PDA

View Full Version : Towel washing & usage



mira
2-23-11, 2:56pm
The thread on towel-folding reminded me of something I've been wondering.

My boyfriend refuses to use bath towels more than once, whereas I'll use mine until it starts to smell a little damp. He insists that using a bath towel for that long is unhygienic. I say that if you've cleaned yourself well in the shower, all you're mopping up off your body is water, so the towels are hardly going to be grime-laden.

He also thinks that we should have two dish towels hanging up in the kitchen at any one time - one for drying dishes and one for drying hands.

These are both things that have been passed on from his family and I think both are unnecessary. Does this make me FILTHY??

What are your towel-hygiene practices? I know this seems so trivial, but I can't even begin to count the number of little arguments it's caused...

IshbelRobertson
2-23-11, 3:18pm
Towels are changed ever two days in bathrooms
Kitchen tea-towels are changed every day - I make such a mess of them when I cook that I couldn't possibly use them more than one day!

Sounds like your partner was brought up with the same sort of 'rules' (!) as in my family!

loosechickens
2-23-11, 3:20pm
Well in the using two towels in the kitchen, one for dishes and one for drying hands, I'd probably agree....although it's MOST hygenic to just let the dishes dry for a bit in the drainer, unmolested by even a clean cloth.

We are of the school that since we are clean when we step out of the bath, and are simply mopping off clean water, we hang out towels to dry and wash them once a week when we do laundry. We spend much of our time in the southwest, so they dry quickly, so it's fine, although I noticed in 2009 when we were back east and spent time in Miami where the humidity was really high, we used about two per week each.

But.....I understand that some share your sweetie's preoccupation with the "naughty bits", as my sweetie's sister thought it was hilarious to buy us a Xmas gift of a half brown/half white towel, with one end saying "face" and the other end saying "butt".....

Since our butts are as clean as the driven snow when the towels are used, seemed a tad anal (forgive the pun) to me, but........

sometimes these "how we've always done it" just have to be solved in a "live and let live" manner, but in this particular instance, I'm on your side..... for what THAT'S worth..... ;-)

Miss Cellane
2-23-11, 3:29pm
I change the hand towel in the bathroom every two or three or four days, depending on when I remember to do it. (I live alone.) I use two bath towels, one for face and hair and one for the rest of me, and wash them weekly.

In the kitchen, dishes air dry. The kitchen towel is mostly for hand drying and gets changed every other day. If I need to dry dishes, I'll go and get a clean one.

I have space to store 10 or 12 kitchen towels. But I do not have space to store the 14 bath towels I'd need for a week's worth of showers if I changed them daily, nor would I want to do a couple of loads of laundry every week that were completely towels.

Mrs-M
2-23-11, 3:30pm
Hi Mira. For years and years now I've had a "thing" for reusing bath towels. (I'm so not in favour of such). Odour, unsanitary, etc. I just watched Dr. Oz and he covered a segment on skin conditions and hygiene and medically speaking, reusing bath towels is not a good thing (ever). Even using the argument- "oh, but my skin is clean because I just got out of the shower" doesn't wash (pardon the pun) with Dr. Oz. There's bacteria (tons of it) left behind on a bath towel after use (clean skin or otherwise), and once the bath towel has had a chance to stew in it's new collection of skin flakes and bacteria, it becomes a science labs nightmare. A breeding ground of bacteria, mildew, fungus, and other unwelcome microbes.

mira
2-23-11, 4:26pm
For those of you who change towels frequently - how on earth do you keep up with the laundry? :) The last thing I want to do when I come home from work or at the weekend is do yet more work in the form of frequent housework. We don't own a dryer, so much of the time our house is strewn with drying laundry anyway. I don't really want to add to it! Maybe my preferences have become such out of laziness.

Mrs-M
2-23-11, 4:49pm
Mira. Keeping up with laundry (at the best of times) is difficult (for anyone), need alone introducing new measures (on top of the basics) related to cleanliness and hygiene.

