There are 3 main ways through which germs can spread by towels:
- When towels are used by more than one person, germs can spread from one person to the others
- When someone handles a dirty towel,they can spread germs onto their hands
- When towels are Improperly washed, germs can spread to other clothes while being washed.
Towels are such great bacteria traps because every time you use a towel, you transfer your natural skin bacteria, and any other germs you're carrying onto its surface. Most of these germs may have negative health effects on others. But towels offer the perfect environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow because they're often damp, warm and absorbent, and they hang in dark bathrooms. Because your hands can transfer microbes to your towels from whatever they touch, the bathroom is especially a threatening place for a towel to spend most of its time.
Laboratory tests conducted on towels show that significant numbers of bacteria and yeast microbes are present in towels that were used for at least 7 days and number increased with more usage. The most common types of microbes found in a used towel are as follows:
- Yeast/Mould: causes respiratory disease or magnifies allergies.
- Aerobic bacteria — Bacteria that grows in the presence of oxygen and is a common cause of clinical infection.
- Coliforms — Bacteria of faecal origin that includes E. coli.
- Coli bacteria — associated with food poisoning and a common cause of urinary tract infections.
Your own germs may make you sick, but you also increase your chance of picking up a disease when you share towels. As you rub your skin—especially open pustules—with a dirty towel, bacteria could get on your skin and it's not extremely unusual to actually pick up a disease from a bath towel
Irrespective of the fiber used, quality and frequency of use, a towel is best not to be used more than 150 washes, as the fiber's properties after this period become redundant and become a repository for dead cells, damaged hair, detergent residue and more. This in turn can be detrimental to your skin and increase the possibility of catching infections. It is recommended to change your towel frequently, ideally every 90 days or 150 washes.
Cotton is only known for its plushness, durability and absorbency, whereas it is not known to be anti-microbial, which by itself makes it not so ideal choice, when it comes to hygienic towel usage. As an alternative, there are towels that are being made from special fibres like Banana fiber, Bamboo etc which are known for their anti-microbial properties. Next time when you purchase a towel, look out for towels that are made up of natural fibers that have anti-microbial properties.
While cotton and polyester are currently still the most commonly used fibres in the textile industry, other natural fibres such as banana seem to be gaining market traction due to their softness and anti-microbial properties. It is becoming a good alternative for many traditional fibres used in the market. The strong and durable banana fibres are creamy white to brown in colour. Fabrics made out of the fibre has good lustre, light weight and faster moisture absorption. This woven fabric looks similar to linen.
Researchers claim that using the same towel to dry both body and face is not advisable. Your facial skin is delicate and sensitive, and none of the oils from your body or your hair should ever be transferred on to your face. Remember there are parts of the body that are delicate, rough, coarse and frequently exposed to the environment and they require special care and different methods of hygiene.
Not many people use a separate face towel and separate bath towel. In this case, a double-sided towel would help the cause, which combines the usefulness of two products in one, Dual sided towels possess two sides made of different properties, texture, and pattern for dual purposes (one side for face and other side for body).We often fail to identify the portion that is ideal to use in the face due to lack of colour differentiation.
Moisture retained in the towel is one of the primary factors that enable the growth of disease-causing microbes. While cotton inherently is known to have these, there are newer fibers like bamboo and banana yarn that have even better absorbent and quick drying properties.When it comes to quick drying, a marginal increase in the drying time of the towels could help vastly in reducing the growth of microbes. Albeit its slightly expensive, it is better to go with towels that are made of banana fibers, as it is your health that is at risk.