LIFESTYLE

Your Tea Towels Could Be Making You Sick: Cloths Are The Worst For Harbouring Germs, Say Scientists

27/04/2015 11:37 BST | Updated 27/04/2015 11:59 BST

Food poisoning: it's no laughing matter.

And if you don't want to spend days with your head stuck down the toilet, then you might want to address the major (and often unsuspecting) source of your hygiene woes.

Yep that's right, the humble tea towel.

tea towel hygiene

Researchers at Kansas State University discovered that when it comes to food preparation, tea towels are a nightmare for becoming contaminated.

The study, which was published in the journal Food Protection Trends, observed 123 participants while they prepared a meal.

Lead researcher Jeannie Sneed said: "Participants were observed frequently handling towels, including paper towels, even when not using them for drying.

"Towels were determined to be the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces tested."

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Researchers found that many participants would touch the towel before washing their hands or would use the towel after not washing their hands properly.

And even after washing their hands properly, participants would wipe their hands on the already-contaminated tea towel - putting themselves at risk once again.

Scientists suggest that cloth towels can easily become contaminated at significant levels, which can lead to serious foodborne illnesses.

Bacteria such as salmonella, which is often found in raw meat and poultry, can grow on a dish cloth or tea towel overnight - even if they're washed and rinsed in the sink.

To avoid illness, Sneed advises to wash cloth towels after using them to prepare a meal. Failing that, use kitchen roll (or paper towels) and discard the sheets after each use.

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Your iPhone Is Covered In These Bacteria

The eye-opening research also found phone-use while preparing food to be another major cause for concern.

"We often take our cell phones and tablets into the kitchen, but what about all the other places we take them?" said Sneed.

"Think of how many times you see someone talking on their cell phone in places like the bathroom, where microorganisms such as norovirus and E. coli are commonly found."

So if you're going to use your phone in the kitchen, it's worth wiping your device with an anti-bacterial wipe before you start.

Better to be safe than sorry.

[H/T Lifehacker]