While the benefits of a late summer mean that people are getting more of a chance to get their washing on the line, a survey suggests that one area we are missing out is in washing towels. In fact, towels are among the most bacteria-infested items in our washing.
A report by Healthline suggests that even freshly washed they contain 190,000 counts of bacteria — increasing to 17 million after just one day of use, and soaring to as high as 94 million after a week. Yet research by Showers2You suggests that over a million UK residents only wash them once a year.
While NHS guidance shows that towels should be washed after three uses, Showers2You asked 2,200 UK residents exactly how often they wash their towels and found that many were using them for much longer before giving them a freshen up.
- 3% of UK residents surveyed only wash their bathroom towels once a year, which equates to over 1.5 million people (1,595,646).
- Almost one in 10 UK residents (8%) surveyed only wash them twice a year, equating to over 4 million people (4,255,056)
- A third of UK residents (33%) surveyed wash them just once every three months, this equates to over 17 million people (17,552,107)
- Those surveyed in Leicester and Glasgow are most likely to go the longest without washing their bathroom towels, with over 4 in 10 (41%) from both cities admitting to only washing their towels every three months at the most
Through a survey of 2,200 UK residents, the research found that 3 percent of respondents wash their bathroom towels once a year, equating to 1,595,646 people based on the latest adult population estimates from the Office of National Statistics.
Men were five times more likely to clean them just once a year, with 5% of male respondents admitting to giving them an annual wash, compared to 1% of women.
Almost one in 10 respondents (8%) stated they will only wash their bathroom towels twice a year, indicating over 1.5 million people across the country give them a clean every six months, while a third of respondents (33%) will only wash their bathroom towels once every three months at the most.
However, it’s not all bad news for the nation’s bathroom hygiene, with almost one in five (38%) respondents stating they wash their towels once a month, almost a quarter (24%) washing them once a week and one in 20 (5%) health conscious residents washing them every day.
The NHS advises that towels can spread germs if not washed frequently.
Commenting on the research, Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, a dermatologist, said: “It is crucial to maintain proper hygiene in our everyday routines, including the use and care of bathroom towels. Regular washing is important to maintain cleanliness and reduce the risk of infections. Towels tend to accumulate moisture, creating an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. Bacteria like staphylococcus aureus can lead to skin infections, while fungi like Candida yeast can cause issues like athlete’s foot or yeast infections. Additionally, dirty towels may contain allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or skin irritations in sensitive individuals. Therefore, 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.”