I would never attempt to coerce anyone into believing that they "need" to start a new campaign in their homes as to washing/laundering rituals, because adding extra work and chores and things to ones already busy workweek schedule definitely does nothing to improve upon lifestyle betterment or gain, but I do believe the bacteria issue is a viable argument which if anything at all, helps to open up understanding on both sides of the age old debate of whether to wash after each use or reuse.

P.S. I've worn out a washing machine through every day laundering. Not fun. :) I say stick with what works best for you. Laziness? Nah... I never look upon anyone who likes to reuse bath towels as being lazy, instead, I view them as being thrifty, environmentally conscious, and frugal in the sense of steering away from unnecessary laundry (if that's what works for them), thus saving energy, time, and money. It's all good! :)

jennipurrr
2-23-11, 5:00pm
I go through 2 bath towels a week. I couldn't really imagine changing them every day, but apparently some people do! I dry my hands with the kitchen towel and let the dishes air dry on a rack.

bae
2-23-11, 5:03pm
We change ours when they begin to speak in tongues :-)

As we are on a septic system, and water is precious here, minimizing laundry is a good thing.

KayLR
2-23-11, 5:07pm
I'll go way out on a limb here and confess I don't even shower EVERY day in the fall/winter.I have a desk job...don't go to a gym...so why dry my skin out because of a perceived notion I'm filthy and need a shower. So, I don't use a towel every day. I may even use the same twice in one week, but I don't keep that close of track. I have never self-infected with any bacterial disease in my memory. I'm one of the healthiest people I know.

Washcloths, I do not reuse. They get rack-dried and thrown in the laundry daily. Dish towels are just used for hand drying. If DH cruds them up, they go in the laundry immediately.

sweetana3
2-23-11, 5:14pm
Dr. Oz is pure showman and promotes a very American lifestyle. There are billions of people who either dont have clean water or dont have hot water and manage to survive just fine.

I will always remember he said to not pick your nose cause you could get a brain infection. No way am I going to tell a child that. Give me a break. Dont watch him any more.

Miss Cellane
2-23-11, 5:23pm
I have no doubt that the bacteria, etc. that Dr. Oz says are on the towels are actually on the towels. But my question is, is it making you sick? There's bacteria and viruses on every single surface you touch, all day long. Most of us have immune systems that can handle every thing we throw at them, all the time. While I don't think a bath towel should go for months being used every day and not washed, I've washed my towels weekly for decades, and so did my mother. If I get sick, it is not from my towels. And even after seven days of use, I doubt the towel is germier than the grab bar on the subway, or the shopping cart handle or the door handle on an office door.

When the CDC declares one-use bath towels a must to protect my health, then I'll go out and buy more.

I grew up in a family of nine people. All us kids had color coded bath towels, so that we would use the same one all week. Mom did 3 to 4 loads of laundry a day, every day except Sunday*. I cannot imagine how much more laundry she would have had to do if we had all used just one clean towel a day.

*My parents were of the belief that if any of us kids used an appliance, we would break it. This belief had no basis in fact, and exceptions were made for the vacuum cleaner and lawn mower.

Float On
2-23-11, 5:55pm
I certainly believe a towel can be used 3 times and no matter how many times I say it.....it doesn't sink in to the 13 and 14 year olds living in the house one of whom is obsessed with being clean lately and takes 2-3 showers a day.

Kitchen towels - I probably have 4 out at a time and those all get put in the laundry daily......I confess.....I'm a messy cook.

IshbelRobertson
2-23-11, 6:14pm
Mira
I know our climate isn't conducive to lots of wet washing - but I manage by changing the towels every two days, but only washing when I have a full load's worth - ie about once a week!

Gina
2-23-11, 6:16pm
I use a bath towel several times. I can't imagine using the water, gas and electricity to wash and dry all those once-used towels. I am athletic and an avid gardener and sometimes will take more than one shower in a day.

