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Are Your Kitchen Towels Buggy?

Wash, dry, rinse, repeat—and often.

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A potential danger lurking in kitchens could put us at risk for food poisoning. Household kitchen towels can expose people to dangerous pathogens, including E. coli and Staphylococcus, according to research presented at the June 2018 annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. Towels destined for multiple purposes, such as drying hands and wiping utensils, were found to have a higher bacterial count than single-use towels. Moreover, towels in kitchens where more family members gather and meat is prepared were also more likely to be infested with greater numbers of microbes.

It comes down to multiple-use towels increasing the chance of cross-contamination. Reusable kitchen cloths should be changed and laundered frequently and should ideally be designated for a single purpose. For example, have one towel for cleaning work surfaces and another for drying pots. Also, make sure kitchen towels dry thoroughly between uses, since moist towels are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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