Doctor issues gross warning over common kitchen item that has 'severe infection' risk

Dishcloths can be extremely dirty -Credit:Getty

A leading doctor has issued an important warning to replace a common kitchen item as it could lead to a "very severe infection" if left unchecked.

Dishcloths are not an item that is washed regularly and can be left sitting damp on the side of the sink. As temperatures begin to climb, your kitchen can become a hotspot for germs and bacteria, reports the Mirror.

Dr Gareth Nye, programme lead for medical science at the University of Chester, has warned against using dishcloths unless they are thoroughly washed after every use and replaced every few months.

In collaboration with Magnet Trade, Dr Nye researched the extent of bacterial growth on dishcloths and shared his tips for cleaning and storing them.

He said: "90 per cent of UK dishcloths were considered heavily contaminated with bacteria compared, with 20 per cent of toilet flush handles. The toilet fairs better than other kitchen areas such as the kitchen tap and worktop. Again, according to recent studies, around 70 per cent of UK dishcloths are infected with over one billion bacteria per 100sqcm area - or around half a billion for your average sized dish cloth."

Dr Nye also listed seven harmful bacteria that can commonly be found on dishcloths that include E.coli, and what symptoms they cause. These include:

  • E coli - diarrhoea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa - can lead to respiratory failure, shock, and death

  • Salmonella - diarrhoea, fever, and stomach cramps

  • Staphylococcus aureus - if allowed to enter the bloodstream can cause bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections

  • Enterobacter - urinary tract infections, respiratory infections

  • Klebsiella - urinary tract infections, respiratory infections

  • Bacillus subtilis - vomiting and diarrhoea

The expert warned: "All bacteria can cause very severe infections in patients who are very young or old, or have underlying health conditions which make them more prone to infections. Bacteria will grow at different speeds depending on how damp the cloth is, how it's left and what it comes into contact with during its use.

"Recommendations are to not use them, but if you do, you should be washing thoroughly after each use and rinse with an anti-bacterial detergent every two days to kill harbouring germs. You should also change your dishcloth every few months. Ideally you should switch to anti-bacterial wipes to clean some surfaces, particularly after the preparation of raw meat or poultry which are known producers of harmful bacteria."

How to store your dishcloth to minimise bacterial growth

Dr Nye has told homeowners they should store dry dishcloths away from any potential bacteria hotspots and laid out flat.

He said: "A moist dishcloth left in a warm kitchen provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. This is particularly likely if food traces are present, too. They should be kept dry, away from potential sources of bacteria and laid as flat as possible. Bacteria grew and multiplied in all types of cloths that were crumpled, but levels of bacteria were reduced by 1,000 times if the dishcloths were hung to dry for 24 hours at room temperature."

How to wash dishcloths to remove bacteria

Dishcloths can hold some serious diseases such as E.coli -Credit:Getty

1. Wash on a hot cycle of 90C

Dr Nye explained: "Ideally, to ensure all bacteria is removed you should wash dishcloths in a washing machine on a suitably high temperature, such as a hot cycle of 90C. Be sure to check the fibre content of your cloths before washing, as synthetic varieties won’t withstand high temperatures - so if you haven’t already, invest in natural materials that can withstand a hot wash."

2. Make sure all food and dirt is removed

The expert said: "If you wash and disinfect cloths by hand, make sure all the food and dirt has been removed by washing in hot soapy water before you disinfect them. After washing, you can disinfect by using boiling water or a disinfectant, following the manufacturer’s instructions."

3. Allow the clothes to fully dry between cleans

Dr Nye also said: "You must also allow the cloths to fully dry between cleans. Cloths that are not dried properly can go on to harbour bacteria, eliminating the benefits of cleaning them in the first place."

4. Iron them before use

Finally, the expert added: "Giving them a good iron before use is also a quick and effective way of sanitising them, as steam is great at killing harmful bacteria."

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our newsletter here.