Is It Okay to Wash Towels With Clothes? Find the Answer

When you do your laundry, you might be wondering if it’s fine to wash towels with your regular clothes or if it’s better to wash them separately. There are advantages and disadvantages to washing them together, and some recommended methods to follow.

This guide will provide all the information you need to know about washing towels with clothes.

Benefits of Washing Towels with Clothes

Washing towels and clothes in the same load can offer several advantages:

  • Saves time – You can finish your laundry more quickly by washing towels and clothes in the same load instead of separately.
  • Uses less water – Running one full load instead of two smaller loads consumes less water. This can help reduce your utility bills.
  • More efficient detergent use – With a full load, you can use detergent more efficiently instead of overusing it on small loads.
  • Convenient – It’s easier to wash everything in at once rather than having to come back for a second wash cycle.

Overall, combining laundry helps save time and water, making the process more efficient.

Potential Downsides of Washing Towels with Clothes

However, there are also some potential risks of washing towels with clothes:

1. Color Bleeding and Transfer

When you wash towels with clothes of different colors, there’s a common problem called color mixing. Dark towels might release color onto lighter clothes, creating an unintentional dye effect. To avoid this, it’s important to sort your laundry by color.

white shirt with a pink stain on it

2. Lint Transfer

Towels, especially new ones, may release lint that can stick to clothes, affecting their appearance. Regularly cleaning lint traps and keeping lint-prone items separate can reduce this issue.

3. Impact on Fabric Texture

Towels are meant to be absorbent and fluffy, while some clothes have delicate textures. Washing them together may impact the overall feel of the fabric. Consider washing delicate clothes separately to maintain their original texture.

Tips for Washing Towels and Clothes Together

If you do choose to wash towels and clothes together, follow these tips to prevent issues:

  • Wash dark-colored towels separately from light-colored clothes to prevent dye transfer.
  • Use a gentle cycle when washing a mixed load of towels and clothes together.
  • Clean the lint trap before and after washing loads with towels to catch excess lint.
  • Dry similar fabric types together on the same heat setting rather than mixing towels and clothes.

Should You Wash Hand Towels With Clothes?

It depends on the type of hand towels and how you’ve used them. If your hand towels are relatively clean and have been used for hands, faces, or light cleaning, it’s usually fine to wash them with your regular laundry.

However, if the towels have been used for drying dishes, surfaces, or in bathrooms, there’s a higher chance of transferring bacteria and stains when you wash them with clothes. So it’s better to wash them separately.

Should You Wash Gym Towels with Clothes?

Washing sweaty, smelly gym towels with regular clothes brings some added risks:

  • Gym towels may transfer a sweaty odor to clothes. And the odor can stick around even after washing.
  • The germs on dirty gym towels could spread to your clothes.
  • It might be harder to get rid of lint and fibers from gym towels on your clothes compared to bath towels.

For these reasons, it’s best to wash gym towels separately from clothes whenever possible.

Should You Wash Bath Towels with Clothes?

Used bathroom towels contain germs that you don’t want transferring to your nice clothes in the wash. Here are the main risks:

  • Towels used after bathing might carry bacteria and germs that can transfer onto your clothes.
  • Medications on the skin can rub off on bathroom towels and then transfer to clothes.
  • Darker towels can release color during washing, potentially staining lighter clothes if washed together.

For these reasons, washing bathroom towels and clothes together is not an ideal practice. It’s better to keep them separate whenever possible.

The Best Practices for Washing Towels and Clothes

If you decide to mix towels and clothes in the laundry, here are some simple guidelines to follow:

1. Sorting Laundry

Separating your laundry is important. Make different piles for white, light-colored, and dark clothes. Also, sort them based on the type of fabric and how dirty they are. This ensures that each item gets the care it needs.

person sorting dirty laundry into different piles

2. Temperature Settings

Different fabrics need different water temperatures. Hot water is good for whites and really dirty items, while cold water is gentler on colors and delicate fabrics. Choose the temperature that matches your laundry.

3. Proper Detergent Usage

Selecting the right detergent is crucial. High-efficiency (HE) detergents work well with modern washing machines, requiring less water for effective cleaning. Always use the recommended amount of detergent for the best results.

Following these tips will help reduce the risks of washing towels with clothes.

When to Wash Towels Separately from Clothes

It’s usually okay to wash towels and clothes together, but there are times when it’s better to wash them separately:

  • New Towels: During the first few washes, new towels may release excess lint. Washing them separately prevents lint transfer to clothes.
  • Highly Saturated Colors: If you have towels in vibrant colors like red or blue, it’s a good idea to wash them separately at first to prevent the colors from bleeding onto other clothes.
  • Highly Soiled Items: If clothes are heavily soiled or stained, washing them separately can prevent cross-contamination.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Overloading the Machine: Overstuffing the washing machine can lead to inadequate cleaning and increased friction, contributing to color bleeding and fabric damage.
  • Ignoring Care Labels: If you don’t pay attention to care labels on your clothes, it can lead to unexpected problems. Always follow the suggested washing and drying instructions to keep your fabrics in good condition.
  • Using Too Much Detergent: Excessive detergent may not rinse out completely, leading to residue on fabrics. Use the recommended amount to avoid potential issues.
  • Neglecting Color Sorting: Avoid the mistake of washing all colors together. Separate light, dark, and vibrant colors to prevent color bleeding accidents.


In summary, washing towels with clothes can save you time and resources by using less water and detergent. However, it’s essential to consider possible problems like color bleeding, lint spreading, and changes in fabric feel. To avoid these issues, follow some simple tips like sorting laundry, using the right water temperature, and using detergent correctly.

With these tips, you can safely wash towels and clothes in the same load to save time and water without worrying about issues.


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