Can You Wash Towels and Clothes Together?


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Stacey Koziel

A dryer in a laundry room has clothing spilling out of it.
Evgeny Atamanenko/

Laundry is often a chore you want to get done as quickly as possible. You might think you can save time by mixing and matching different items—towels and clothes. If they’re similar colors, it shouldn’t be a problem, right? But can you wash towels and clothes together?

Unfortunately, no. Washing towels and clothes together has very little to do with darks and lights, and everything to do with the spread of bacteria.

When you wash towels with clothes, you run the risk of transferring bacteria from the towels onto your clothing. It’s not sanitary, and could actually end up making you sick if you wear some of that clothing right away and the bacteria is still lingering.

Instead of tossing your towels and clothes in the wash together, make sure you know how to wash towels on their own properly.

First, make sure you always use hot water when washing towels. Not only will it keep the colors brighter, but it will help to kill any bacteria in the fibers. If you really want to get them clean, use a detergent with color-safe bleach. Some washers have specific “towel” settings, but if yours doesn’t, go for a normal or regular cycle.

Everyone loves a warm, soft towel when they get out of the shower, so avoid overdoing it on the fabric softener. It can cause buildup and actually shorten the lifespan of your towels. If you’re going to use fabric softener, limit it to every third or fourth wash.

Washing your towels separately from your clothes might take a bit of extra time and effort, but it’s worth it to keep yourself clean and safe and to boost the longevity of your favorite fluffy towels.

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