How often to wash towels - experts have the final say on how often you should be doing it

Experts share the best practice on how often towels should be washed to keep them in 5-star condition

Cloakroom with blue painted panelled walls, a blue tiled floor and a blue painted radiator outside in the same shade
(Image credit: Dorma)

How often should you wash towels? If you haven't had this debate in your household we're honestly shocked. Whether it's a bath towel or a petite hand towel how often to wash them is a surprisingly divisive subject, so we asked the experts to weigh in with their final word on the matter.

Knowing how to wash bath towels properly is all good and well, but if you're not doing it frequently enough they can become rough, musty and a bacteria-packed playground. We promise we're not trying to scare you, but neglecting to wash your bath towel is a fast track to ruining any spa-style bathroom ideas.

So according to the experts, this is how often you should be washing your towels.

folded towels on stall in bathroom

(Image credit: Marks & Spencer)

How often to wash towels

'It’s alarming to hear how little some people wash their towels', explains cleaning expert and Product Development Scientist at Astonish, Olivia Young.

'If left unwashed, our towels can begin to harbour bacteria, resulting in unpleasant odours as well as potential skin issues if we regularly neglect to clean them.' 

With constant and sometimes shared use, even the most high-quality thread-counts need regular care to ensure cleanliness is maintained and fabric quality upheld. 

folded towels in bathroom

(Image credit: B&M Stores)

How often should I wash bath towels?

Experts recommend as a general rule that as long as you haven't shared the sheets with other household members, towels should be washed every three or four uses.

'Typically, bath towels should be washed every three to four uses, they come into direct contact with your skin and can harbour bacteria and dead skin cells, so regular washing is important for hygiene,' confirms Victoria Bennion.

However, in some circumstances, experts suggest washing towels more frequently.

'In certain instances, it is recommended to wash towels after every use, such as when used at the gym, to absorb sweat or when dealing with sensitive skin', says Lucy Ackroyd, Head of Design at Christy.

Latte and white towels

(Image credit: The Fine Cotton Company)

Lifestyle choices contribute to how often towels should be washed. For example, someone who works at home in a pet-free, smoke-free environment will not need to wash their towels as often as someone who commutes on public transport to work in a busy gym and then goes home to a house with pets and family members who smoke.

'Frequency of washing any items will depend heavily on the lifestyle habits of the person,' explains Victoria Bennion, Head of Category (MDA) at Curry's.

George Home bathroom

(Image credit: George Home)

How often should you wash hand towels?

Hand towels in bathrooms and cloakrooms take on much more use than body towels as they are used by various household members and guests throughout the day. 

Frequent and mixed-use requires hand towels to be changed and washed more regularly than larger bathroom towels.

'Given their frequent use and exposure to moisture, hand towels can quickly accumulate bacteria and germs, especially in homes with multiple household members', says Baqir Khan, cleaning expert and owner of Proactive Cleaners.

'Hand towels, frequently used in bathrooms or kitchens, should ideally be washed every two to three days.'

Additionally, it's wise to refresh hand towels after an event that's drawn more visitors to your house, such as a dinner party or family gathering. 

Cloakroom with blue painted panelled walls, a blue tiled floor and a blue painted radiator outside in the same shade

(Image credit: Future Plc/Matt Clayton)

How do you keep towels fresh for longer?

Contrary to popular belief towels do not require fabric softener when washing. Adding fabric softener to the wash can leave a soap residue that sticks to fibres, making the fabric rough, stiff and less absorbent. 

To ensure towels are kept soft, fresh and fluffy for longer you need to learn how to wash towels with vinegar. This is simple to do and only involves adding a cup of natural white vinegar to the wash cycle, into the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine. Do this every few washes. 

'White vinegar is a store cupboard cleaning essential that is truly a wonder product! It is a natural anti-bacterial cleaning hack as well', says Laura Harnett, founder of Seep Eco Tools.

'If you add a cup [of white vinegar] to your regular towel wash then it’ll boost the cleaning power of your natural detergent, remove any lingering odours and kill any bacteria or mould spores.'

White vinegar bottle with a measuring jug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Phil Barker)

How should you store towels after washing them to stay fresh?

Towel storage ideas are really important to ensure they stay soft and fresh until they are needed. 

'Folding your towels is a great way to save space and ensure they stay in good shape. For the best use of shelf space, fold your bath and hand towels in thirds,' says Jessica Hanley, founder of Piglet in Bed

'Start by holding the short end of the towel at chest height, and then fold each edge across to meet the opposite side fold for neatly overlapping thirds. 

Fold up the bottom third of the towel, then fold the top third down, and store with the outer folded edge of the towel facing out to make it easy to grab a single towel off the shelf and keep your closet looking great.'

blue utility cupboard with storage baskets

(Image credit: Matalan)


Is it okay to wash towels once a week?

As mentioned, lifestyle choices affect how often to wash towels, however, general advice is that towels should be washed every three uses. 

Commenting on a survey compiled by, Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, a board-certified Dermatologist says, 'It is recommended to wash towels after every three to four uses to eliminate bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells, and allergens, ensuring optimal hygiene and minimising health risks.'

How often should I replace my bath towels?

'Towels should be replaced every two years', advises Nic Shacklock from However, you can push it to five years, but after this, you really should look into repurposing your towels for something else.

If you take good care of them and follow our best practice guide on how often to wash towels, quality stamped by experts, your towel bales should last this long.

Let's put this towel debate to bed once and for all.


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.