4 Signs That It's Time to Replace Your Towels With New Ones, Say Experts

Find out if it's time to retire your old towels and treat yourself to some fresh new ones

towels hanging up in a blue tiled bathroom
(Image credit: Studio Shamshiri, courtesy of 1st Dibs)

With the days getting longer, a refreshing shower takes on increasing importance in our daily schedules and is often the best way to unwind. Whether you're a shower taker or a bath soaker, there's one thing we can all agree on, and that's the fact that a clean fluffy towel is a must.

No matter how much care you treat your towels with, sooner or later they will age. But unless it's on its last thread, how can you tell if you're in need of a new set? Well, we spoke to the experts and they've pointed out some tell-tale signs that signify a need to switch out your old towels for a fresh bunch.

Despite being one of our favorite functional bathroom accessories, towels are often overlooked, so if you've had yours for a while now and are wondering if it's time to part ways with them, look out for the following indicators. And if you find yourself agreeing with even one of the signs, it might be time to indulge in a touch of retail therapy and fetch yourself some brand-new towels.

1. Loss in texture

gold fixtures in white bathroom

(Image credit: Julien Pepy Photography, Marie Ingrid, founder of MIID.)

Will Cotter, CEO of Happy Cleans, tells us that one of the most common signs that you need to throw in the towel. 'When towels start feeling all slimy instead of fluffy, it's the worst,' says Will. 'It's usually because of a build-up of gunk from using too much fabric softener and detergent. And then there’s hard water deposit too.'

He explains that if you notice your towels getting smaller and less comfortable, it might be time to invest in some new ones. Although they might still do the job when it comes to drying you off, rough shrinking towels just aren't it. Instead of prolonging your calm state of mind post-shower, worn-out towels can snap you right out of that mood and take away from the vibe of your spa bathroom.

2. Bad Odour

free standing towel rail

(Image credit: Target)

Towels that carry bad odors have to be one of our top bathroom red flags and we're not alone in our distaste. Alessandro Gazzo, cleaning expert at Emily's Maids, tells us that malodorous towels are a common problem in some households. 'The biggest sign that you need new towels is if you find that they smell even after a fresh wash,' he notes.

Will tells us that this can especially be a problem for homeowners with small bathrooms, explaining that towels are usually dense and require plenty of air to dry properly. 'If your towels are not drying properly, bacteria and even mold can start growing on them,' says Will. Not only does this ruin the ambiance of a clean bathroom but it's also highly unhygienic. As soon as you pick up on any sort of undesirable scents attached to your towels, Will recommends giving them the heave-ho.

3. Discoloration

Zellige tiling used in a spa-like bathroom

(Image credit: Jenn Verrier. Design: Lorla Studio)

We put so much effort into creating the perfect modern bathroom but sometimes the details can give way and ruin the visual appeal of a space. Discolored towels are one such element that can completely throw off the design of the bathroom. 'Discoloration is common in the long run,' says Alessandro. 'While it doesn’t necessarily impact the usability, it doesn’t look nice and gives the impression that the towel is dirty.'

As Alessandro mentioned, discoloration is inevitable and even the prettiest bath towels lose their vibrant hues upon regular use. But instead of continuing to use them for their intended purpose, we suggest repurposing them as cleaning cloths around the home. Alessandro calls for homeowners to pay extra attention to discolored towels hanging in guest bathrooms for this could send the message of low hygiene, even if the towel is actually clean.

4. Damaged Fabric

pink herringbone tiles in bathroom by Original Style

(Image credit: Original Style)

An elegant bathroom that has been painstakingly put together can lose its allure all because of a damaged towel disrupting the aesthetic. The details of any room matter and especially when it comes to bathrooms, we like to make sure that the space looks as pristine as possible. Damage in the form of loose threads and holes can be considered the most obvious signs that your towels need swapping. 'If you notice any holes in your bath towels, then I’d say it’s time to relegate your towel to a mop or a dog towel,' says Alessandro.

When you look at bathrooms that inspire, you'll find that fresh towels are a common detail across each space. They shouldn't be overlooked as they can make all the difference to the bathroom and to your personal routine as well. It's the little luxuries that matter and we consider plush clean towels to be high on our list of home indulgences. So it's worth venturing into your primary and guest bathrooms to see if you can check any of the aforementioned signs off - and if you do, we've found some fabulous towels that'll spruce up your bathroom in no time.

Our top buys for fresh towels


What's the best practice when washing towels?

According to Alessandro, commercial fabric softeners and towels are not compatible. 'They create a waxy coat that reduces their absorbency, especially over time,' he says. Instead, he suggests adding a cup of distilled white vinegar (available from Walmart) while washing your towels as it absorbs odors and doesn’t leave a waxy coat on your fabrics. Alessandro also recommends washing your towels using a higher temperature and adding them in a load that's separate from your clothes.

How to properly dry your towels?

When it comes to caring for your towels, Alessandro mentions that keeping them dry is the key to making sure that they're fresh for longer. 'If you live in humid areas or have bathrooms that don't feature large windows, sunning your towels is your only solution,' he says. Hanging your towels in the sun is Alessandro's top tip to make sure your towel dries thoroughly and he suggests leaving them out for 30 minutes to an hour a day.

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.