Should you wash your regular clothes with towels and sheets?
The short answer: Definitely not.
But what’s the harm in it? They’re all dirty items that need to be laundered, right? So what’s the big deal about it?
3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Wash Clothes with Towels & Sheets
→ Towels are notorious lint-producers
If you wash a load of fairly new towels, you’ll notice that there is an enormous amount of lint in the dryer screen. Towels are natural lint producers (love that cotton!).
While the dryer screen acquires much of the lint, it still gets all over clothes. And some fabrics attract that lint like a magnet. And that lint?
It’s a pain to remove.
Don’t trust me? Try washing a black pair of pants with an all-cotton white towel. I can promise you’ll have a tough time trying to get the lint off with a lint brush.
→ Clothes get trapped inside sheets
Due to their size and design, sheets tend to ball up in the washer and dryer. When spinning in the washer, sheets trap other smaller items inside of them.
When those clothes are trapped, they don’t have the opportunity to rub against other clothes. This agitation is partly what gets the laundry clean in the first place.
Likewise, if clothes are balled up inside a sheet in the dryer they’ll come out wet.
Even if you have a damp-sensor in your dryer they’ll still come out wet, since the sensor perceives the outside of the sheet to be dry.
→ Towels and sheets need to be washed on a hot, long wash cycle
Regular clothes don’t typically need to be washed on hot, nor on a long wash cycle. With just normal wear, clothes can be washed on a ‘regular’ setting and don’t need the heavy-duty wash. If you do wash them on a hot/long cycle consistently, they’ll look old quickly.
Need more information? Read Laundry Basics: How to Choose the Washing Cycle
Towels and sheets always need to be washed on hot and on a long wash cycle. You’ve slept on those sheets for about a week and now your skin cells and sweat are all over them. You’ve used those towels a couple of times (at least) and your skin cells are all over those too. And possibly mold and mildew if you didn’t hang them up well..
Towels and sheets are made from sturdy cottons and can take the trauma of always washing them so hard. To get really clean, they need to be washed on this setting every time.
→ Washing underwear and towels together is just wrong.
Think about it: ladies (usually) have nice, lacy underwear. That is expensive.
Do you really want to put that in the same load as the nasty towel you used to wipe up the spilled milk? Or the bath towel your son used for 9 nights in row?
You don’t. Trust me.
Some machines have a dirty water sensor. The sensors determine how dirty the water is and can adjust the wash cycle for longer if it thinks the load is really gross. So assume your underwear just needs the normal washing as it usually would and you’ve put it in the washer with those gross towels listed above. Your washer is going to sense how nasty the towels are and run a longer wash cycle.
What does this mean for your underwear?
It is going to look old and soon.
Anytime clothes are washed (agitated) for a long time, they start to look old before their time. It can also cause the elastic to break down sooner. For something delicate like underwear, it can even cause the seaming to come apart since lace and those type fabrics are typically not as sturdy as a heavy cotton. For long lasting underwear, treat them gently.
Exceptions to the ‘Wash Towels & Sheets Alone’ Rule
If you are in college, you are allowed to wash your towels, sheets, and clothes altogether. Money for washing clothes is hard to come by while in college, so just be as efficient with your washing machine money as you can be. Most of you only use one towel or so a week, right?
If you are washing a load of sick laundry, you are excused from the rule.
You know the kind: your child has vomited half the night and you’d like to put towels, sheets, mattress pads and pajamas in the washer at one time. Just do it. Make sure to use bleach and put on the ‘Sanitize’ cycle if you have one. And then sanitize your washer. Bleh.
So I must know. Do you wash your towels/sheets with your regular dirty laundry? Don’t worry – I’m not passing judgment! Just curious what my readers typically do.