Here’s how often you should wash your dish towels.

Advertisement for loading: Your dish towels are breeding bacteria long before you do a “sniff” test and discover that they smell a bit funky. They’re the germs you wipe all over your counters, on your dishes, and on your hands. It turns out that a quick rinse and a hang over the tap will not keep your towels in top condition. It would be best if you washed them more frequently than you do.

Why you should wash dish towels every day

Darenton Randall is a Tide scientist who says that dish towels should be washed daily. Think about it: You toss your paper towels every time you use them, right? “It’s only natural that you would wash your dish towels daily.”

There are many reasons to throw a towel into the laundry basket. Randall says that while germs may cause unpleasant smells, invisible soils (also known as “invisible stains”) can also produce them. Many people do not wash their dish towels thoroughly after washing them because they believe that the towels were hand-washed during the process. When towels are not properly cleaned, invisible stains and odors can develop.

According to lifestyle expert Cheryl Nelson, there is science behind this concern. She says that researchers at the American Society of Microbiology recently presented the results of a research that collected 100 kitchen towels after a month of use. The results showed that almost half of the kitchen towels had bacterial growth, including Salmonella. E. coli, Listeria, and Staphylococcus Aureus.

Towel Fabrics: Best Choices

Nelson says that different fabrics for dish towels have pros and cons. Nelson says that some materials are better absorbers than others, while some cannot be washed with hot water. Others are best for drying glasses and dishes. I like dish towels that are made of tightly woven cotton. This type of towel is absorbent and soft. It can be washed multiple times without losing its durability or strength. Cotton towels are soft and spongy and can be washed many times without losing their durability or strength.

Nelson offers another eco-tip: “When you wash cloth towels, include them in your regular loads of laundry so that you don’t waste water on only a few towels.”

Alternatives to cloth

You might want to consider using a reusable towel made from plant material that is biodegradable or compostable. Nimbus offers Nimby Expanding Towels and Multi-Surface Towels.

Mark Samuels, co-founder of the company, says, “They are naturally antimicrobial and will not produce odors or grow mold bacteria.” They’re also machine washable and FSC-certified.

How long should you keep cloth towels?

Randall advises that if you find your towels have persistent odors or a loss of absorbency after washing, it is probably time to replace them. If you’re looking to reuse your old dishtowels, don’t be afraid of getting creative. You can use old dish towels to make pet toys or to package fragile items.

Nelson says, “Any outdoor work is a great way to use old towels.” We keep a stash of old towels for use as yard or mechanic towels.

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