Kill Bacteria On Towels - clean white towels

How To Kill Bacteria On Towels

Towels are often contaminated with bacteria and germs and cause troubles to your skin and overall health. You can get rid of the unwanted microorganisms in an easy and safe way.

How to kill bacteria on your towels?

Let it dry it in direct sunlight as the sun rays sterilize it. 

Another way how to kill bacteria on towels is sterilizing them with hot temperature and UV light in a hot towel warmer cabinet. It is a very useful help in the fight against bacteria.

If neither of the options is possible for you, change your towels as often as you can or even get a clean towel every time you reach for it.

Why You Should Kill Bacteria on Towels

Bacteria can make the towels smell musty and sour. The mildew smell is a sign that a bacteria colony is breeding and growing. All it takes is a towel put away wet leaving it bunched up in a warm room.

Talking about damp, it’s not only bacteria. There is also mold and yeast on them. It sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? And when you think about it, they can also harm your skin.

How? Rubbing down with a dirty towel, and you could be at risk for infection. “When you use a towel vigorously, you scratch your skin,” says Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona. Small breaks occur in your skin, but they are too small to get noticed, and these break enable bacteria to get in your body.

So if you are acne-prone, you should get a clean and sterile towel every time.

Bacterial Contamination After One Day

Results of a test made by Dr. Oz and NSF International, an independent organization that checks product safety, proved that. They tested 31 towels that had been used for one day, 7 days or 14 days.

Significant amounts of bacteria were present on all of the towels tested, including those used for only one day. There were also yeast microbes present on more than half of the towels. Mold was present on nearly half of the towels, and some even held significant amounts of E. coli.

If you use your towel for hands and face, it could cause serious problems on your skin. I wouldn’t like to rub my face with a towel that has bacteria, mold and yeast on.

Even the towels used for only one day were seriously contaminated. Results of the test have shown that the amount of E. coli was ten times greater on towels used by men for two weeks. Yeast was hundred times greater on towels used by women for one day.

The results show we should change our towels at least once or twice a week.

How Can You Sanitize Towels?

Obviously, washing them. Hot temperatures can kill most germs – usually at least 140°F (60°C). A temperature of 155°F (68°C) is safer, though. Cotton towels can be washed at such a high temperature but it’s too hot for linen towels.

„Hot temperatures can kill most germs — usually at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.“

Can You Reuse a Bath Towel?

It is safe to reuse a bath towel a few times between washes. However, you should always hang them and let them dry because when they are damp, they can quickly become home to unwanted microorganisms.

I’ve done a research regarding recommendations of various experts and the most common time they advice to wash bath towels is every two to three uses. However, I wouldn’t recommend to use the same towel more than once on your face especially if you have acne-prone skin.

It is easy to get infection onto your face. More so if you use a facial massager or derma roller where your skin is supposed to be perfectly clean and sterile.

How To Kill Bacteria While Washing

Washing does not automatically mean that all harmful microorganisms are killed in the process. It is the drying that counts. The heat of a tumble dryer ranges from 130 to 150° F so the unwanted bacteria and fungus are killed in the dryer on high heat.

Hanging the towels outdoors in direct sunlight for a couple of hours is best, if you have a balcony or garden. Have you noticed how nice do the towels smell when they are left to dry in fresh air? The sun’s ultraviolet rays act as a natural disinfectant, they are as effective as bleach or clorox but more natural and safer.

Drying the towels in sunshine and fresh air is perfect but what about in winter?

Sterilization: Hot Towel Warmer Cabinet

If you don’t sterilize your towels at least once in a while, they can become smelly, indicating bacteria or germ growth. It is a big difference to wrap yourself in a fresh and nice smelling towel or a stinky one, isn’t it?

I haven’t found any case of someone getting sick from using a towel full of bacteria or mold. However, the risk exists so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Hot towel warmer cabinet is a great invention I found only recently. These practical cabinets sterilize all towels with ultra light so you can be sure the towel you rub your face with is perfectly clean.

