Hey, we get it, doing chores is annoying. But, according to a survey conducted by GE, there are a few things in your home that you should be washing way, way, more often than you’re currently doing. And that, my friends, includes your bath towels.
A few weeks ago, GE polled 1,509 people ages 18 and over around the nation who happily admitted to the dirty little secret that they rarely wash their towels. According to the poll’s results, “50% of those polled live by the philosophy that ‘I’m clean when I use it’ because they all admit to using their bath towel at least five times before throwing it in the washer,” GE said in a release. “An additional 14% use their bath towels more than eight times before it hits the laundry basket.”
And though you may think washing your towels this little may be no big deal, in truth, it can lead to a few nasty germs and different bacteria infesting your bathroom.
As TIME reported in 2017, towels are the perfect breeding ground for germs as they are damp, warm and often thrown on the floor of a very humid environment. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, even told TIME that in one of his studies he found that nearly 90% of bathroom towels were contaminated with coliform bacteria and nearly 14% carried the bacteria E. coli.
“After about two days, if you dry your face on a hand towel, you’re probably getting more E. coli on your face than if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it,” Gerba added.
So how often should we all be washing our towels to avoid contracting a nasty bug? According to Gerba, bathroom towels should be washed after two days of use. But, make sure to also be washing them in hot water to kill off all the germs.
But, as Susan Whittier, director of clinical microbiology at New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center added, you can likely stretch it to a week “As long as it’s drying completely between use.” Her rule of thumb: If it stinks, wash it. And that’s a rule we can truly get behind.