It’s scientifically proven that your dishtowel is the biggest culprit of spreading foodborne illnesses.

By Olivia Harvey
December 28, 2017
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We have unsettling news about your favorite dishtowel. Scientists have proven that your favorite dishtowel is most likely the germiest thing in your kitchen. A 2015 Kansas State University study found that people too often touch their dishtowel before washing their hands and/or after washing their hands inadequately, thus leading to the contamination of the towel. And if test subjects did wash their hands properly, they would often reuse the towel and contaminate their hands all over again.

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Researchers found that cloth towels can quickly become contaminated with microorganisms. Microorganisms and bacteria like salmonella can grow at rapid speeds on a cloth surface when left overnight, even when that surface was washed. Imagine using that cloth the next morning to dry your cereal bowl—yuck!

Kansas State food safety specialist Jeannie Sneed told ScienceDaily that dishtowels should be washed after every meal prep. She also said that using and discarding paper towels can also lessen the chance of spreading a foodborne illnesses via dishtowel.

Sneed also suggests leaving your cell phone out of the food prep equation. Think about all the other places you take your cell phone—the bathroom being the main problem area. Germs from the bathroom, including norovirus and E. coli, could then be brought into the kitchen, get onto your hands, and then onto your dishtowel, causing big issues for your gastrointestinal system.

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There are a few tips you should take into consideration if you use dishtowels. Use several dishtowels for certain tasks and don’t interchange them. Reserve one towel for drying, one towel for counter-wiping, etc. Sneed recommends switching out and laundering these towels daily.

With a simple run through a laundry cycle, that dishtowel will be good as new and germ free. Wash your hands thoroughly and keep it away from raw meat in order to keep it that way.