Attention! You might not realize it, but your dish towels are most likely dirtier than you will ever realize. In a study by Food Protection Trends, the majority of towels tested positive for coliform bacteria. That’s right. About 89 percent of those towels carried coliform bacteria and 25 percent of the batch proved to have E. coli.
Apparently when we’re using and re-using kitchen towels on pots, pans, dishes and glassware to accelerate drying them off after hand-washing, we’re introducing a lot of bacteria.
I’m not sure about you, but does it seem that those of us who operate in kitchens cannot win? Here we’re all trying to do the right thing by cleaning what we use in our eating areas. What’s the answer? Researchers with Food Protection Trends recommend frequent replacement of towels or, “decontamination of kitchen towels.”
What exactly is “decontamination of kitchen towels?” The answer is to soak your towels in bleach for two minutes to kill as much bacteria as possible. Yes, soak those towels in bleach because conventional detergent washing doesn’t do the trick. The Food Protection folks say that microbial contamination returned to the towels within 24 hours.
So, should you dip those towels in pure bleach? The people at Clorox recommend creating a diluted solution for this task. Actually, you should always dilute your bleach. Use two teaspoons of bleach for each gallon of water.
I looked into other towel-handling suggestions. According to the “SheKnows” website, don’t use the same towel to dry dishes and hands; do not wipe up kitchen counter-tops, sink or where there was meat resting.
Other sites say ditch the kitchen towel and use paper towels for the majority of wiping up or drying jobs – only use traditional kitchen towels exclusively to dry off the dishes, pots, pans and utensils.
Beyond your kitchen, those bath towels harbor bacteria as well. Even worse, you could be using bacteria-laden towels to dry your face. You ought to wash those towels after three uses and replace your fabric softener in that load with vinegar, according to the folks over at the University of Arizona.
So, happy towel decontamination!