I also remember as a very young child when my folks didn't have much, mom would fill the tub with a few inches of water and more than one person used it for a bath - not at the same time, but in sequence. :D

I think we have gotten way to 'clean' these days, probably to the detriment of our own immune systems. I'm also sure there are bacteria on once-used towels. But what sort of bacteria? Not necessarily really bad ones. I rarely get sick so who cares? I'm not going to catch a disease I don't already have from my own towel. There are millions and millions and millions of them on every surface we touch. I'd be much more worried about what was on someones phone or keyboard, or a shopping cart at the store than bacteria on a towel used to dry my own body. I would however not want to use a towel someone else has used. My bacteria are OK, their's aren't. ;)

treehugger
2-23-11, 6:23pm
I have no doubt that the bacteria, etc. that Dr. Oz says are on the towels are actually on the towels. But my question is, is it making you sick? There's bacteria and viruses on every single surface you touch, all day long. Most of us have immune systems that can handle every thing we throw at them, all the time.

Yeah, that. I won't be bullied by Dr. Oz into being afraid of my bath towels. And I truly shudder to think of the wasted resources (water, electricity, soap) of all those needless, extra loads of laundry.

Greg44
2-23-11, 6:42pm
We change out our bath towels weekly. And we have very nice skin I might add -- Dr. Oz.! My wife uses two big bath towels, hand towel & wash cloth.

One day I got in the shower and saw I forgot to put out a fresh towel for myself. I just dried off with my wash cloth and never looked back since. No more big bulky bath towl to try and dry out for the next day, etc. It is the minimalist coming out in me (drives my wife crazy). And by the time I open the shower door I am dry and not cold!

Probably my way of protesting the 25 sets of towels (and growing) we have for 3 people left in the house!

janharker
2-23-11, 8:55pm
I'd maybe buy the argument about the bath towels harboring bacteria if it wasn't for the fact that so much bacteria dies very quickly in the presence of oxygen combined with the lack of host skin.

I wash our bath towels once a week. I also am on a septic tank and I can't see stressing the system or wasting the utilities. Kitchen towels get replaced about twice a week and accumulated and washed once a week.

If you're forced to wash the boyfriend's towels more often than you want, maybe you might consider getting smaller towels to at least save stress on the utilities/equipment.

loosechickens
2-23-11, 9:29pm
How much does anyone want to bet me that a huge perponderance of the advertisers on Dr. Oz, just HAPPEN to be soaps, detergents, chemical sprays, antibacterial products, etc.?

I believe we have a completely exaggerated fear of bacteria, germs, etc., in this country, (and perhaps in Canada as well), which causes more problems than it solves. There are a few areas in which sanitation IS important, mainly the sh*t to hand to mouth connection, but other than that, a healthy immune system is an immune system that has encountered enough germs to stay strong and active.

We really have a problem of being exposed to too FEW germs anymore, rather than too many. And our overuse of antibiotics, antibacterial soaps and sprays, etc., is contributing to the small percentage of germs that are harmful to us becoming antibiotic resistant and more dangerous.

We are TEEMING with bacteria, even if we shower ten times a day, air dry and keep a house so spotless that everyone in it is miserable. Our insides are colonies of billions upon billions of bacteria.....actually pounds of our body weight is nothing but the weight of the bacteria inside us and clinging to us.

The hygenically processed food we eat has ****roach feces in it, insect parts, dirt, etc. that we ingest without even knowing it.

And, the huge majority of all this stuff does us no harm at all.....but all our efforts to banish them actually CAUSE a lot of problems, but anyone who feels more comfortable washing mountains of extra laundry is certainly welcome to do it......IMHO.

We reuse the towels to save water, electricity, soap, etc., and also because we are lazy. It works for us.......

edited to say: my gosh, the stupid computer program allowed me to say "anal" in a post, but wouldn't allow ****roach without the little "stars to protect us from bad language".....reminds me of the computer censoring programs that won't allow information on breast cancer to be viewed.....bah, humbug......

Sad Eyed Lady
2-23-11, 10:34pm
I reuse my bath towel a few times before tossing it into the wash. Actually, I hardly dry off with the towel at all. I wrap it around me as I come from the shower, (I use a smaller one for my hair), and by the time I have gotten out the hair dryer, put moisturizer on my face etc. my body is pretty well dry. The towel is hardly damp when I hang it back on the towel rod. As for dish towels, I have one out at a time which is mainly for hand drying - my dishes all air dry in the dish drainer.

