How often should you wash your towels? New survey finds shocking number of people only wash them once per year

point of view from washing machine - woman grabbing out towel and pinching nose to indicate bad smell
Queue the meme of the Scottish mother yelling, "Disgustang!" Photo credit: Getty Images

By now, many of us will have come to the realisation that Sid from Ice Age was right: humans are disgusting.

Back in 2020, a survey determined that roughly one in 30 people poo in the shower (queue the meme of the Scottish mother yelling, "Disgustang!") and now, a new study has found over 1 million people in the United Kingdom only wash their bathroom towels once per year.

I repeat: once per year. Shame on you all.

To get the dirty lowdown, British bathroom products provider Showers to You surveyed 2200 residents in the UK on how often they wash their bathroom towels - and the results may have you dry-heaving.

Of those surveyed, 3 percent admitted they only wash their towels once a year; if this statistic was indicative of the population as a whole, that would mean over 1.5 million people across the UK are guilty of this major towel transgression.

Meanwhile, almost one in 10 surveyed (8 percent) said they only wash their bathroom towels twice a year, equating to over 4 million people nationwide, while a third of those surveyed (33 percent) reported washing their towels once every three months at most - equating to over 17.5 million people.

The research also found men were five times more likely to wash their towels just once a year, with 5 percent of male respondents admitting to the gross breach of personal hygiene compared to 1 percent of women.

Thankfully, almost a quarter of respondents (24 percent) said they wash their towels once a week, while the majority (38 percent) said they mostly stuck to a once-a-month clean. One in 20 (5 percent) admitted washing their towels every day - I'd hate to see their power bill.

"The bathroom should in theory be one of the cleanest rooms in the home, however our research shows that many people across the country could be ignoring a key step in ensuring proper bathroom hygiene," Showers to You founder Martin Smith said.

"While it's encouraging to see the data shows the majority of respondents are keeping up with regularly washing their bathroom towels, everyone should ensure they are ensuring a regular routine of washing their towels in line with guidance from health professionals, especially for those who only give their towels an annual wash."

When it came to the driving factors behind chucking the towel in the wash, visual cleanliness was the most common at 67 percent, followed by smell (61 percent), 'number of uses' (58 percent), and 'stiffness' (15 percent). Additionally, 11 percent of respondents said they weren't concerned - at all - by the bacteria stemming from their infrequent washing of towels.

Commenting on the findings, board-certified dermatologist Dr Hamdan Abdullah Hamed (MBChB) stressed that regularly washing your bathroom towels is critical for good hygiene and reducing the risk of infections.   

"Regular washing of bathroom towels is important to maintain cleanliness and reduce the risk of infections. Towels tend to accumulate moisture, creating an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. Bacteria like staphylococcus aureus can lead to skin infections, while fungi like Candida yeast can cause issues like athlete's foot or yeast infections," he said. 

"Additionally, dirty towels may contain allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or skin irritations in sensitive individuals. Therefore, it is recommended to wash towels after every three to four uses to eliminate bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells, and allergens, ensuring optimal hygiene and minimising health risks."

With it being a new year, take this as your sign to change your disgusting human ways and turn over a new leaf - or a new towel, at the very least. You know - new year, new towel.