IN the safety of your own home, the last thing you expect is a deadly foodborne infection.
But it turns out that the room where you prepare all your meals has all sorts of bacteria lurking, meaning there’s a pretty good chance you can get sick in an area you think is safe — and it does exist Studies that prove this.
The main germ sources? Your hands and uncooked fresh produce.
And that tea towel lurking on your countertop tends to soak up a lot of it as you dry your wet hands and wipe kitchen utensils and surfaces.
registered mail The conversationPrimrose Freestone, Lecturer in Clinical Microbiology at the University of Leicester, said a number of studies analyzing tea towels have found numerous pathogenic bacteria that could lead to more than just stomach upset.
According to Primrose, the bacteria found in tea towels have been linked to:
- respiratory infections
- skin infections
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- heart infections
- eye infections
- bone infections
- lung infections
- bladder infections
- brain infections
- blood infections
- lung infection
- septic arthritis
- joint infections
Yes, it’s a long list.
Referring to studies that looked at either used tea towels or kitchen surfaces that were often cleaned with linen or cotton rags, Primrose discussed what bacteria might be lurking in your kitchen.
A study examining 100 used tea towels found the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, Commonly found on the skin, it is also a pathogen that can cause a variety of problems such as abscesses, joint infections and even pneumonia.
Meanwhile, Primrose said a study of 46 kitchens found Enterobacter bacteria on surfaces – which can cause respiratory infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections, as well as heart, bone and eye infections – and E. coli, often the cause of stomach and urinary disorders tract infections.
The researchers also found Klebsiella bacteria, which are linked to serious infections of the lungs, bladder, brain and blood.
Several kitchens also had Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause lung infections, and Bacillus subtilis, which can lead to eye infections and abscesses.
And all the samples from the kitchens were found to contain Staphylococcus and Micrococcus.
In people with weakened immune systems, micrococci have been linked to lung infections such as pneumonia and septic arthritis, as well as eye and heart infections.
Primrose wrote, “These studies suggest that there is a risk of infection from tea towels and that most kitchen towels may be contaminated with high levels of bacteria.”
“Then it’s easy for these germs to get onto the food preparation surfaces and potentially cause severe food poisoning.”
If you think about it, tea towels are often left damp or bunched up on the corner of your counter.
It’s this constant moisture that makes dishcloths “such good microbial reservoirs,” according to Primrose, who noted that “water allows germs to grow.”
“And so, a damp tea towel left in a warm kitchen provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply,” the microbiologist said.
“This is particularly the case when traces of food are also present.”
How should I clean my tea towels?
Primrose pointed this out laboratory experiments Researchers who looked at covering tea towels with Salmonella found that the bacteria multiplied in all kinds of wrinkled towels.
However, when the tea towels were hung out to dry at room temperature for 24 hours, the bacterial count was reduced by a thousandfold.
So your first task is definitely to hang your tea towels out to dry at least once a day or after each use.
The microbiologist also suggested using disposable towels or paper towels for heavily contaminated areas, such as those with raw meat, to prevent the spread of bacteria.
It is best to wash your tea towels regularly – you can effectively sanitize them by giving them a hot wash at 90°C with detergent – this will help reduce the concentration of bacteria on them.
If you hand wash dishcloths, ensure that all visible food residue and dirt is removed by rinsing in hot water with dish soap.
After washing, you can disinfect any remaining microbes with boiling water or a disinfectant such as bleach diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Also, ironing tea towels on a hot setting effectively disinfects dirty tea towels as the temperature is over 90°C.
Make sure you store your freshly washed tea towels in a dry, clean place away from uncooked food and dirty hands, Primrose noted.