If you're drying off after a hot shower with a damp, dingy towel, you may want to hop back in and rinse off.
Dermatologists say the cloth hanging up in your bathroom will get you dry, but it also soaks up dead skin cells and other body bacteria.
People lose about 30,000 skin cells every hour, some of which inevitably sloughs off into your bathroom towels.
That may sound gross, but it probably won't make you sick. More problematic is the growth of bacteria on a towel's wet, warm surface if it's not allowed to dry properly.
"So, if you go and dry off with it again, well, you are putting those bacteria back on yourself," says Gary Slaughter, a dermatologist with Charlotte Dermatology in Charlotte, N.C.
Just the idea of breeding bacteria sends Melanie Perez's skin crawling, which is why her towels take a trip to the hamper every three days. Even bigger germaphobes insist on a fresh towel after every shower.
"I think they're going to be the happier ones, but they'll also have the higher electric bill!" Slaughter said.
Unless there's a stench or moisture saturation, dermatologists say a towel should be OK to use for an entire week. Not only will you stay clean, but you will also save money.
Slaughter says the towel that needs the most frequent washing is the one under your feet. The bathroom rug is the ripest source of skin cells, bacteria and mildew because water and body dander drain down to your feet as you're drying off.
"You can grow a lot of stuff in the bathroom!" laughs Slaughter.
But he's right.
Viruses can also fester if you're sick and sharing towels. In this case, it's smart to swap them out every two to three days for both health and hygiene.
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