Bath mats and towels may be made of similar materials and have similar washing instructions, so it could be tempting to throw them in the washing machine together.
However, is this hygienic? Is it a good idea to wash them together, or will this simply transfer bacteria from bath mats onto your towels?
Let’s find out.
Will Washing Bath Mats with Towels Cause Bacteria to Spread?
Bath mats can easily harbour bacteria due to their location and exposure to moisture.
When we step out of the shower or bath, the mat absorbs water and remains damp for long periods of time. This moisture provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Bath mats often come into contact with various substances, such as soap residue, skin cells, and dirt from our feet. They may also be positioned next to the toilet, and pick up related splashes.
The organic materials in bath mats serve as food sources for bacteria, further promoting their growth.
The combination of moisture, warmth, and nutrients creates a breeding ground for bacteria, making bath mats susceptible to bacterial colonisation and potential health risks.
If you wash bath mats with towels at low temperatures, the bacteria will survive. If you want to wash them together, you should choose a washing machine setting of 60 degrees Celsius or above to kill bacteria and prevent their spread.
You could also choose a laundry detergent with antibacterial properties or one specifically formulated to eliminate bacteria.
If you want to be certain that bacteria will be killed, use a laundry sanitiser product.
These products are designed to kill bacteria and inhibit their growth during the washing process.
As long as you use hot water and/or a laundry sanitiser, it should be fine to wash bath mats and towels together. However, look at the care labels first, since not all bath mats and towels can be washed at high temperatures without damaging them.
How to Decide Whether to Wash Bath Mats with Towels
Before tossing your bath mats and towels into the washing machine together, there are a few things to consider.
Different bath mats and towels are made from various materials, each requiring specific care instructions.
However, they share many of the same materials, making it easier to wash them together.
Common materials used in bath mats and towels include cotton, microfibre, and synthetic blends.
Check the care labels or manufacturer’s instructions for both items to determine the recommended washing methods and temperatures.
Colours and colourfastness
If your towels and bath mats are the same colour, this won’t be an issue. However, if they are different colours, there’s a risk that the colours could transfer and bleed between bath mats and towels.
You can perform a quick colourfastness test by dampening a small, inconspicuous area of both the bath mat and towel, and blotting with a white cloth.
If there isn’t any colour transfer, it should be safe to wash them together. However, if there is any bleeding, it’s better to wash them separately.
Before washing bath mats and towels together, consider the types of stains present on each item.
Treat any visible stains with appropriate stain removers or pre-treatment methods before washing them together.
A Few Things to Note
Here are some things to consider before washing bath mats and towels together.
Non-slip backing on bath mats
If your bath mat has a non-slip backing, take extra care during washing to avoid damaging it. The care label should provide you with instructions on how to wash it.
Harsh laundry detergents and bleach could damage the non-slip properties. Usually, these bath mats should be washed on a gentle cycle with a mild delicate-friendly laundry detergent.
If your bath mats have non-slip backings, it might be better to wash them separately to towels as they probably can’t be safely washed at high temperatures.
Size and weight of bath mats and towels
Towels and bath mats are both quite bulky, heavy items. Make sure you don’t overload your washing machine.
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