When to Replace Every Household Textile

Everything, from your dish towel to your bath mat, has an expiration date.

The last thing you want to hear is that you are not cleaning the items in your home enough, but according to several professionals, most of us aren't refreshing or replacing our most utilized household textiles at the proper rate. Dish towels, bath mats, and body towels are often used far after their expiration date. Fortunately, most of these linens have a long shelf life, says Rochelle Wilkinson, the owner Dirt Detectives Cleaning. "In fact, most bath and kitchen towels get more absorbent the longer you have them, so you will want to keep them around if you clean them properly," she says. As for the one item to wash (and toss, for that matter) most frequently? "That would be a kitchen cloth," Wilkinson notes. "These get wet and hold germs basically the minute you start washing dishes with them." But what about the rest of your linens, including towels, mats, and sheets? Ahead, more cleaning experts elaborate on these items' timelines.

stack of light colored towels on bed
Getty / Ruthsarintre Pattarapongpatch / EyeEm


How often you need to replace your towels will depend on your lifestyle, says Brandi Winch, owner Homemaid Cleaning Service, LLC. If you're a bachelor who rarely uses the guest hand towels in your bathroom, you may get a bit more mileage out of them than, say, a mother of three, who reaches for them more frequently. "The more use they get, the more often you will want to replace them," she says, adding that she's an advocate of practicality. If your towels are used on freshly-cleaned bodies instead of for heavy-duty cleaning tasks, you can get much more life out of them. Ultimately, though, when a towel's threads begin to pull—or you notice a lingering odor, despite a careful wash—it's time to toss it; you can expect body and hand towels to last between two to five years depending on their quality. Wash cloths, on the other hand, should be replaced every one or two years, notes Winch.

Bath and Kitchen Mats

Bath mats should be washed every one to two weeks in addition to being hung up after each use to dry. "They need to be able to handle 25-plus washes a year," notes Winch. "The problem is there are very few options out there that are non-slip, absorbent, hangs easily to dry, and can handle the washing they should ideally get." To extend the life of your mat she suggests keeping shoes out of the kitchen and bathroom, and making sure your bathroom has excellent ventilation and humidity control. Even then, Winch says you should rotate in new bath and kitchen mats annually.

Sheets and Pillowcases

"I recommend washing sheets and pillowcases weekly," advises Trisha Lake, TLC Cleaning Experts, noting that your skin health is often an indication of a subpar cleaning cycle (leave sheets on too long, and it's likely that you'll experience more acne). As for when to replace these bed linens entirely? Fortunately, quality sheets only get better over time; Wilkinson notes that higher-end sheets should have a decade-long lifecycle.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles