Where germs are hiding... in YOUR home!

When was the last time you washed the bathroom towels?

If you don't know the answer right off the top of your head, it's probably time to toss them into the laundry -- because it turns out those soft cotton towels are like a luxury condo for germs.

A stomach-turning new report from New York University finds that common bathroom towels are loaded with dead skin cells, bacteria, funguses, and other sickening microbes.

It's just the nature of the business -- especially for those hand towels, which build up germs fast. And it's made worse by the fact that most people don't wash their hands very thoroughly in the first place.

When they reach for the towel, they're not just drying off. They're rubbing their germs onto the towel.

That's not the only way those bugs can get on there, either. One of them will just plain gross you out: Odds are, your towel has nasty toilet germs.

Unless you put the lid down first, every time you flush, it launches a fine mist containing particles of water and whatever else is in there.

You can't see most of this "toilet plume," but it can travel 15 feet -- so unless you have a giant Trump Tower bathroom where the sink is in another time zone, odds are your towel is collecting some of those particles.

Once on the towel, bacteria and other microbes find all the comforts of home.

It's soft, warm, and damp, which is everything a germ colony needs to thrive.

Don't panic too much over this. Many of the germs around us are "familiar" germs. Sure, they're gross -- but they usually won't hurt us, since they're already around, on, and, in some cases, even inside us.

But if your bathroom has a lot of traffic from multiple people... if you have guests over... or if you have a weaker immune system and are prone to illness and infection... those germs could make you sick.

The research team also points out that some of the skin germs on towels might not make you sick, but could give you pimples and boils.

They recommend replacing the towel after three uses -- which seems like a good rule of thumb, especially for the towel you use after your bath or shower.

Replacing the hand towel after three uses might lead to more laundry than you can handle, but if you swap it every other day, in most cases you should be fine.

And if someone in the house is sick, especially with a "stomach" bug, don't share towels. Ideally, don't even share the same bathroom -- and wash everything more frequently.