The one thing you look forward to after a long bath is a warm, fluffy towel. Essentially, towels are a day-to-day necessity for soaking up moisture from your body. Moreover, towels are used for a multitude of purposes, like hand drying or drying off after bathing.
But what you might not realise is that moist towels can also be dirty towels, which are potential breeding grounds for germs and microorganisms. Let’s dive more into this topic!
How Dirty Is Your Towel?
TIME magazine’s studies show that 90% of dirty towels may contain coliform bacteria, and some may even harbour E coli. Exposure to such harmful microorganisms may cause you to become seriously unwell by contracting diarrhoea, vomiting, or stomach upset.
Can Towels Make You Sick?
Bathrooms tend to be warm and damp, and that’s all that’s needed for the bacteria on towels to flourish and infect you. Dirty towels are home to several microbes, as your natural skin bacteria and germs get transferred onto them. Hand, face, and bath towels are at the highest risk of causing skin infections.
If you don’t wash your towels regularly, they may harbour a multitude of bacteria. The risk of intestinal infections caused by organisms like Staphylococcus also increases.
A solution for this could be opting for an antimicrobial bath towel to avoid harmful microorganisms that may affect you. These towels are designed to resist bacteria and odours so that you can enjoy a longer-lasting freshness after every use.
You may think using a damp or old towel is okay once in a while when you’re feeling a bit lazy. But as you can see for yourself, the dangers of dirty towels are second to none.
Dangers of Dirty Towels:
It’s super important to be aware of the potential dangers of using dirty towels. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to keep those towels clean and fresh!
- Bacterial Growth: Towels are susceptible to bacterial growth as they tend to remain most damp and warm, which is the ideal breeding ground for microbes.
- Fungal Infections: An unwashed towel is more likely to harbour fungi like the candida species, which may cause oral thrushes, yeast, or urinary tract infections. It can even live up to a month on an unclean towel!
- Exacerbated Skin Problems: Body and facial acne, eczema, rashes, etc., are all skin problems that dirty towels can cause due to the transfer of bacteria and skin irritants.
- Respiratory Issues: Mold and mildew can grow on a damp towel, which can aggravate allergies and breathing issues like asthma.
- Cross-contamination: Improperly washed towels, if shared, can put you at risk of infections. Transmission of pathogens is also a likely occurrence. For example, you may develop warts if you accidentally use a towel previously used by an individual with an ongoing HPV infection.
- Body Odour: Good personal hygiene is necessary, and using dirty towels can even cause foul body odour.
Best Practices for Towel Care:
Listed are some ways you can clean and maintain your dirty towels to avoid infections and maintain good hygiene.
- Regular Washing: Wash after 3-4 usages with hot water and a sterilising detergent. Preferably wash your towels separately to ensure an in-depth cleansing.
- Proper Drying: To ensure proper towel care, make sure your towels are fully dried in a well-ventilated area or a dryer before use. This will prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
- Have Separate Towels: Always utilise separate towels for your body, face, hair, and hands to avoid infections.
- Avoid Sharing Towels: Try to avoid sharing towels with your pets or even your spouse. Cross-contamination can spread microscopic germs or parasites. Keep this in mind, especially for your pets, as animals may have mites or fleas.
- Towel Replacement: Replace your towels from time to time. Towels that look frayed or have a strange odour should be discarded. These towels are much more likely to be retaining harmful microbes even after washing.
Just as consistent exercise routines and proper nutrition are a part of your health regimen, your seemingly commonplace towels play just as crucial a role. The risks posed by dirty towels are difficult to ignore. Incorporating proper towel care into your schedules has a substantial positive impact on your health and hygiene.
Whether it’s correct cleaning procedures, switching to antimicrobial towels, or proper drying, these small steps promote a healthier and happier lifestyle for you and your loved ones.
Author Bio: Rory Donnelly, clinical research director of Copper Clothing, examines copper’s potential for wound dressings after a randomised study showed they created a significant reduction in postpartum surgical site infection following a caesarean section.