New research suggests our kitchen towels hold on to a lot of gross stuff.
A study presented at the annual meeting for the American Society for Microbiology, which concludes Monday, found the towels could carry pathogens potentially leading to food poisoning.
Multiple factors contribute to an increase in bacteria found on towels, including family size and the type of food consumed.
Researchers collected 100 towels after one month of use. Results showed 49 percent of them had bacterial growth. Those numbers increased when other factors were considered, including using towels for multiple purposes.
Research showed the risk of towels contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli was higher on humid towels, multi-purpose towels, and in families with non-vegetarian diets.
“The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen,” said lead author Dr. Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, a senior lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Mauritius, in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends these steps to avoid catching food poisoning through your kitchen towel:
Wash your hands. USDA suggest washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, whether it’s before you cook or after handling raw meat and its packaging.
Use paper towels once. The more you use a paper towel, the higher the odds germs spread. Use it, then toss it immediately.
For cloth towels, wash them often. USDA said washing dish towels on the hot cycle of your washing machine will remove bacteria. Also, keep multiple dish towels handy to avoid too much reuse.