It’s late at night and you just finished washing the dirt off your face and body. When the last of the soap has been rinsed away, you reach out for your washcloth. Grabbing it, you start drying your face with it as a final step of your routine. Mid-pat, you pause. How long has it been since your washcloth has been thoroughly cleaned? How often does a washcloth have to be replaced, anyway?
Panicking, you dropped your washcloth and grabbed your phone to ask Google. Luckily for you, we have experts to help you answer your questions. Truthfully, there is no single study to give you definite answers. However, experts can offer you guidance on the best practices of using a washcloth to clean your face and body.
Neglecting to clean your washcloth on a regular basis can cause the towel to become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. According to Philip Tierno, Ph.D., clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Health, “There have been studies done on towels, sponges, and loofahs, so it’s very similar.” In this article, he’ll answer your questions on how often you should change your washcloth.
What happens to our washcloth when we shower?
Showering helps you get rid of dirt, sweat, allergens, sweat, and germs. Even after you clean and scrub your skin, there will still be bacteria, viruses and fungi on your body. You may be horrified by this information, but don’t worry. Not all microorganisms are bad. In fact, there are plenty that live in harmony with you!
There are some microorganisms that make up our skin microbiome, helping protect us from potentially harmful pathogens. However, these microorganisms transfer to our washcloths when we clean our bodies at the end of the day. Under the right conditions, these can multiply.
According to Alok Vij, M.D., dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Warmth, humidity, and darkness are all areas that allow bacteria, yeast, and mold to grow.” The longer your washcloth lies in a damp area, the more times these microorganisms will grow. This may freak you out, but it doesn’t automatically mean you have to change it everyday.
Is using a dirty washcloth harmful?
There are no negative effects when using the same washcloth for days or weeks. However, there are certain scenarios where you need to change your washcloth regularly. One of these scenarios is when your washcloth contains a harmful pathogen that may harm your body.
For example, the pathogens in your nose such as staph get transferred to another area of your body that’s unfamiliar with staph. You may potentially develop an infection from this. Or if you have athlete’s foot, you may transfer it to another part of your body.
How often should you change your washcloth?
There are no studies addressing this specific question. One reason is that there are many types of microorganisms living in our body, and it’s impossible to eliminate every trace. At the same time, it’s clear that leaving washcloths in a dark, warm, wet environment could increase your chances of spreading bacteria. Thus, it’s best to change washcloths daily and let it dry outside the shower.
If you have a dryer, toss it inside to dry and use it the next time. Alternatively, buy two washcloths so you have a fresh, clean one every day. It really all depends on you.
Washcloths help us get clean and finish our routine. However, when it’s a good idea to wash and clean your washcloth every day. Don’t forget to let your washcloth dry in a dry and sanitary place, as doing so will ensure it’s fresh and ready for you the next day!
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