Cleaning experts reveal the worst thing you can do when washing your towels – and we've all been guilty of it

This common misconception is ruining your towels

A basin unit in a bathroom with tiled walls, a square basin and mirror
(Image credit: Future PLC/Alexander James)

There's a long-standing misconception that 'the hotter the temperature, the cleaner your laundry' that has caused confusion regarding the best temperature to wash towels – and it's likely that we've all been guilty of believing this myth at some point. However, experts warn that washing your towels at too high of a temperature is ruining them and ultimately leads to higher energy costs overall.

Knowing how to wash bath towels properly is essential not only to their cleanliness but their longevity, too. If you're taking the time to invest in the best bath towels, whether it be for your personal use or in anticipation of hosting guests, it pays to ensure you're clued up on the best practices to keep them clean and soft for longer.

So, what temperature should you be washing towels at that doesn't compromise cleanliness not quality?

White bath towel hanging on edge of black bathtub in panelled bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

The best temperature to wash towels

Our curiosity surrounding the best temperature to wash towels was sparked following an Instagram video posted by BBC Woman's Hour discussing how often you should wash your towels.

In the video, Professor Sally Bloomfield from the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene stated that ideally, towels should be washed weekly at 60°C (or 40°C minimum) with a bleach-based powder product to maintain cleanliness.

While some commenters agreed with the sentiment, some commenters expressed that washing anything at 60°C feels like too much, especially given the higher cost of running a washing machine at hotter temperature settings.

'Towels are best washed in temperatures of around 30 to 40°C,' explains Nancy Emery, cleaning expert at Drench. As a general rule of thumb, towels need to be washed in medium-hot water settings to ensure a thorough clean of bacteria, as well as tough stains and discolouration.

If you're really paranoid about the cleanliness of your towels but don't fancy cranking the heat up to 60°C, Lucy Ackroyd, head of design at luxury towel and bedding brand, Christy assures that 40°C is still hot enough to kill dirt and brighten whites, whilst also being an eco-friendlier alternative for those conscious on saving energy at home.

Grey utility room with shaker doors, washing machine and white walls.

(Image credit: Future/Darren Chung)

However, proceed with caution as the experts at cleaning product brand, Ecover, warn that using water that is too hot can ultimately decrease the quality of your towels and lead to higher energy costs overall.

In fact, they say that the best temperature to wash towels at will come down to several factors – including the laundry products you opt for and whether or not you're trying to remove stains or simply wash towels that smell.

For example, 'Stains such as blood and sweat actually respond better to cold water washes, which help remove these stains without 'setting' the stain into the fabric,' explains an Ecover spokesperson. 

A basin unit in a bathroom with tiled walls, a square basin and mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Alexander James)

That being said, Lucy urges us that the first priority above all should be to check the laundry care label on your towel for any instructions or icons relating to the temperatures and products that can be used on it. Especially if you want to keep your towels fluffy.

Subsequently, she recommends washing towels separately to reduce the chance of pulls and pills, as well as discolourations and colour runs.

Blue painted utility room with fitted washer and dryer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Kasia Fiszer)

Finally, when washing towels, Deyan Dimitrov, cleaning expert and founder of Laundryheap stresses the importance of not overloading the machine to ensure each item is rinsed properly. 'For the average-sized washing machine, a load of seven bath towels is about the maximum.'

Here's to keeping our towels clean, soft, and fluffy for longer.

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.