‘Towels are the most germ-infested objects in your home’

12th of December 2014
‘Towels are the most germ-infested objects in your home’

Kitchen and bathroom cloths and towels could be among the most germ-ridden items in your home, experts have warned.

This is due to the fact that towels retain moisture for long periods of time - allowing the bacteria to survive - and because of where they are used.

A recent study by the University of Arizona found coliform bacteria in 89 per cent of kitchen tea towels and E. coli in 25.6 per cent of towels. Coliform bacteria are present in faeces and can lead to food poisoning and diarrhoea.

Study author Charles Gerba said: "When you wipe your hands on a towel you may contaminate other foods or bring your hands to your mouth and infect yourself. And with face and bath towels, you may spread bacteria and viruses among family members who use the same towels."

Coliforms, E. coli and Salmonella may all regrow on a kitchen cleaning cloth once it becomes soiled again, say researchers. They claim that soaking cloths in bleach for two minutes is a more effective method of reducing bacteria than washing them. Studies have shown that bacteria can survive even after washing with a detergent.

According to head of biological and biomedical sciences at Aston University Anthony Hilton: "There's a tendency towards using lower temperatures to wash fabrics, down to 30 degrees. But if a child is unwell and vomits on a fabric, it would need to be washed at a higher temperature.

"Many organisms thrive at body temperature so washing at 30 degrees is not going to kill them. But there are laundry additives designed to kill bacteria at low temperatures."

Experts advise that bath towels should be washed at around 90ºC at least once a week, or at lower temperatures using an antibacterial laundry product.



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