When it comes to hygiene, hand towels in the bathroom and the kitchen may be the hardest working members of the household. They’re used to dry off your hands, to look good where they hang, and to occasionally wipe up spills or wipe out the sink (which is actually not a good idea). They can also transmit germs if you’re not careful.

Most people use standard cotton towels for everyday use, while Egyptian cotton is considered the highest quality. The more expensive towels have longer, more-fibrous threads – and more moisture-sucking power.

Towels will look fresher and last longer with proper care, so here’s how to keep the hand towels in your home at their finest:

  • Wash new hand towels before you use them the first time. Manufacturers sometimes coat new towels in a special fabric softener to make them extra fluffy and soft in the store. But they actually won’t absorb water that well. Adding one or two cups of white vinegar to the wash cycle will help set the colours.
  • Have a system in the kitchen to identify hand towels versus dish towels. To stop the spread of germs, the hand towel should not be used to dry clean dishes and vice versa; for example use pink towels to dry your hands and blue towels to dry the dishes. Change the kitchen hand towels frequently.
  • Keep an eye on the state of your hand towels in the bathroom. There’s no doubt that they’re used by every single person who stops by! Towels should be changed every few days, especially if you have a large family, or if it’s a busy bathroom.
  • When company visits, put out fresh guest towels, then change them once your guests leave.
  • Launder towels in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. Adding one cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle will help them smell fresh, then tumble dry quickly in the dryer. Don’t overheat towels, as fibres can be damaged; use a lower-heat setting or alternate between air and heat settings.