Why you may want your towels washed

You may want to ignore the sign in your bathroom encouraging you to ‘go green’ and reuse your towels, says a new review published in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research.

In order to reduce water waste and help the environment, in most hotels nowadays, guests are presented with the option to reuse towels or leave them on the floor or in the tub to be washed.

However, new research suggests not washing towels daily might actually do more harm than good, and that there’s no real-world data that proves the “environmental impact of limiting towel, linen, and room cleaning” is positive.

Instead, it might actually be harmful to the planet and public health.

According to the review, delaying washes causes the fabric to become more soiled, requiring repeated washes or stronger chemical cleansers to remove stains.

If that doesn’t work, hotels will simply throw away towels and buy new ones.

Delaying towel washes can also harm hotel employees, says lead researcher Grace Sembajwe, who, when conducting the review “noticed a lot of respiratory reactions to green cleaning systems” – likely a result of using harsh chemicals.

While guests should expect acceptable and healthy conditions, says Ms Sembajwe, hotel rooms may not be the most germ-free environments to leave towels in between using them to dry yourself after washing.

“Choosing to clean your linens at home once a week is very different from a hotel cleaning their linens once a week,” Ms Sembajwe said.

“There are a lot of smaller facilities that do not wash blankets more than once or twice a year.”

To ensure sustainable cleaning, Ms Sembajwe encourages hotels to invest in energy-efficient washing machines, which she says will create a better environmental and economical return in the future.

Do you save your towels from daily washing? Are you likely to change your mind after reading this?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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