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An Ultimate Guide to Towel Cleanliness

Posted by The Canningvale Team on

So you’ve recently purchased a Canningvale bath towel or bath sheet. Now what?

Understanding how to correctly wash, dry and cycle through your towels is important for both your comfort and your health. Our towel experts have compiled the ultimate resource guide to preserve your towels with easy-to-follow care tips to keep them feeling fresh and luxurious. Learn how often you should wash your towels, if you can wash towels with clothes, and what settings to wash towels of different colours and materials so you can indulge yourself with hotel-worthy towels for years down the track.

How many bath towels should you load in the washing machine?

One of the most commonly asked questions our customers ask is how to properly wash their new bath sheet or bath towel. This question can be broken down into many different aspects, so we’ll start from the very beginning of your wash cycle.

Washing machines come in all different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to choose one that suits your household needs.The size also determines the amount of bath towels that will fit comfortably in one load.

You never want to overstuff a load. If you do, it could mean that things aren’t being cleaned or rinsed properly. There should be plenty of water around your towels to allow them to effectively soak, wash and rinse.

As a general rule a 7 kg washing machine fits up to 7 kgs of dry clothes. When converted to bath towels, this equals anywhere from 4 to 7 towels depending on their size and thickness. Remember: Bath sheets are much larger than towels and an average load will hold less. Please read the requirements for your machine for specific instructions. 

Tips for properly washing your bath sheets

If you’ve just bought a  new bath towel or sheet, it’s a good idea to wash it before use. This ensures they’re clean and fresh and ready to go to work. To do so correctly, you should always measure your washing liquids and powders. None of this free pouring business. If you over-pour, it’s not only a waste of detergent, but it could prevent your towels from being properly cleaned. That’s because your standard rinse cycle isn’t equipped to rinse out the extra detergent present in your wash. Instead, it weighs down your towels, covering them with a soapy or slimy residue and can impact the long term absorbency and fluff.

On that same hand, if your towels are coming out of the wash stiff as a board, don’t panic and tip in extra fabric softener. Adding extra products and chemicals can have a negative impact on your towel’s terry loop fibres, making it less hotel-luxury and more scratchy-motel a lot faster than if you left your load alone. The best temperature to wash towels with is hotly debated. While there are pros and cons to both ends of the temperature spectrum, here is some general advice to live by: While hot water is best for killing off any lingering bacteria, it also damages the fibres of your bath towel, shortening its lifespan and making it less fluffy after every use. If you do wish to use hot water, note that it’s best suited to white towels as the high heat can dull the colours of other towels. Warm water, or better yet cold water, washes are much better at preventing shrinkage, colour fading and other structural damages while working harder to lift and remove stains. Never use bleach to clean your towels as it will both stain and damage the structure of your fabric. And always, where possible, wash towels separately to other clothing items. The rough fabrics like denim, or zippers and clasps could cause premature pilling to your brand new towels. For more information on the breakdown of when to use a hot or cold water wash, check out this informative guide.

How often do bath towels needs cleaning?

Your bath towel is dirty. In fact, it’s filthy. While you might be squeaky clean, having just showered, when it’s time to dry off, think about all the dead skin cells, saliva, bits of urine etc that you rub off onto your towel. As soon as you’ve used it, a damp towel becomes a hallowed breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and fungi that live in a bathroom. They collect in the fibres of your towel and the longer it’s left, the more opportunities there are for bacteria to thrive and multiply. Then, the next time you go to use your bath towel, you’re rubbing all those germs back onto your clean body….

Time Magazine, microbiologist, Dr Charles Gerba discovered that almost 90 per cent of bath towels and bath sheets were contaminated with coliform bacteria,and about 14 per cent had traces of E. Coli. And while most of the bacteria present isn’t likely to cause any serious harm, knowing that they’re growing like in a petri dish isn’t a pleasant thought.

You can reduce any health risks by washing your bath towels either once a week, or after every three to five uses. Anything more and you risk letting your pristine towel go gross. Something to keep in mind is, if you suffer from body acne or other skin conditions, you may want to wash your towels more frequently. In some cases as often as after every use as the bacteria growth on your towels can lead to more breakouts on your skin.

The art of drying towel

While correct washing procedures are important, it’s just as vital to know how to properly dry and store your bath sheets and towels to ensure they stay fresh for longer. There are several different ways to dry your towels.

