Ken Hoffman soaks up the deluge of controversy surrounding how often to change bath towels
Former ESPN anchor turned author Jamele Hill caused a stir on Twitter when she revealed — omigosh – "I change my bath towel every 3-4 days. I feel that's about right. Am I wrong for this? Changing your towel every day feels excessive to me."
Is nothing personal anymore? Thousands replied with their bath towel routines and schedules. Some said they use the same towel more days, some said fewer, many thought Hill had it about right, and as always, some went Howard Hughes weird — using paper towels to dry certain, let's say "enclosed" body parts. In that case, I would recommend Bounty, the quicker picker upper. That’s the last place you want your paper towel to shred and fall apart.
So I change my towel every 3-4 days. I feel like that’s about right. Am I wrong for this? Changing your towels every day feels excessive to me.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 22, 2023
One person said, “I change my bath towel at the same time I change my tires, when there’s a hole in them.”
The debate hit 11 when ESPN football analyst Dan Orlovsky dropped this pearl of personal hygiene: “How many times do you use a bath towel post-shower till you throw it in the laundry? I’m 30 times or so till it goes in.”
After 30 showers a bath towel can throw itself in the laundry. Orlovsky once played quarterback for the Houston Texans, so his thinking may be rattled.
How many times do you use a towel post shower till you throw it in laundry? I’m 30 times or so till it goes in
And no I agree but that air better be HOT
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) March 15, 2023
Online sports pages lit up with posts titled, “Dan Orlovsky reveals bizarre hygiene take that has people cringing.” And “Dan Orlovsky has disgusting bath towel routine.” And “Dan Orlovsky is absolutely disgusting.”
Last week Charles Barkley dropped this shower-related bon mot during March Madness coverage. He said, when he played in the NBA, teams had so little time to get to the airport after games that players often showered in their uniforms.
While that makes no sense and I don’t believe it, here’s an even odder story about one NBA player, an all-time legend, and his post-game routine:
Wilt Chamberlain began his NBA career in 1959 playing with the Philadelphia Warriors. To show you how long ago that was, Chamberlain, as a rookie, was the NBA’s highest-paid player. He made $30,000 that year.
According to Wilt lore — and I believe it this time — Chamberlain, although he played in Philadelphia, lived in New York City. He had a plush apartment in Harlem. He commuted to Philadelphia by train every day.
Trouble was, the last train from Philadelphia to New York left at 10 pm, so Chamberlain had to rush from the arena to the station after games to catch that train. He didn’t have time to take a shower and change clothes, so still in his sweaty uniform, he threw on a trench coat and rode the train home to New York.
While Chamberlain was known to exaggerate details about his life, especially his exploits with women, I’m buying that he wore his uniform on mass transit after NBA games.
My bath towel schedule sometimes aligns with Hill’s three-to-four day limit. Sometimes I go shorter, sometimes longer.
I have my own bathroom. And the laundry room is in my bathroom. That gives me the ease and luxury of using the washing machine as my hamper.
When it gets full, I hit “quick wash” and start. I don’t separate towels and regular clothes because you’re not supposed to use bleach on towels, even white ones. Did you know that? It’s because cotton isn’t naturally white and bleach will harm and wear down the fibers.
Also, don’t use too much soap when you’re washing towels and never use fabric softener. That will make your towels less absorbent over time. Take that, Hints from Heloise. (Editor's note: Don't tempt us to e-mail her, Ken.)
When you don’t share a bathroom, you don’t run the risk of sharing a bath towel, which would have me taking a bath in Purel.
To me, bath towels are like T-shirts. I have a hundred T-shirts, but I generally wear only five to 10 of them — I have my favorites. My go-to is a gray T-shirt with a Henley collar. It’s exactly like the T-shirt that Paul McCartney wears in the Beatles video for Revolution.
My bathroom closet has about five stacks of bath towels. I use one — a thick, thirsty, fluffy purple beach towel that is rivaled only by a mother’s womb for serenity. (Editor's note 2: Ummm...)
After each use, I hang it over the shower rod, fully extended to enhance drying time. Hanging a towel on a hook is dumb. It crumples together and doesn’t allow maximum surface area to dry. Plus, living in Houston typically means you have relatively high humidity in your house, which increases drying time. Drying yourself with a damp towel is a yuck.
Hanging your bath towel over the shower rod also makes it convenient to wipe the stray toothpaste off your face just before you leave the bathroom to go to work.
So what’s the best, recommended routine for swapping out your bath towel? The New York Times polled several health experts on the subject. Most said Jamele Hill was on target: after three showers is a good schedule.
You listening, Dan Orlovsky?