Kestrel
2-23-11, 11:00pm
Use the wrung-out washcloth and "dry" yourself off with it, wringing it out as you go. You can rub on body oil/lotion of whatever kind you prefer then; or not. You'll still have a dampness when you get out, but you'll dry very quickly (in dry southern Idaho, anyway). We wash our towels whenever we think about it.

Miss Cellane
2-23-11, 11:55pm
If you're forced to wash the boyfriend's towels more often than you want, maybe you might consider getting smaller towels to at least save stress on the utilities/equipment.

No, if you are forced to wash the boyfriend's towels, then it's time for the boyfriend to wash them himself.

madgeylou
2-24-11, 7:43am
my fella likes to take a lot of baths (2 per day on average) and uses a clean towel every time. as an every-other-day bather with no problem using a towel for a week, i find his usage to be a bit on the insane side.

however. he is a grown man and a wonderful person, and he does most of the laundry, so i zip my lip!

CatsNK
2-24-11, 9:58am
I have lived to 41 blissfully unaware that it is common to wash bath towels daily. To me, that is incredibly wasteful. All that Tide going into the water supply? Sorry, I don't get it. I suppose that's the American lifestyle. Funny to find it so prevalent here on this board.

Apparently I've spent too much time backpacking around the third world and camping out in the woods to get too worked up about bacteria on my bath towel. In my 20s I spent two months walking/camping across the Arizona/Nevada desert - I might have washed my towel 3 or 4 times during that time. Managed to survive, somehow.

As for our household, we air dry dishes in the rack. We have two kitchen hand towels that get washed once a week. Our hand towel in the bathroom, about once/week. Our bath towels - randomly. I guess when I put my nose in mine and it smells I know it's time. I don't use a washcloth - I use a scrubbie. I change that every three months or so, generally when it starts falling apart.

Somehow, we stay VERY healthy. In the past 2 years we've had one cold between us and no other sicknesses. That's as far as I can remember back - but I'd say that's about our average.

janharker
2-24-11, 10:48pm
I've never heard of anyone getting sick/diseased/dead from an unwashed bath towel.

Tiam
2-24-11, 11:57pm
I've never heard of Dr. Oz. But really, I don't get it. Get back to basics. I don't know if it matters much. We have skin flakes, bacteria and what not, on our beds, furniture, carpets, curtains, clothes, in our car upholstery, our shoes, brushes, combs, ad finitum....but I should panic about my towels? Basically I change them out every other day or so. I'm really bad I guess since I only wash scrubbies and wash rags weekly. I do air dry them and occassionally give them a brief bath in some bleach water.

Gina
2-25-11, 1:51am
I feel I must confess to the group... I just took a bath http://www.simplelivingforum.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=145&d=1294381426 ,

decided the previous towel already had too much 'experience', and used a totally fresh one.

I feel so... clean. :moon:

iris lily
2-25-11, 1:54am
I change bath towels when it occurs to me and that's not often. I mostly dry off by wrapping myself in my terrycloth robe (freebie from one of DH's house clean out jobs) and that thing seldom gets washed. It is just not an issue for me.

But due to living with dogs who make messes I do a certain amount of towel laundtry each week. At the moment we have clean tidy dogs and the laundry requirements are minimal, probably 1 load every 2 weeks. I the past it has been 2x per week, ack.

mira
2-25-11, 6:44am
No, if you are forced to wash the boyfriend's towels, then it's time for the boyfriend to wash them himself.
HAHA! This is exactly what I tell him. If you want a fresh towel every time you shower, hey, you know where the washer is!

I have to admit, neither of us shower every day (despite his towel-hygiene preoccupation!) so we'd never really have to wash bath towels daily, but just more frequently than I find necessary. If I had a viral skin infection or something, yes, I'd change towels after each shower. Otherwise... nah. We only have four bath towels, so whenever they've all been used over the course of however many months, I'll wash them all.


