Why reusing kitchen towels poses a health risk 2023

Why reusing kitchen towels poses a health risk 2023

Using the same cloth for different tasks increases the risk of the appearance of E.coli bacteria, according to scientists.

According to research, using dish towels for multiple tasks may put your household at risk of food poisoning.

Scientists from the University of Mauritius examined 100 kitchen towels that had been used for a month.

They found that E. coli bacteria were more likely to be found on cloths used for different functions, such as cleaning utensils and surfaces and drying our hands.

They also concluded that this bacterium was more likely to be found in wet towels or homes where meat is eaten.

The ‘multi-use’ nature of these clothes increases the chances of cross-contamination from potential pathogens that can spread bacteria and cause food poisoning.

Why reusing kitchen towels poses a health risk 2023

Therefore, washing or changing kitchen rags, gloves, clothes, and sponges regularly is advisable, and letting them dry well before using them again.

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The scientists studied the bacteria found on the cloths to identify them and determine their bacterial load.

Of the rags tested, 49% had bacterial growth that increased in homes with large families with children.

E.coli bacteria are more likely to show up on clothes used in homes with children or large families, the study says.

Of the 49 samples that were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7% cultured coliform bacteria, a group that includes E. coli.

Of the rest, 36.7% were ‘Enterococcus spp,’ and 14.3% were staphylococcus aureus.

In addition, coliform bacteria and staphylococci were found in “significantly higher prevalence” on cloth from homes where meat was eaten.

E. coli is a type of bacteria common in the intestines of humans and animals. Most are harmless, but some can cause severe food poisoning and infections.

How to prevent the spread of germs in the kitchen

  • Change kitchen towels regularly.
  • Some experts recommend replacing dish towels daily or on days when you’ve been cooking.
  • Using disposable cloths or paper towels will stop the spread of germs.
  • Reusable materials must be disinfected or washed at 60°C after each use.
  • Wash the brushes in the dishwasher frequently, or wash them with detergent and warm water after each use.
  • Make sure surfaces used to prepare food are clean before use.
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw foods and those that do not need to be cooked.
  • Wash and dry your hands after handling foods such as raw meat.
  • Clean surfaces immediately after use.

The researchers said the presence of E. coli points to possible fecal contamination and poor hygiene practices.

“The data indicated that unhygienic practices when handling non-vegetarian foods might be common in the kitchen,” said lead author Dr. Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

“The use of damp cloths and the multipurpose use of kitchen towels should be discouraged. Large families with children and the elderly should be especially attentive to hygiene in the kitchen,” he said.

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They also concluded that staphylococci were more likely found in cloth from families with children and lower socioeconomic status.

Staph can cause food poisoning, as the bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature to produce a disease-causing toxin. It is eliminated with cooking and pasteurization of food.

Why are cut-up paper towels more hygienic?

The cut paper towels are presented in individual services that avoid contact with the rest of the product and thus avoid cross-contamination, becoming more hygienic than cellulose reels.

Dispensing cellulose in reels is often a saving, given its sale in industrial quantities. But is this system hygienic? 

In other posts, we discussed the importance of using large-capacity dispensers to dispense these coils as we avoid cross-contamination. 

Even so, since the paper is not covered, the risk of this phenomenon occurring remains. That is why it is recommended to cut paper towels in the most critical environments

What are the advantages of cutting paper towels over industrial reels? 

  • They allow safer dispensing. The dispenser entirely covers them, and we only touch the unit used at that moment. 
  • They optimize consumption. By coming previously cut, possible abuses in consumption are avoided. 
  • They offer a more elegant and careful appearance, thus conveying to users a more significant concern for hygiene. 

As we can see, one of the main advantages is that the risks of cross-contamination are considerably reduced

We only have to take into account the area where the cut-up towel dispenser is going to be placed and the use to which it is going to be given since, for example, in a production plant, replacements would be very closely spaced from each other, thus complicating the workers’ work.

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Benefits of kitchen towels and their precautions

Kitchen towels are a great tool when cooking or cleaning. You must be very careful about what you will do with the towels; using a towel for each action is better.

How to use kitchen towels

As we told you, kitchen towels are a great tool in the kitchen; you should take into account the following tips:

  1. Use different kitchen towels: Cleaning a kitchen is a mandatory task in every home, and many times we use towels and dry the dishes; it is a big mistake; towels are an excellent environment for bacteria to reproduce. Use different towels for each use, one to clean the kitchen, dry the dishes and cutlery, and hold pots or pans; each has its primary function.
  2. Wash kitchen towels immediately after use to reduce the chances of getting a bacteria-laden towel.
  3. Fire and fabric are not good combinations, and if you use kitchen towels as protection for your hands from heat, it is recommended that it is not so large and does not have filaments, which could cause your towel to catch fire from being so close.
  4. It has a shelf life; Do not think that the towels are eternal and that you will inherit them from your children, change them every so often, especially the ones you use for cleaning. This way, you will avoid bacterial contamination.
  5. Store it in dry environments; Kitchen towels are prone to bacteria, and if the climates they are in are humid, the chances of having a large colony of bacteria increase. Avoid keeping them wet, do not put them near damp places.

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Why reusing kitchen towels poses a health risk 2023

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