How to keep your bath towels dry and fresh between uses – prevent musty odours with these expert tips

No more reaching for damp towels after a shower

Black bathtub with towel hanging over, black rattan chair with cushion
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

There's nothing worse than getting out of the shower or bath and reaching for your towel just to realise that it's still damp and worse – borderline musty.

Keeping our towels dry and smelling fresh between uses can often be difficult, especially because bathrooms are notoriously humid. Although you should wash towels frequently, it doesn't make sense to wash towels after every use from a practical, and energy-saving point of view.

Luckily, there are a handful of things you can do to ensure your towel stays fresh between uses and decrease your chances of eventually having to wash towels that smell from leaving them damp for too long. 

Close up of a black towel radiator on a white tiled wall in the bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

How to keep your bath towel fresh between uses

'Ultimately, the way you hang and store your towels is crucial to lasting freshness,' begins Lucy Ackroyd, towel and bedding expert at Christy. 'Don't let a wet towel dampen your shower experience. Thankfully, there are numerous solutions to ensure your towels stay fresh and dry, ready for your next bath or shower.'

1. Hang towels correctly

'You should gently wring out any excess water from the towel, then choose a well-ventilated area such as a towel rack or hook where air can circulate freely around the towel,' advises Emily and Jonathon Attwood, founders of bedding and towel brand, scooms.

They advise avoiding folding or bunching it up as this can trap moisture and lead to an unpleasant, damp smell. Keeping this moisture trapped will lead to musty odours, ultimately making washing bath towels a harder feat when laundry day comes around.

'Instead, be sure to hang it with enough space between folds to allow the air to flow. This will ensure your towel dries quickly and remains fresh and ready for your next bath or shower,' assure Emily and Jonathon.

Gold metallic towel rails with towels hanging and stored

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

2. Hang towels individually

'To speed things up, leave space between towels and other damp items when you hang them up to dry. Giving them room increases airflow between items, which speeds up the overall drying process,' says Deyan Dimitrov, laundry expert and founder of Laundryheap.

Better yet, Lucy even suggests laying towels flat to dry them. 'Avoid piling wet towels on top of each; instead, lay them flat to allow air to circulate freely. To ensure maximum freshness after your shower or bath, give your towels a flip after a few hours to ensure both sides receive adequate airflow or heart, depending on your setup.'

Freestanding wooden towel rail hanging towels in kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC/Sussie Bell)

3. Ensure adequate airflow

'To dry towels faster, be sure to hang them in front of any entrances with good airflow, or warmer spots in your home including radiators, windows, and doors,' suggests Deyan. 'Don't worry too much whether these locations have hot or cold air, both will do the trick.' 

'If you have a bathroom ventilation fan, ensure this is turned on post-shower to accelerate drying by improving air circulation,' adds Lucy.

Black bathtub with towel hanging over, black rattan chair with cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

3. Hang it in the right location

On top of correctly hanging your towels and ensuring proper ventilation, location also matters. 'Hang it on the back of a door, the door frame or better still, use a heated towel rail in your bathroom or heated airer,' suggests Nancy Emery, cleaning expert at Drench.

'Using an electric towel rail has loads of benefits, from 100% efficiency at the point of use to simple installation and zero maintenance,' assures Stephen Hankinson, energy efficiency expert at Electric Radiators Direct. 'Compared with standard radiators, electric towel rails are specifically designed for the needs of your bathroom. They offer a convenient place to hang and dry your towels whilst also providing lasting warmth and helping to keep mould and mildew at bay.'

Stained glass bathroom window, heated towel rail with dark grey chevron towel, marine fossil ornament

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Alternatively, if you need a renter-friendly bathroom fix, opting for a solution like free-standing organisational ladders will also do the job.

'As well as providing a near-instant solution for towel storage, you can air the towels after use and also, as they're free-standing, there's no risk of cracking expensive tiles by drilling to fix them to the wall,' explains Simon Glanville, managing director at A Place for Everything.

Another option for hanging your towels is suction towel rails or hooks. 'Attach them to tiles or the shower screen and they're a perfect close-at-hand towel rail when stepping out of the shower or bath,' adds Simon. 'They're extremely unobtrusive and versatile as you can move them to whatever works best.'


Why are my towels always damp?

If your towels are always damp, it's probably because of the way you're hanging them after a shower or bath.

'If a towel is not hung up to dry correctly after use or thrown into a laundry basket wet, then it's likely you will start to notice a damp, mouldy stench,' explains Nancy Emery at Drench. 'This is down to the length of time the towel is left wet; the longer it takes to dry, the more chance there is for mildew to form giving off that stale water smell.'

'To keep your towel dry and odour-free for the next time you need it, make sure it has plenty of room to air-dry. It needs to be relatively flat and not scrunched up as this limits the airflow causing it to stay wet for longer,' she advises.

White marble tiled bathroom with white bathtub and towel draping over

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Following these tips will hopefully leave you with a fresh and dry towel to reach for after your bath or shower every single time. Now, you can go ahead with your everything shower knowing that even the post-shower experience should be serving you well.

We'll be happily waving goodbye to damp and musty towels from here on out.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.