The Dangers of Dishcloths

If you think you are safe using a washcloth on your dishes or if you are a professional cleaner and want to use the same cloth to spruce up the office kitchen – think again.

Shocking research showed that more than 90 per cent of commercial and home dishcloths harbour dangerous bugs such as Ecoli and Staph.

The study, which was conducted by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), thoroughly examined dishcloths from both commercial and home environments.

Commercial location washcloths were 92 per cent positive for coliforms, with 6 per cent showing traces of Listeria and 4 per cent evidencing Staphylococcus.

But the workplace was not the only the only place to be worried about as dish cloths from people’s homes revealed 96 percent had coliforms such as Ecoli, 6 per cent Listeria and 6 per Staphylococcus aureus.

Many people who think they follow good sanitation habits by frequently washing hands thoroughly with soap from a soap dispenser and completing the process by drying with an automatic hand drier or towel from a paper dispenser are not even aware that simply cleaning their kitchen could negate all their good practices.

Also most people are unaware that the damp, warm environment in kitchens cause bacteria to multiply on dishcloths, and when used on work surfaces, are spread on worktops and other areas throughout the kitchen.

Sponges can prove to be even more dangerous as they show higher levels of bacteria due to their water retention.

Commenting on the findings, Julie Barratt, CIEH Director, said: “Most people assume that they get sick either from not cooking food properly or by eating food outside the home – but this research shows that their upset stomach could be as a result of contaminated dish cloth.

“For healthy adults a bout of food poisoning could be nasty and inconvenient but for the very young or the very old food poisoning could be life threatening.”

“In order to minimise the risk of contamination, we would recommend that dish cloths are machine washed regularly and that people avoid using dish cloths to dry their hands.”

One effective way to combat these results is to remain diligent and attentive throughout the cleaning process, and to frequently change or sanitise dishcloths to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens like Ecoli and Staph.