If you have a tumble dryer, using a high heat setting will help dry out the thick fabrics and keep them feeling soft and fluffy. As a bonus, it can help kill off any remaining bacteria after the wash. Make sure your towels are completely dry when they’re removed from the dryer. Even slightly damp fabrics will quickly breed bacteria and mildew. If you can, avoid over-drying as it could damage your towel in the long run. It may take you a couple of cycles to get the right heat and timing down to a T.

If you don’t own a tumble dryer, never fear. Drying them as nature intended works just as well, it simply takes a bit longer. Line drying in the sun helps aid in killing bacteria and the natural breeze will imbue your bath towel with a lovely fresh scent. If your towels are coloured, try to avoid drying them in direct sunlight as they’ll be prone to fading. 

The best option for drying is a combination of tumbling and line hanging. Remove your towels from the dryer about 20 minutes into the cycle and then hang them out to dry. This is the best method to preserve the towel fibres which will keep them fluffy and absorbent for much longer. When storing in a linen cupboard, carefully fold them and ensure they’re housed in a cool space.

How to keep them fluffy and nice?

The best part about staying in a hotel is the large, fluffy towels you can wrap yourself in after every shower. What if we told you that recreating this luxury can easily be done at home? Here’s the insider scoop to luxuriously soft bath sheets and towels every time.

An easy step is when you take them out of the washer, make sure you give your towels a thorough shake. This will help fluff up all the terry loops which are what makes your towel so absorbent. Towels don’t dry you by just absorbing water. Those terry loops help to brush the water off your body so damaging them in any way will impact how well it dries and how nice it feels. It’s important to never iron your towels as this will 100 per cent damage those loops.

While even the highest quality towels become stiff and scratchy over time, there are ways to mitigate the damage. Take your load of droopy towels and place them on the sanitize cycle. Add a cup of vinegar instead of laundry soap. Then continue to run the wash, rinse and spin cycle (while skipping the fabric softener). Once completed, run the load again but add a cup of baking soda in the place of vinegar and soap and let it take its natural course. This combination will help breathe life back into older towels.

An old hack, but a good hack, is placing a tennis ball in the washer or dryer. This works as an agitator against the fibres, helping to fluff them up and create lovely soft towels for you. Trust us, it works every time.

Shop: Luxury Egyptian Royal Range 

Getting rid of musty smell from towels

Say you’ve done everything right, you’ve measured your detergent, portioned your load properly and yet your new bath sheet comes out smelling musty. It’s important to remember to take your towels out as soon as your washing load has finished. If you leave damp towels sitting in the machine, you’re opening the door for mildew to settle in, creating that musty locker room odour. To eradicate any lingering smells, there’s a simple solution: Just add half a cup of baking powder to your load. This will help to freshen up your bath towels and ensure they stay in great condition for much longer. For other home remedies to eliminate odours, check out this article.

Should you dry and reuse the same bath towel?

If you can dry your bath towel completely, then the same rules apply - no more than 3 times maximum before putting it in the wash. If there’s any musty smells or you notice it’s still damp or weighed down, then you should consider switching to a fresh bath towel. While it may appear clean, a damp towel plays host to the ideal breeding ground for germs: water, warm temperatures, oxygen and food. Hence why it’s important to remember to stick to a consistent laundry schedule and make sure you’re drying your bath towel properly between uses.

Don’t leave it scrunched up after a shower. Spread it out completely over the whole rack. The bigger the surface area, the better it will dry. This helps give your towel some much needed air and kills any extra bacteria which might try to make your bathroom home.


It’s one thing to use your own towel multiple times, as the bacteria present is also present on your body, but it’s different if someone else is using it too. If you share a towel with someone, there’s a chance you could come into contact with microbes that your body isn’t used to dealing with. This heightens your risk for acne, boils or other skin irritants and infections.

How many bath towels should you use ideally per person?

This is a personal preference. Many women may use a bath sheet for their bodies and a bath towel for their hair while men may use one bath towel or sheet for both. It also depends on lifestyle. If you shower more often, you may cycle through more towels than someone who doesn’t. Take into consideration how many people live in your home and how much storage space is available for your towels.

We recommend having three or four bath towels and/or bath sheets each to allow for sufficient coverage between laundry loads. This way, you’ll have spares for when guests visit. Cannginvale makes it easy with towel set bundles so you’re covering all your bases.

Believe it or not, good quality bath towels can last you up to ten years if the proper care procedures are followed. While the average lifespan is just over five years, by following our washing care guide you can preserve the integrity of your bath linens and keep them looking and feeling new. Turn your bathroom into a hotel-worthy oasis with Canningvale’s line of deluxe bath towels and bath sheets. And remember! Always check the label for particular washing care instructions.

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