Health Team

Kitchen towels may pose bacteria risk, new study suggests

Posted July 20, 2018 2:19 p.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2018 5:45 p.m. EDT

You wash your dishes after every use, but how often do you wash your kitchen towels? New research suggests that the towels are not being washed frequently enough.

Researchers collected 100 kitchen towels after they were used for one month.

The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Results showed that about half of the towels contained bacterial growth such as E-coli and staph. The study also found that kitchen towels that were used for multiple purposes, like handling meat products, carried a risk of cross-contamination that could lead to food poisoning.

"Usually, those bacteria can last there for weeks, if not even longer," said Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. "So, they were testing exactly how much bacteria has accumulated on those towels and they're finding a substantial amount of bacteria."

Esper recommends frequently wiping down and sanitizing food prep areas, especially after working with raw meat. He also said people should remember to swab their tables regularly with bleach or some sort of disinfectant.

Also, people should be sure to clean other frequently touched kitchen surfaces, like refrigerator and microwave handles and sink faucets.

One's kitchen may never be completely bacteria free, but there are things you can do to greatly reduce your risks.

Experts suggest washing kitchen towels at least once a week, if not more. And if they towels have been soiled, they should be replaced immediately, experts say