Posted by Bridget Reed

How Often Should You Replace Towels?

5 min read

Your bath towels see a lot; depending on how many you have on rotation, they are used quite frequently. Most bath towels have an average lifespan of around two years, but the amount they’re used and how often they’re washed plays a major role in how long they will last. 

We understand that towel care isn’t always common knowledge, so we’re here to lend a helping hand and ensure your towels last you as long as possible. It can be costly to replace your towels every few months; let's learn when to replace them and how to care for your new ones. 

If you feel your bath towels have seen their better days, here are some signs it’s time to donate or repurpose your old towels and invest in new ones. 

Five Signs That Your Bath Towels Are Too Old 

You can follow the two-year rule, but sometimes towels can last significantly longer or significantly shorter. Throwing away a towel that still has life in it can be wasteful, but using a towel that won’t absorb right or is crawling with germs is just as bad. 

Knowing how often to replace your towels can be tricky, but here are surefire signs it's time for some new ones. 

They Feel Scratchy

We’ve all stepped out of the warm shower only to be met by a cold, scratchy towel — it’s no fun and can put a damper on your morning. If your towels have a dry, itchy feeling, they’re likely too old. While there are ways to make your blankets soft again, it’s not as easy with towels.

A morning shower is a relaxing and enjoyable ritual, don’t let a scratchy towel ruin that. 

They Lack Absorption 

Once you realize your towels aren’t doing their job well enough (getting you dry), it’s probably time to replace them. When the fabric of towels is repeatedly washed, dried, and used, it losses the soft, fluffy texture that works so well as locking-in moisture.

They’re Starting To Fray 

If your towel material is beginning to fray, chances are, they already lack absorptions (and may have an unpleasant odor). Once fraying occurs, it’s probably time to ‘throw in the towel’ and start searching for better drying options. 

They’re Older Than Two Years 

While this isn’t a set-in-stone rule, chances are, no matter how frequently they’re used/washed, your towels are ready to be replaced after two years. 

Considering even some of the highest-quality bath towels are only around $30-$40 a piece, that’s a pretty solid investment! 

They Have a Slight Odor 

Unless you strictly use Miracle Made Antibacterial Towels, your towels will likely develop an odor after a few months. 

Towels usually smell nice straight out of the dryer, but once they become wet, that mildew smell reappears. There’s no need to be embarrassed over this stench, as it happens to almost all towels. As long as you throw them out at the first whiff of mildew, there’s no harm done. 

How To Make Your Towels Last Longer 

If your towels aren’t lasting as long as they should (around two years), then their care or quality is to blame.

Here are a few tips and tricks on caring for your towels to ensure longevity:

Don’t Use Too Much Detergent 

Detergent makes your towels smell clean and fresh, but beware of your pour because too much can result in dry, scratchy towels.

Too much detergent can affect the rinsing process, leaving excess suds on the material, which can cause mold growth.

Wash Towels in Hot Water

Usually, washing material in hot water is frowned upon, but it’s the opposite for (certain) towels. Hot water can help eliminate bacteria and kill germs. Your towels are likely much dirtier than you realize, so hot water wash every once and a while is a great idea. 

However, always refer to the towel tag prior to washing. All fabrics require different needs, and some cannot be washed in a hot washer at all. 

Don’t Wash Your Towels Too Often

Your towels should be washed a minimum of once a week, but washing them too often can cause wear and tear. Bacteria clings to materials like cloth, especially when damp, which results in towels crawling with unwanted germs. 

Drying off your freshly washed body with a not-so-fresh towel doesn’t feel great, and unless you plan to replace your towels every month or so, you can’t wash your towels after every use. Instead, opt for a self-cleaning towel to ensure a clean-slate no matter where you’re at in your laundry schedule.

Give Your Towels a Shake 

Whether your towels are okay in the dryer or need to be air-dried, give them a shake or two, regardless. Shaking your towels before drying promotes the elasticity and fluffiness of the material. 

Hang Your Damp Towels 

Throwing your damp towels in a basket (or on the ground) is a bad habit many are guilty of. Before you leave your used towels out to grow bacteria, consider hanging them to dry, even if you plan to wash them in the next couple of days. 

Wash Your Towels Alone 

If you’re not the best at separating white and colors, chances are you wash your towels with the rest of your clothes. While slightly more efficient, not separating your towels from the rest of your wash may be the culprit behind their lack-lusher quality. 

Cut Away the Frays 

If your towel has more frays than intact fabric, it may be time to retire it; but one or two are no biggie. Take scissors and cut away any straggler stitches you can find; this will help keep your towel intact for longer.

Use Less Fabric Softener

The scent fabric softener leaves on your clothes, sheets, and towels is unbeatable, but using it with every wash may not be the best idea. Like how too much detergent can affect your towels, so can fabric softener. Using fabric softener every time you wash your towels may result in solution build-up, which can affect absorption. 

What About the Sheets?

We’ve talked all about towels, but your bedsheets are equally important. You spend a significant amount of time on your sheets, so having pristine ones is crucial (and may affect your quality of sleep)

If your sheets are overly frays, stained, wrinkled, or have an odor no matter how much you wash them, it’s likely time to get replacements. However, the general rule of thumb is at least every two to three years. 

Fresh Towels Galore 

Every towel has its better days, and if a few of yours are ready to retire, it’s okay. Unless you’re buying a gold-infused bath set, anything you need to restock on should be pretty reasonably priced. 

And while bidding your favorite towels farewell can feel like pouring money down the drain, when you do decide it’s time for a shopping spree, it’s best to look for high-quality, reliable towels. While it will initially cost you a few extra dollars, it’ll be worth it in the long run (especially) after your next spa-like shower


Washing towels: How often should you clean them? | CNN

Your Towels Are Way Dirtier Than You Think | Time

Smarter: You're Probably Using Way Too Much Detergent | Consumer Reports

How Your Bedding Can Affect Your Sleep | Forbes Health

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