7 Signs You Should Really Replace Your Bath Towels

If the fabric is unraveling or the color is fading—or worse—it may be time to consider replacing your bath towels.

You use your bath towels on a daily basis, so it should come as no surprise that they get dirty quickly and need to be laundered often. Beyond frequent washes, though, how often should we actually be replacing our towels? After all, even super high-quality bath towels aren’t made to last forever. Here are some of the tell-tale signs you need to get rid of your old bath towels and start looking for new ones, according to our experts.

Left: Bath towels hanging on door; right: towels folded in baskets

Left: Helen Norman; Right: EDMUND BARR PHOTOGRAPHER | Design: Better Homes & Gardens

  • Lindsey Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of Weezie Towels, an Atlanta-based luxury towel retailer.
  • Daelin Arney is a soft goods designer at Cozy Earth, a textile and apparel company.

7 Signs You Need New Bath Towels

1. Your Towels Stopped Being Absorbent

Bathroom towels have one key purpose: to dry you off. If you notice you aren’t getting as dry as you used to or drying off seems to take longer, it's not you, it’s your towel. Your towels are probably old, according to Lindsey Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Weezie Towels.

“The telltale sign it's time to replace your towel is when it has lost its fluffy, absorbent qualities,” she tells Better Homes & Gardens.

2. Your Towels Are a Few Years Old

Do you remember the last time you bought new bath towels? If you don’t, you need new ones.

“If properly taken care of, high-quality towels should last you up to two years, depending on use,” Johnson says.

3. Your Towels Have a Lingering Odor

Towels can become stinky for lots of different reasons. It could be the person using it, or that the bathroom is poorly ventilated. But if you wash your towel and it still smells, that’s a clear sign it’s time for something new.

4. Your Towels Feel Scratchy

Do you remember the first few times you used your current bath towels? They probably felt soft, fluffy, and luxurious. But if it’s been months or years since you’ve enjoyed that plush sensation, it’s time for something new, explains Daelin Arney of Cozy Earth: “Towels can feel scratchy from residue from body oils and detergents that build up within the fabric. The buildup can cause stiffness and a rough feeling.”

If your towel is on the newer side and you’ve noticed the texture has suddenly changed, you could have hard water, or it may be time to switch laundry detergents.

5. The Color Is Fading

While towels are important from a practical standpoint, they’re also a great way to add a pop of color to your bathroom. If you’ve purchased colorful towels and noticed the shade has changed or they just don't look as vibrant as they used to, it’s a great excuse to start shopping.

However, if your towels are white and you want to brighten them up, using bleach is much less expensive than replacing them altogether. 

6. There’s Mildew Spotting

Not all bathrooms have good ventilation. If you notice mildew spots on your towels, they need to be thrown out. If this is continually an issue, be sure to turn on the fan or open up a window in your bathroom, particularly during and after you shower. If you don’t have either one of those options, leaving the door open can help reduce moisture, which is a cause of mildew.

7. There Are Rips or Holes in Your Towels

Towels aren’t designed to last forever, so if yours are ripped or have holes, they should be replaced. If you aren’t quite ready to toss them, consider repurposing them for cleaning or to dry off pets.

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