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Bathroom confessions: How often do you change your towels?

A recent survey by Soak&Sleep has revealed that nearly one in five of us are at risk of picking up germs from dirty hand towels because we aren’t washing them often enough. But what exactly is enough?

Hands. Face. Space. We’re all now familiar with the government advice issued to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and, from the beginning, washing our hands better and more regularly was stressed as being a top priority. But at no point was the importance of washing our hand towels ever pointed out to us. 

Now a recent survey by Soak&Sleep has revealed that nearly one in five of us are at risk of picking up germs from dirty hand towels because we aren’t washing them often enough. But what exactly is often enough?! 

Britain’s bathroom confessions: What the survey said… 

17.7% of survey participants were only washing hand towels weekly, or even less frequently.

Over half (59%) were not washing towels at the NHS advised 60 degrees or higher.

Only 23% were adding anything (like bleaching agents) to the laundry to help kill germs.

46% of people were using their hand towels to dry other parts of their body, including their faces, heads and feet. 

85% of people are washing their hand towels more frequently than normal since the pandemic

24% of Britons admit to sharing bath towels – with 17% using their partner’s or housemate’s towel behind their back! (Men are 25% more likely than women to be the offenders. Obviously). 

Full results for how often people wash/change their hand towels

Daily – 27%

Twice-a-week – 40%

Weekly – 11%

Fortnightly – 2%

Monthly – 1% 

A Doctor’s perspective

“Germs don’t live for long on most fabrics, but hand-towels can harbour germs because they are often kept in damp, warm conditions in households, and so bacteria is able to live longer,’ explains Dr Alana Hare, Consultant Physician at the Department of Sleep & Ventilation, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. ‘When they are being used by multiple people in the home, it’s best to change them at least twice a week for fresh towels and follow the government advice on cleaning them thoroughly.”

The advice

When they are being used by multiple people in the home, it’s best to change hand towels at least twice a week for fresh towels.

Hand towels are classed as high-risk items by the NHS because they are often shared by multiple users. The NHS advise washing them separately at 60 degrees or more with a bleach-based product.

Damp towels are also the perfect breeding ground for bacteria – so don’t leave them hanging in a moist bathroom where they can’t dry out!

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