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Your towels should be replaced more often than you think — here's why

The ones in your kitchen and bathroom can get pretty gross.
Mom in the bathroom wrapping her child in an oversized white towel after their bath
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When was the last time you washed your towels?

If it's been so long that you can't even remember, you may want to stop what you're doing in throw them in the machine right now. Even if it's only been a little over a week since the last wash, it's probably time to do laundry again.

According to experts, the hand, bath and kitchen towels in your home can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Which, according to Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of "The Germ Files" can not only cause some not-so-pleasant smells, but can also potentially lead to skin irritation and even infection.

To prevent this, you should be washing your bath towels once a week, Tetro said. Though hand towels, which are used more often and not always on completely clean hands, should be swapped out every one to two days.

If you're following this frequent washing schedule, they'll probably start to break down after a while. While there's no hard and fast rule to follow about how often you should be replacing your towels, you'll want to toss them when they start to lose their absorbency — which is typically about two years in. Also if you have a smelly towel that still has an odor after being washed, then it may be time to replace it, added Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Your kitchen towels are even worse germ offenders since they're used for so many different things. One study found that 90 percent of kitchen towels are covered in bacteria, which is why, Tetro said, you should be washing them at least twice a week.

With all that said, you may realize that you are way overdue for a replacement, or you at least need to add some new ones to your rotation for moments when all your others are in the laundry basket. Below, we rounded up 12 options for your kitchen and bathroom, including some that are specially designed to keep germs at bay.

Best bath towels

Hammam Linen 4-Piece Set Bath Towels

This bestselling set comes with four towels, so you'll always have one to swap in when you're behind on the wash. The extra-large soft cotton towels will make you feel like you're wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket every time you get out of the shower.

Parachute Classic Bath Towel

Not only are Parachute's bath towels incredibly soft, but they're quick-drying, too, thanks to the Aerocotton Technology which allows air to pass through the fibers more quickly. They come in six colors, and you can grab a single towel for $29 or an entire set, complete with two bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for $114.

Pinzon Organic Cotton Bath Towel, Set of 4

Choose between colors like blush, navy, marble grey or classic white for this four-pack towel set. It has an impressive average 4.7-star rating from more than 7,000 ratings, and many reviewers say they love how soft and absorbent the towels are.

Nutrl Home Classic Bath Towel

These towels use polygeine technology to help keep odor and bacteria at bay. The waffle-textured towel is lightweight and breathable, so it's a great option. But if you're not totally satisfied with your purchase, the company offers a 100-day risk-free guarantee, so you can get a full refund.

Best hand and face towels

Amazon Basics Fast Drying, Extra Absorbent, Terry Cotton Washcloths

According to one TODAY writer, not only are these towels thick and soft, but they'll make your bathroom feel like a spa. For just $17.99 you'll get a 24-pack of towels, so you'll never be without one.

Tushy Bamboo Bum Towels

OK, hear us out: while these towels from TUSHY are technically made to be used on your behind, we think they'd make pretty good washcloths, too. They're soft, absorbent and come in packs of five. According to King, cloths made from bamboo are less likely to harbor yeast and bacteria. Plus, they're gentle on your skin.

Company Cotton Bamboo Cotton Blend Bath Towel

Made from a blend of quick-drying bamboo material and soft cotton, these towels give you the best of both worlds. You can choose between seven color options and grab the hand towel or washcloth sizes, or both.

Qute Home 4-Piece Hand Towels Set

According to the brand, the plush cotton in these hand towels only gets softer with every wash. They're absorbent and quick-drying, so they're built to last. To maximize absorbency, the company recommends that you soak them in cold water for 12 hours before your first use and hang to dry. After that, you can throw them in the washing machine as you normally would.

Best kitchen towels

Utopia Towels Kitchen Towels

This 12-pack of towels is currently a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, with more than 12,000 five-star ratings. It comes with six solid and six gingham towels. And you can choose between a variety of color options to match the aesthetic of your kitchen.

Homaxy 100% Cotton Waffle Weave Kitchen Dish Cloths

The honeycomb weave of these kitchen towels makes them super lightweight and absorbent. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of virology at the University of Arizona, you should never hang your kitchen towels on the handle of your refrigerator, because they can contaminate the handle. Instead, you should have a separate hanger to store them. Thankfully, these have a handy hanging hook that makes that much easier to do.

Williams Sonoma All Purpose Pantry Towels, Set of 4

With terry cloth on one side and a waffle texture on the other, these all-purpose pantry towels really can do anything. They're made from absorbent Turkish cotton and come in nine color options.

Bondre 100% Bamboo Kitchen Dish Cloths

Made with bamboo, these towels will make a great addition to your kitchen. You can grab a six or 12-pack and use them to clean dishes, wipe surfaces and more.

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