I think we have gotten way to 'clean' these days, probably to the detriment of our own immune systems. I'm also sure there are bacteria on once-used towels. But what sort of bacteria? Not necessarily really bad ones. I rarely get sick so who cares? I'm not going to catch a disease I don't already have from my own towel. There are millions and millions and millions of them on every surface we touch. I'd be much more worried about what was on someones phone or keyboard, or a shopping cart at the store than bacteria on a towel used to dry my own body. I would however not want to use a towel someone else has used. My bacteria are OK, their's aren't.

Definitely in agreement. I wash my hands whenever I come in from outside, having touched the railings on the bus/train, a keyboard or money (money must be filthy!) at work or a door handle of a public toilet (which I especially try to avoid, yuck)... my bath and kitchen towels are practically STERILE compared to all that!


One day I got in the shower and saw I forgot to put out a fresh towel for myself. I just dried off with my wash cloth and never looked back since. No more big bulky bath towl to try and dry out for the next day, etc. It is the minimalist coming out in me (drives my wife crazy). And by the time I open the shower door I am dry and not cold!
I love this :D

We also air-dry our dishes on a rack, as a number of people have mentioned. Sometimes not all of them fit on the rack or are still slightly wet when removed, so we need to dry them off. Having one special towel especially for this purpose does not make sense to me. It's not as if I use my kitchen towels to mop up spillages or clean counters - just to dry off washed hands and dishes.

We are also both very healthy and rarely get ill with bacterial infections or even viral ones. Must be all that dirt and onion grass we ate as kids.

Blackdog Lin
2-26-11, 9:55pm
MY bacteria is GOOD bacteria, for me. DHs bacteria is also good for me, it stimulates my immune system. The household dog and chicken and gardening and general being-outside bacteria is also good for me, it also strengthens my immune system.

And basically, reusing towels and washcloths (to the point of 2-a-week in our bathrooms, 3-a-week in the kitchen), as long as I keep them non-damp-or-moldy), saves resources, saves money, and I firmly believe keeps us healthier in a less-clean kinda lazy kinda way.....Viva la Lazy.....

razz
2-26-11, 10:15pm
Bath towels get washed every week unless the humidity is so high that the towels get 'high'. Hand towels in bathrooms get changed every other day; kitchen towels include one for drying hands and one for dishes and get changed every other day. Cloth for cleaning counters, stovetop etc., gets replaced daily.

redfox
2-27-11, 3:49am
I change out our bath towels around every 7-10 days. Of course, we each shower only 2 times a week, maybe 3 if it's been a hard week, and I have a terrycloth bathrobe I use. So I guess that's after 3 or 4 uses. Kitchen towels are changed out daily or more often if I'm making a mess.

Wildflower
2-27-11, 4:39am
We shower daily except during seriously cold weather. We change the towels out once to twice a week. Kitchen towels are changed out as needed throughout the week. Different towels are used in the kitchen for drying hands and kitchen clean-up. hand towels are normally changed out once a week. Now if anyone in the house has a cold, virus, or any type of illness then all towels are changed daily, but that usually only occurs about once a year. All towels are washed once a week. All of our laundry is done on the same day once a week.

chrisgermany
2-27-11, 6:06am
All towels and washcloths in our house get changed once per week. They get completely dry during the day. If they show visible dirt or one of us is sick, we change more often. I never noticed a smelling issue.

Zzz
2-27-11, 10:54am
Another who washes towels when she gets around to it. My preference is one towel per week. Sometimes I use a second one. I have enough towels to go for months without washing them, but I don't. ;)

The dog uses more towels than I do...

There is NO way I'm wasting that much water and soap. Both are environmentally damaging and both are expensive here. I seriously doubt any of my health conditions are from my towels...

early morning
2-27-11, 1:58pm
Bath towels are changed once a week, tops. Kitchen towels may be changed more often, depending on what and when I cook. Dish rag is changed daily, because it gets nasty fast. We do use different towels in the kitchen for hands and for dishes (which usually air-dry in the dishwasher, anyway). Wash cloths are single use. We are way too germ-phobic! The more we shelter ourselves, the more susceptible we become. Dr. Oz is cute, but I'm not impressed with much of his advice, and neither is our family doctor.

