How Often Should I Wash My Towel and Bath Mat?

In keeping with the all too common theme around here of “things I’m overly concerned with and with which the rest of the population pays no mind,” today we shall broach the subject of bathroom linens.

It’s occurred to me that people are in quite a quandary about such things as towels and bath mats. Having never been overtly instructed on how often to wash these items, you pretzels are stumbling around blindly, constantly conflicted over when to classify a towel as dirty, and probably neglecting to remember to wash your bathroom rug at all.

Well that stops now.


Every time you use your towel to rub-a-dub-scrub your supple body dry, tiny flakes of dead skin cells are shed, transferring onto the towel fibers. So there’s that. Your bathroom registers a ‘Miami’ on the humidity index, making it the optimal environment for bacteria to grow. So there’s that too.

Taking the above factors into consideration, your towel may acceptably be used roughly 3 times before it needs to be laundered.

If you’ve fallen far down the well of anal retention and have a housekeeper who does your mountains of laundry, then go ahead and wash that towel after every single use. The often-er the merrier! For the average Joe, using that towel around three times will ensure you stay comfortably balanced between OCD-clean and a festering labyrinth of bacteria and germs and you’re disgusting go hang your head in shame.


There are restrictions to that tri-towel-rule. You MAY reuse your towel ONLY IF you hang it up to dry after use. Let it sit in a wet, sopping heap and you can forget about any type of second-time-around’s. Wet towel + no drying = major mold.

Bath mats

There is some leeway on this one, a judgment call really, though “never” is not an option; take into account how much moisture your bath mat is exposed to and then choose a laundry schedule based upon that.

For instance, if you live alone and you shower just once a day, you can safely use that same mat for roughly two weeks before the bacteria monsters overtake it. If you live in a busier household where several members are using the same bathroom daily and the mat is exposed to lots of water with little opportunity to dry out between uses, then you’ll want to clean it closer to once a week.

Note that the same principles stated above apply here as well: if you manage to hang your mat up to dry you can stave off mold/ bacteria growth and extend the time between washings.

Image credits: Martha Stewart for MacysMartha Stewart, Horchow, BHG



  1. I’m embarrassed to say that I definitely should have read this post while I was in college. Eek.

  2. Towels – at the end of each day (used twice)
    Bath mat – at the end of each week (in with the sheets!)

  3. Hi love! Oh how I’ve missed you! So happy to be back. Still not up to full speed but I had to check in with you to see all the goodness I’ve missed :)

    I’m a freak about bathroom towels. Also dishtowels. I wash them constantly. Used to be every day but my housecleaner bailed on me last March and I’ve had to go to an every other day or max 3 day rule. That laundry definitely piles up but it’s worth it for the peace of mind :)

    Hope you’re having a great week, love! xoxo

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