The most germ-infested item in your bathroom is probably not what you’d think (your toilet brush), but your bath towel.
Sure, your body might be pretty clean the moment you step out of the shower, but as soon as you wrap a clean, dry towel around your body, your dead skin rubs off and sticks to the fibers of your towel.
Towels are also incredibly absorbent—that’s what they’re made to do. The moisture they retain make them ideal breeding grounds for mold and other bacteria. That’s why it’s highly important to make sure that your towels dry out completely after a shower.
“If it remains wet, bacteria will grow”
“It’s the same problem as with the loofah sponge. If it remains wet, bacteria will grow,” Marilyn Roberts, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, told Yahoo Beauty.
“Bacteria love moisture, but they do not love areas that have been desiccated. And bathrooms tend to be a humid place, so unless you live in a desert, your towel isn’t going to be dried from morning until evening.”
Though most of the bacteria on your skin isn’t harmful, bacteria from the water can thrive and linger on your towels. One example is nontuberculous mycobacteria, which are found in shower heads and are known to cause lung infections.
Another is Legionella, which can be found in water systems and is also harmful to your respiratory system. You could also get skin diseases like gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, and staph disease from a shared towel.
Got the heebie-jeebies yet? Read more about why it’s so important to keep your bath towels dry on the next page.
If someone in your home is sick, sharing a hand towel is an easy way to spread infections. “You have to realize that if anyone in your home is sick, the bathroom is a great place to transfer infections, whether it’s a skin infection, a cold, or a fecal-oral infection [where fecal matter is passed from one person to another],” Roberts continues. “And a lot of people don’t wash their hands properly.”
“The bathroom is a great place to transfer infections”
Jean Lang, the marketing director of Fieldcrest, tells Reader’s Digest that most people turn on a fan or open the windows while showering but turn the fan off or close the windows as they dry off. However, it’s more important that air circulates after the shower so that moisture is dispersed and the towel can dry.
To let your towel dry quickly:
- turn on a fan
- open a window
- hang your towel somewhere not as humid as the bathroom, like the bedroom
And of course, remember to wash your towel after three uses—at the most.
READ: You probably didn’t know that these household items have expiration dates
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