Miss Cellane
2-27-11, 6:00pm
The thing that bothers me so much about the studies such as the one that Dr. Oz showcased is that they give you one small fact in isolation. You now know the amount of germs on your towels after they have been used a certain number of times over a certain number of days.

What you don't know is if those germs will make you sick. There's an assumption that the presence of germs equals massive, serious illness, but is that really the case? There needs to be another study that compares illness rates between people who use a clean towel every single time, people who use towels three times and people who use towels 8 times before washing.

You also don't know the germ counts on other surfaces in that same bathroom--what are the counts on the sink, toilet seat, toilet handle, faucets, liquid soap dispenser and shower curtain a) after cleaning, b) 12 hours after cleaning, c) 7 days after cleaning? And do those germs make the average person sick? Yet another study. And what about the sheets on your bed? There are the same skin flakes and moisture issues there. So we need a study of germs on sheets washed daily, weekly and monthly. And a study of whether or not those germs make people sick.

We're so trained to react to the presence of germs with complete avoidance. Yet germs are everywhere. I had a co-worker who literally could not borrow a stapler or pair of scissors without wiping them down with a disinfectant wipe before using them. She'd apologize to you as she did so, but nothing could get her to use something that her brain saw as "germy." She washed down her desk daily. She didn't use handrails on stairways because they might have germs. She couldn't hold on to a grab bar in the subway unless she was wearing gloves--and the gloves had to be washable so that she could clean them later. She'd rather risk a fall than hold onto a bar or railing.

Truthfully, I feel that one of the biggest luxuries Americans have (can't speak for any other countries) is the luxury to be clean and healthy. The luxury to reject food if you only *think* it might be being to be a little spoiled. The luxury to put on clean clothes every day after taking a shower to clean yourself, every day. The luxury to be able to have readily available hot and cold running water to mop the kitchen floor and wash the clothes and cook the food. Drinking water coming out of a tap in more than one room in the house, instead of having to carry it in buckets, or having the local water supply cut off for hours every day. The luxury of a refrigerator to keep your food fresh. Heck, the luxury of a freezer so you can have ice cream any time you want it, just by going to the store and bringing it home. And the luxury of time to be able to worry about these issues and the luxury of time and money and energy to be able to do something about them if that's what you want to do.

IshbelRobertson
2-27-11, 7:22pm
As someone who has stated they change towels every couple of days - I offer in my defence that I HATE the feeling of towels which have dried me more than a couple of times. It has little to do with the cleanliness of the towels, just my distaste for the slightly grubby feeling of those towels. I am not going to apologise for that!

Tammy
2-27-11, 11:15pm
... If you're forced to wash the boyfriend's towels more often than you want, ...

I would say that he can do his own laundry, and you don't have to think about it all!

(edit - i should read the whole thread before talking! ha ha)

loosechickens
2-27-11, 11:49pm
Miss Cellane +1

Maybe it's because we've lived in Second and Third World countries, often in relatively primitive situations, that we have a more relaxed attitude than many American consumers about the "germ" situation. You learn quickly what levels of hygiene really ARE important, and which are more of a product of the marketing of consumer products and the luxury of living in situations where you can indulge your wishes to be as "germ free" as possible.

And, it's quite true that only a very tiny fraction of the bacteria, etc., we encounter has any kind of negative effect on our health and wellbeing, and in fact, the majority are very helpful and have evolved with us in an almost symbiotic relationship, and are useful. Not to mention the good effects of keeping our immune systems well exercised, etc.

Many people who have a real "ick" factor about things like bath towels or public restrooms, quite happily use their cell phones and computer keyboards, when studies have shown that those are two surfaces that are often the most contaminated with disease causing bacteria, in our environment.

But......people have to do what they have to do. It's probably good to at least learn which hygiene practices really DO make a difference in disease prevention, and which are not so important.

pony mom
3-2-11, 11:20pm
<<I will always remember he said to not pick your nose cause you could get a brain infection>>

How far up your nose do you have to pick to do that???