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Kitchen towels – are you washing them enough?

New microbiology research

A new study presented at the American Society for Microbiology has highlighted the issue of infections caused by moist kitchen towels. The problem is particularly acute in kitchens were meat is prepared and cooked. A particular risk for meat eating households is e-coli, but the study found that vegetarian families were still at risk from Enterococcus. You can read about the study and the advice the authors give on this webpage.

Kitchen towels are a particular risk factor because they are often moist and are used after raw food has been prepped.

Below is some basic advice to minimise the risk of infection or illness from germs breeding on your towels.


Adding soda crystals laundry boost to the drawer
mother and baby

Laundry advice - for best results and to reduce the risk of illness

  • Change the towels regularly - possibly even daily
  • Keep them dry
  • Smell them; if there's a smell, there are germs breeding!
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after preparing food - even vegetables.

The article advises that towels be tumble dried on the basis that heat will help kill germs. But not everybody has a tumble drier or even wants to use it regularly, especially on 'good drying days'.

We would advise the use of Soda Crystals in the wash, or even better Soda Crystals Laundry Boost which contains oxygen bleach. As with all washes, the hotter the wash, the more chance of you removing harmful germs. Remember that a 40 degC wash is only just warmer than body temperature! Hotter washes also reduce the risk of bacteria build up within the machine itself.

General Laundry Advice

  1. Separate coloureds and whites into separate washes and occassionally wash the whites at a higher temp wash (above 60 degC) if the garment care label allows. If you really don't want to wash at higher temperatures, consider using Soda Crystals Laundry Boost to stop whites becoming grey.
  2. Particularly with towels, do not use fabric conditioner. Instead replace it with white vinegar.
  3. Do tumble dry towels occassionally to help plump up the fibres; the addition of drier (or tennis) balls will help.
  4. Try to wash nappies and soiled underwear separately if practical. Or at the least wash at 60 degC or above and consider using Soda Crystals Laundry Boost .

10 thoughts on “Kitchen towels – are you washing them enough?

  1. I have just moved house and the existing washing machine needs a good clean before I will use it. How can I best do this without washing clothes?

  2. I always use soda crystals in my washing, but another tip that may be worth passing on is to was tea towels on their own, not with the main wash and wash at 60 or above, and also wash hand and bath towels alone again at 60 or above, and yes the use of white vinegar is great, I use it all the time.

  3. Many thanks for all your advice and tips. Would you be able to tell me where I can buy soda crystals laundry boost in my area, Burgess Hill, West Sussex?
    Kind regards

    1. Hi – if you call or pop in to Upstairs Downstairs at 131-133 London Rd, Burgess Hill RH15 8LU Tel 01444 235781 then they will get it in from the wholesaler. Ask for Richard.

  4. All towels (tea towels, hand towels etc.) are washed in a single hot wash – as hot as the machine can get it. Line dried and then Ironed (steam iron of course) now getting a full blast of steam during that process sorts out any bacteria remaining from the hot wash! Overkill? Maybe but I’d rather kill the bacteria than them kill me!

  5. I find one statement laughable! “Use one towel for hand and one for pots.”
    How do the pots get dry without the hand holding the towel and drying them!
    Otherwise, I agree.

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