Towels… your home’s unsung heroes. Whether you realize it or not, you ask a lot of your towels. You take a shower. You dry off with your bath towel. After you drink your morning cup of joe, you rinse the mug and dry it with your kitchen towel.
As you’re scrambling to take Fido on his potty walk, he piddles in the foyer. You grab one the “dog towels” and clean up Fido’s folly. Your towels also take care of your family members. Towels are a vital part of your life and you rely on them every day especially in the busiest rooms in the house, the kitchen, and the bathrooms.
So how do you know when it’s time to throw in the towel and get new towels? Most towels should be replaced every 2-5 years. If you’ve got towels that have been hanging around since Pac-Man was released (the first time), you should probably put them out of their misery.
So let’s take a look at what impacts our “heroes” life span.
Not all towels are created equal. Crummy bargain bin towels will not hold up. Poor quality towels will shed more than Fido. Inferior towels will also lose their absorbency quickly and fray or develop tears after only a few washes.
High-quality towels made from microfiber, cotton, terry cloth, linen will hold their fluff use-after-use and wash-after-wash. It’s better to invest in higher quality products that will perform better AND last longer.
Here are some tips for identifying high-quality towels:
In summary, you want towels made from thick, high-quality fabrics. Make sure the towels are stitched well, feel substantial, and are soft.
Heroes need back up. Just like your favorite starting pitcher has a reliever waiting in the dugout, your towels need the support of a backup set of towels or two. If you rotate towel sets, you can increase the life of your towels. When you have backup sets, you are more likely to wash your towels more frequently.
It’s easy to toss the towels in the wash knowing you have a fresh set available. Most people do not wash their towels after every 3-4 uses. Frequent washing is crucial in minimizing the bacteria that live on your towels.
Towels are one of bacteria’s favorite hosts. Washing towels frequently is crucial in getting rid of those icky germs. But frequent washing also shortens the life of your towels.
Kitchen towels should be washed after each use. Your bathroom towels should be washed after 3-4 uses. If you wait longer to wash your towels, odds are some nasty infection-causing bacteria has taken up residency.
Repeated washing cycles are another great reason to have relief towels on hand. Your towels last longer because they are getting rotated and aren’t being used and washed as frequently as a single set of towels.
Extending Your Hero's Life
You’ve invested in high-quality towels. How do you maximize their lifespan? There are some simple things you can do to dramatically extend your towels’ useful life.
- Don’t mix towel loads with other clothes – Towels are monogamous. If you wash towels with other types of laundry that may have zippers, buttons, or snaps, the fabric of your towels could become damaged. So, keep the towels to themselves.
- Don’t hang wet or damp towels on hooks – Hanging towels on hooks does not allow the towel to fully dry between uses. This also increases the chance of bacteria growing. Hang towels on towel bars or other locations that allow the towel to spread out and dry completely.
- Don’t use fabric softener – Ugh! Everyone loves a super soft towel. Adding softener to your towels can lead to a filmy residue and reduced absorbency. So skip the softener (that includes dryer sheets).
- Don’t delay wash cycles – Waiting too long to wash your towels will result in dirt and bacteria growing. Dirt build up can damage the towel’s fibers. Plus, who wants to jump out of the shower and dry off with a dirty towel.
- Allow towels to dry completely – Using a towel before it has completely dried from its last use, will increase the growth of bacteria and potentially weaken the fibers.
- Wash once, rinse twice – Set your machine for a double rinse cycle. A second rinse goes a long way to eliminating the bacteria growing on your towel.
- Promptly remove from the washing machine – Once the machine stops, immediately transfer the towels to the dryer. It does not take long for the bacteria you just banned to rear its ugly head. Letting wet towels sit in the washing machine can also damage some fabrics.
When it is time to retire your towels, consider repurposing them. Turn them into dog towels to handle Fido’s next folly. Move them to the utility closet to become cleaning towels. If you want them out of the house, consider donating to your local animal shelter. They are always looking for donations.