They vary in size and features, the smallest ones (8L) are size of a microwave and fit well even in the smallest bathrooms.

And another benefit apart from sanitizing your towels is the nice feeling of a hot towel on your skin.


  1. The best way to kill bacteria on towels is to wash them at high temperature and let them dry in direct sunlight.
  2. Hang up your towels after each use to help them dry properly and prevent odor.
  3. Sterilizing damp towels in a hot towel warmer cabinet provides cosy-warm towels free of bacteria for every day use. Having this useful assistant in your bathroom, you can reuse the towels more times without worrying about bacteria and viruses.

10 thoughts on “How To Kill Bacteria On Towels

  1. Great article. It is really informative. You know many people today suffer from skin problems because of not paying attention to the cleanliness of the towels they use. The information on how to properly clean our towels as presented in this article can help people avoid various skin problems. 

     I agree with you that towels specifically for the face should only be used once. A friend of mine was having severe facial rashes because of using towels several times without washing.


    1. It’s true and I’m always very careful with towels on my face, rather than using a towel that was used several times I would let my face dry on its own. Nevertheless, it is a nice feeling to have a warm towel (and even a sterilized one) ready for use after a wash or a shower, especially in winter.

  2. This is a very important topic. As generally known having a direct sunlight in a place like Germany in winter is not possible so I usually wash towels with an anti-bacterial detergent before drying on the heater. However, your recommendation of sterilizing damp towels in a hot towel warmer cabinet for every day use is very good.

    1. I think there are many people unaware of the fact how many bacteria a towel that still seems pretty clean after a few uses can hold. Yeah, the biggest problem is winter, you can’t put the towels outside and they get damp easily.

  3. Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful piece of information here with us. I must say I really did enjoy going through your article as it applies to our everyday life and our personal hygiene. For me, I have always used a different towel for my face and for my body. A sterilizer to kill bacteria may come in handy as well, I’m considering buying one. 

  4. Hello there! Thank you very much for dropping this wonderful piece of information. I have gone through the article and it’s a very well detailed one. It also contains valuable information. I think many people are not aware that bacteria live on towels. This is the reason most people have rough skin. I was like that too for a while and it affected my skin. I currently have eczema and I think that’s the reason. Can you suggest something to clear it? 

    1. Eczema could be caused by various causes and I’m not a doctor, but if it was me, I would try natural remedies like aloe vera. A great disinfectant is tea tree oil as well. 
      I would also recommend you detox and take good care of your nutrition. Avoid sugar and try to have as many natural (unprocessed) foods and drinks as possible.

  5. Hey Sophie, an interesting article on how to kill bacteria on towels! I like to keep my towels nice and clean with no smell. I wash at least a load of towels daily because I dont use the same towel more than once. I know I am a little OCD when it comes to towels. But I am considering purchasing that towel warmer, I may be able to finally cut back on towel washing. 

  6. Hi Lenka Sophie, I read your article with a lot of pleasure, and I got some helpful information about how to kill bacteria on the towels. What I already do in my home is that I wash them often at high temperatures (as you recommend here) and dry the towels in the sun. I’m blessed to have my balcony sunny most of the time. I didn’t know that there was also UV sterilization for towels, and I think it is good to use this device, especially for baby towels to protect and keep them safe. It is scary to think that we can get so many skin infections and bacteria using our towels. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Towels are another thing that contributes to the germs and bacteria that are found in our bodies. And surprisingly, people are so ignorant of this. Some people don’t even care about the cleanliness of their towels. One thing that I’ll like to add to this is that people should at least have not less than two towels for use so that they could interchange. 

    And again, the overuse of a towel is not cool. Like me, when I noticed my towel is getting old I’ll have it replaced immediately. I’ve learned a lot from your article. I didn’t know there was also UV sterilization to kill bacteria on towels.

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