three days, according to both Philip Tierno, PhD, clinical professor of pathology and microbiology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Chuck Gerba, PhD, a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona. Hold out longer than that and bacteria will start to build up on your towel, leaving it dirty and possibly even smelly.
However, if you’re acne-prone, you might want to wash your towel every time you use it, says Tierno, rather than waiting a day or two between washes. As you rub your skin—especially open pustules—with a dirty towel, bacteria from your used towel could get on your skin and give you zits.
One caveat: If you have a heated towel rack that speeds up dry time, you might get away with washing it after four uses—but that’s “pushing it,” says Tierno.
Beyond leaving your towels smelling so fresh and clean, experts say washing them regularly is important for a number of reasons.
Of course, you want the best laundry detergent for the job. Once you have that, follow these steps for how to wash towels the right way:
If you’re washing microfiber towels, the process is slightly different. Make sure to follow those special rules so they retain their cleaning magic.
If your freshly laundered towels smell musty, vinegar may be your new best friend. Simply add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This will help deodorize your towels and remove any detergent buildup that could be affecting their absorbency.
Knowing how to wash towels will only get you so far. These tips will take your laundry game up another notch and ensure that you don’t make an all-too-common mistake.
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