Australians should be washing or changing their tea towels every day if they want to avoid potentially deadly bouts of food poisoning.
And you’re most at risk if you eat meat, or if you have children – that’s according to Paul Mangold, a cleaning expert with Australian firm Fantastic Services.
He explains: “Tea towels make the perfect breeding ground for germs. They’re often moist and warm from previous use, allowing for bacteria to multiply rapidly.
“And because they come into contact with all manner of surfaces – from your dirty hands to clean dishes - you need to be really careful to make sure there’s no cross-contamination.
“I’d recommend you either replace them every day with clean, dry ones, or you wash them at the end of each day so they’re ready for use again the next morning.
“Be sure not to wash them with soiled garments, either, like filthy socks or gym shoes. Instead batch wash them.”
Paul points to a scientific study conducted by the University of Bristol, when researchers asked dozens of people to prepare a simple chicken meal in their kitchen, and then analysed the bacteria left on a range of surfaces.
Paul adds: “In that experiment, none of the taps or sinks tested positive for bugs like Campylobacter or Salmonella.
“But one in every 32 tea towels – and many of the sponges used to wash-up – did.
“That illustrates just how dangerous tea towels can be when it comes to harbouring all manner of nasties.
“And make no mistake, it’s very easy to suffer food poisoning caused by bugs like Salmonella and Campylobacter. If the infection is serious enough, and if the patient is particularly vulnerable, it’s not unknown for food poisoning to cause fatalities.
“I’d expect other germs to be lurking in tea towels, too, including Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus, which can also make you extremely unwell.
“If you’re a meat eater, or you eat dairy, then you’re clearly more at risk as these foods have a greater risk of contamination.
“Those with families might also be at an elevated risk. It’s all too easy for a child to drop the tea towel on the floor and then neglect to tell his or her parents.”
Paul says there’s potentially an even greater risk lurking in your kitchen – oven gloves.
“Oven gloves can easily come into contact with raw food, such as chicken or raw egg,” he adds. “And these substances might then come into contact with cooked food as you’re taking them out of the oven.
“When was the last time you washed your oven gloves? Chances are you don’t do it as regularly as your tea towels.
“And that’s a habit which could also make you unwell.”
For more information, visit Fantastic Services