7 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Bath Towels

Bath towels typically last two to five years, depending on factors like frequency of use and care. Signs it's time to replace them include reduced absorbency, lingering odors, scratchiness, fading colors, rips or holes, mildew, or if they're over five years old. Proper cleaning, drying, storage, and investing in high-quality towels can extend their lifespan.

Considering you use your bath towels on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that at some point you’ll need to replace them. But how long do bath towels last? Are those luxury cotton towels you got as a wedding gift from your great-aunt still good on your 20th anniversary?

As with many household items, just because it’s still sort of functioning doesn’t mean you should keep using it. But how do you know when it’s really time to replace your bath towels? Read on to find out. (Hint: it’s sooner than you think!)

How long do bath towels last?

The exact lifespan of your bath towels will depend on several factors, but generally, it’s a good idea to replace them every two to five years. You might have to do it more or less often depending on how many towels you have in rotation, if you exercise frequently, and so on.

When to replace your bath towels

So, how do you know exactly when to replace your bath towels? Here are seven signs to look out for:

They’re not as absorbent anymore

Towels become less absorbent with time. If your towel is dripping wet after you use it, it’s probably too old and doesn’t serve its main purpose anymore.

They have an odor even after washing

If your towels are smelly even after you wash them, then it’s time for them to go. Maybe the bathroom has been poorly ventilated, or maybe the towels are just so old they absorb germs more easily than moisture. Whatever the case may be, if they have a lingering smell even after a wash, then you should replace them.

They’re scratchy

Towels may become scratchy over time because they’ve been washed with too much detergent, line-dried instead of tumbled-dried, or simply because they’re past their prime. In any case, it’s probably time to toss them and treat yourself to new luxurious fluffy towels.

The color is fading

Towels aren’t just functional, they’re also personal items that allow us to express our unique tastes and add to the bathroom decor. If your carefully chosen mustard yellow towel has faded into overcooked egg-yolk grayish-yellow, then it’s time to get a new one.

There are rips or holes

Obviously, if your towel has any rips or holes, then it’s probably too old to use. It’s not just a cosmetic problem as rips usually mean that the material is too old to be absorbent.

There are signs of mildew

If there are mildew spots on your towel, then you should throw them out immediately. If this problem comes back with newer towels sooner than you were hoping, then there might be a ventilation problem with your bathroom. Mildew is caused by excessive moisture, so opening the window, turning on the fan to let the air in, or leaving the door open might remedy the problem.

They’re over five years old

Even if everything is fine, you may want to still consider replacing your towels after five years of use at most. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much the long-forgotten feeling of being wrapped in luxurious fluffy cotton can contribute to your well-being.

If you feel bad about simply throwing out old towels, then you can repurpose them as cleaning rags or pet towels (an essential item if your furry friend sleeps with you.)

How to make your bath towels last longer

Although nothing lasts forever, with proper maintenance you can make your bath towels last longer.

Proper cleaning

Wash your towels every three or four days—or more often if you exercise frequently. Wash them in warm or cold water, separately from other clothes as zippers and hardware from clothing might damage the fibers.

Separate them by color and don’t use fabric softener (use vinegar instead) as fabric softener will make them less absorbent over time. Separate towels by colors when washing to avoid discoloration.

Proper drying and storage

Tumble dry your towels on low heat and fold them as soon as they’re dry. Don’t use dryer sheets as these too can reduce the absorbency of your towels. Although you can line-dry your towels, it’s not recommended since this can make them stiff and scratchy.

Regular rotation of towels

Have several towels on rotation to increase the lifespan of each of them.

Invest in high-quality bath towels

Investing in high-quality towels goes a long way toward ensuring they last longer. Towels made of 100% organic long-staple cotton aren’t only more absorbent but also more durable as the longer cotton fibers make a stronger, softer, and more durable fabric.

Upgrade your bathroom with high-quality towels from Saatva

Waffle Towel Collection

Enjoy spa-worthy softness after every bath or shower with our light & breathable waffle towels. Exclusively woven in durable long-staple cotton that gets softer with every wash.

Plush Towel Collection

When only the finest towel will do, these impossibly plush and soft towels are the final touch to a spa-like bath experience. Exclusively woven in durable long-staple cotton that gets softer with every wash.


What’s the average lifespan of a bath towel?

Bath towels should be replaced every two to five years, depending on how frequently you use them and the quality of the material.

How do I know when to replace my bath towels?

If your towels have lost their absorbency, or if they’re faded, ripped, or smelly even after a wash, then it’s time to replace them. Even if none of these apply, you should consider replacing your towels every five years at most.

Find the perfect bath towels for you at Saatva

When you’re ready to treat yourself to a new set of luxury bath towels, check out Saatva’s collection of high-quality

plush towels
saatva plush towel collection
Plush Towel Collection

Our reinvented take on the classic luxury hotel bath towel


waffle towels.
saatva waffle towel collection
Waffle Towel Collection

Our light & airy towel inspired by the world’s finest spas

All of our towels are OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified and made of long-staple cotton, so they’re guaranteed to upgrade your bathroom experience.

A nighttime bath has long been known to improve your sleep, so why not elevate both bathtime and sleep quality with the best towels you can find? A nighttime bath has long been known to improve your sleep, so why not elevate both bathtime and sleep quality with the best towels you can find?

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