If you’re like many people who live along the coast, you probably spend a lot of time at the beach or at the pool. That means you use a beach towel quite often.
One question that often confounds people, though, is how often to launder their towels, especially if a return trip to the water is on the agenda.
Just like bath and kitchen towels, the porous, damp nature of beach towels makes them an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
As such, the safest approach is to wash a beach towel after every use, says Angela Harris, infection control manager for Tidelands Health. Depending on the towel material, you’ll generally want to use hot water, a quality detergent and tumble dry. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you decide not to wash your towel, make sure to promptly and thoroughly dry it in a well-ventilated area that will allow moisture to escape.
After your towel is completely dry, shake it vigorously. This will eliminate excess sand, which is much easier to remove from a dry towel than a damp one.
If you can’t find a good spot to quickly and thoroughly air dry your towel, pop it in a dryer, she says. The dryer’s heat will eliminate moisture and help kill bacteria.
Don’t wait to wash a towel if it develops any sort of odor, becomes soiled or is used by someone who is ill, she says.
“If you have any question about whether a towel is clean enough to use, wash it,” she says. “It’s always better to err on the side of caution.”