A study has revealed what may be lurking in your tea towel.
A study has revealed what may be lurking in your tea towel.

The ugly side to your household tea towel

USING your tea towel multiple times in between washes could leave your family at risk of food poisoning, new research has found.

Tea towels that aren't washed regularly or left to dry between uses carry nasty bugs like E.coli and staph bacteria.

The tea towel can contains various bacteria
The tea towel can contains various bacteria

According to The Sun, experts from the University of Mauritius examined 100 tea towels after a months use in a family home.

Of those, 49 tested positive for bacterial growth, with 36 per cent contaminated with E.coli, 36 per cent contaminated with Enterococcus spp and 14 per cent with Staphylococcus aureus.

All of the bugs can cause food poisoning, with E.coli most likely to cause tummy pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea.

Staphylococcus aureus, or Staph A, also causes skin infections including boils and blisters and Enterococcus spp, which is normally found in our digestive tracts, can cause bacterial infections meningitis in already ill people.

Some 36 per cent of contaminated towels had E.coli bacteria, which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain
Some 36 per cent of contaminated towels had E.coli bacteria, which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain

The larger the family the higher the chance of bacterial growth on the tea towels, the study found.

Lead author Dr Biranjia-Hurdoyal said: "Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels.

"We also found that diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning."

The risk of E.coli was higher in damp towels than in ones left to dry between uses and diet played a role too.

A study shows how a tea towel can spread food poisoning.
A study shows how a tea towel can spread food poisoning.

Families who ate meat were more likely to have bacteria growing on their tea towels and E.coli indicated possible faecal contamination from bad hygiene.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen," Dr Biranjia-Hurdoyal added.

"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged.

"Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen."

Families who ate meat were more likely to have bacteria growing on their tea towels and E.coli indicated possible faecal contamination from bad hygiene.
Families who ate meat were more likely to have bacteria growing on their tea towels and E.coli indicated possible faecal contamination from bad hygiene.

Tea towels aren't the only thing in your kitchen harbouring germs.

Your dish cloth is also the perfect place for bacteria to breed.

Even if you rinse your cloth out with water after you have used it is not enough to kill the bugs.

Every time you reuse that cloth you are wiping bacteria across your kitchen bench.

The bacteria found in these cloths can be anything from E.coli to salmonella - all mainly from food prepared in the kitchen.

Dr Ackerley previously told The Sun Online: "I have never come across a kitchen cloth that is safe.

"People are picking up bacteria and pieces of food when they wipe surfaces with it, then leaving it by the sink to fester.

"Rinsing it under the tap doesn't help."

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.


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