Should Towels Be Washed In Hot Water?

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So many people are in doubt as to the right temperature of water to use in washing their towels. For some, they are indifferent, it does not matter the water temperature used as long as the towel gets cleaned. 

But, this is not just a question of whether the towel gets cleaned or not, the water temperature used in washing towels is so important as they can either uphold or damage your towels. 

Hot water and towels

What then is right for us to use, hot or cold? As a rule, your towels are to be washed in either cold or warm water. Cold water is enough to get your towels clean. If you need to disinfect them, warm water should do the trick. It works to kill microorganisms accumulated overtime on the towels and erases every form of unpleasant smell.


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When to wash towels in cold, hot, or warm water

As earlier stated, towels are meant to be washed in cold or warm water. But, does this mean that we are never to use hot water on our towels? Surely you must have come across a label on some towels that reads “hot water-friendly,” what then do they mean? 

There are specific times when you might have to choose a different water temperature like hot water for instance, over the ideal cold or warm. Hot water is perfect for your towels to get soaked in when they are extremely dirty and heavily infested with germs and bacteria. 

How do you know your towel is contaminated with germs? Various research has proven that a bath towel most especially, is home to over 80% of bacteria and disease-causing germs. The more you use a towel without washing it, the more germs you collate, and the more the towel fibers are rendered useless. 

When your towels get to this point, what it needs goes far beyond just a cold or warm water wash. At this point, the towels are actually yearning to be rejuvenated. 

Hot water helps in loosening the fibers by softening the ingrained dirt clogging the pores. Asides from that, it kills the bacteria and germs and expels that damp odor.

On the other hand, cold water is perfect for a first wash and subsequent weekly wash. It is advised that you wash new towels before even using them. This you are to do with cold water and a very tiny amount of detergent. Cold water easily removes every form of dust or debris and wash towels clean. 

Warm water can be used to treat towels periodically and rid them of day-to-day bacteria.

What other materials should you not wash with hot water? 

Not every material is hot water-friendly, before dipping any material into a steaming hot bowl of water, be sure to consult the labeling tag to know if that is a step in the right direction or not. 

Apart from towels that are to be washed once in a while with hot water, there are other kinds of materials that do not take lightly to hot water at all. They include materials like wool and silk. 

These are obviously delicate materials bound to react badly to extreme heat. Washing them in hot water would see them shrink so bad, lose their absolutely soft texture, and cut short their life span. 

For materials that are prone to let out their natural color as you wash, cold water would be a much better option to wash them with. Also, protein-based stains can prove difficult to remove using hot water. The result you would get is a total discoloration of the towel. For easy removal of the stains, wash in cold water.

How to revive your towels

There comes a time when you would notice a decline in the absorbent power of your towels, and a change in their soft, fluffy texture. You know your towel is due for a revival when they don’t feel as soft and fluffy again and smell as fresh as they used to. Get them up to speed once more using these  easy steps:

  • Step 1: load towels into the machine. Do not overload so towels can be allowed to freely move in the tub.
  • Step 2: Get not just vinegar but, white vinegar and add two cups into the load. Note: only white vinegar is required in this phase. Do not use detergent or any kind of fabric fragrance or softeners.
  • Step 3: make use of the hottest cycle and begin the wash.

Now, this is for the 1st phase. Reviving towels takes a whole lot of process and we are just about to delve into yet another one. 

After the 1st hot water wash cycle, leave clothes still in the machine and this time around, add a cup of baking soda and a little amount of an additive-free detergent. Set it once more to the hottest cycle and allow it to run again. 

This step usually succeeds in washing away all forms of odor including that from the pre-wash using vinegar and brings the towel back to life.

You can also opt for strip washing which entails setting the towels in hot water and leaving them in there till it gets cold before adding your white vinegar and setting it to wash. Either method you choose, you are assured of getting your towel bounced back to life.


What kind of germs and bacteria can be found on dirty towels

E- Coli: Yes, you heard right. Microbiologists have been able to detect e-coli as one of the bacteria present on damp towels. As a matter of fact, a study has shown that 14% of bath towels are unknowingly e coli shelters. 

To be clear, e-coli is that bacteria that ordinarily should be found in the digestion pathway of humans. It is mostly transferred from person to person through human waste. 

Salmonella: I know you stopped at salmon, but I actually meant salmonella. This belongs to the same family umbrella as Enterobacteriaceae. These bacteria are known for causing typhoid fever and diarrhea and should be avoided at all cost. 

What are examples of good towel hygiene practices? 

Towels more than anything else, have easy access to transfer germs directly to us and make us sick. Good towel hygiene practices would see that our towels are stripped of the power to harm us and instead, guarantee our safety. They include but are not limited to the following:

Washing our towels at least once every week. Do you know that as you dry your body with a towel, it cleans off surface bodily germs and bacteria and traps them within? This goes on to say that a single usage of your towel is enough to certify it unfit for the next use. You can however find a way around this by:

  • Drying your towels after use. By drying, I do not mean hanging on a hook in the bathroom or in a corner of the room. I mean, taking it all the way out to line dry and be heated by the sun. This would kill off daily germs and bacteria that are most likely to still be at the surface and stop them from penetrating further and breeding freely.
  • Do not use the same towel for your body to wipe your face. It is solid fact that the face has the most sensitive skin in the body. It requires utmost care and protection. Using the towel used to dry off your body to also clean the face would see a smooth transition of the germs gathered by the towel from your body to the face.
  • Wash towels alone. Do not wash them together with other clothing materials.

The best practice is to get a separate towel for the face usually called a face towel. Alternatively, you can just allow the face naturally dry out on its own if you don’t have a face towel. 

  • Do not make use of a towel belonging to another person. Except they are new, don’t use it. A towel is personal property. Guard yours jealously and see that you don’t make use of that belonging to someone else.
  • If you have an open sore or an injury, please do not use your towel to clean over that area. That would be giving germs and fungi a direct pass into your system. Have more than one towel. The more towels you have, the more you are able to rotate and avoid the frequent washing that soon damages the towel’s fibers.

Why can’t we wash our towels in hot water all the time? 

Ordinarily, hot water is not meant for towels. They are to be used occasionally for cases of heavy bacteria infestations or deeply seated oil and grease stains. 

Frequent washing of towels with hot water is not advised as towels are made with delicate materials like fiber and cotton. Cotton are soft and tender and not hot water friendly. If used continuously, it would cause the towels to shrink and it’s fibers to be rigid and useless.

Should Towels Be Washed In Hot Water – Conclusion

Our towels can take us from healthy to seriously ill in a second. To this end, I advise that their proper care be taken more seriously. 

Proper care in terms of the right way of washing and overall storage and maintenance is not as complicated as we might think.

Simply follow the spelled out guidelines and when in doubt, consult the care tags on the fabrics themselves. Details bordering on the best way to wash, right detergent and water temperature to use, best-drying method, etc can be found listed on the care tags. 

Follow them religiously to the letter and feel the rewarding impact of high towel hygiene standards.

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