Q: How often do you have to wash your beach towel?
Oz Says: It's OK to be pretty casual about it — flipping your towel over a porch railing at the end of one day and grabbing it the next — as long as you make these other moves, too:
Hang it in the sun: "The sun's ultraviolet light kills 90 percent of germs," explains Kelly A. Reynolds, PhD, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. So if you use the old drape-it-on-the-porch trick up to three days in a row, the bacteria will remain at levels low enough to reduce your chance of getting sick from them, she says. (Yes, bacteria will be there, since seagulls and other birds use the sand — or the pool deck — as their toilet.)
Or dry it out another way: Tossing it in the dryer has a similar germ-killing effect. Leaving it in a crumbled heap on the bathroom floor? Dampness is an engraved invitation for bacteria and fungi to grow, which can potentially lead to skin infections, says Reynolds.
And be ready to actually do some laundry (yes, even if you're on vacation): If the towel is visibly soiled (as in, splotched with seaweed or salsa), you can't depend on the sun to clean it for you. Cue up the washer before you use the towel again.
This story originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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