Experts warn of bone infections, pneumonia and UTIs if you use this kitchen item

A directly above shot of a clean kitchen sink, a sponge and washing up liquid can be seen near by.
Microbiologist reveals this one daily used kitchen item could be harbouring millions of harmful bacteria -Credit:Getty

Homeowners are being advised to stop using a specific item in their kitchen as it poses a significant health risk.

Experts warn dishcloths can harbour an alarming number of harmful bacteria.

They say these germs can potentially expose individuals to diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and respiratory infections. In severe cases, people may suffer from bone infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Dishcloths are often neglected when it comes to regular washing, unlike other household items. They are usually left on the sink and forgotten until they start to smell.

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However, as the weather gets warmer, the kitchen becomes an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. Dr Gareth Nye has issued a new warning recommending that you shouldn't use dishcloths.

But if you do, he advises you should wash them thoroughly after each use. He also suggests changing them every few months to give them the best chance of staying clean of bacteria.

Magnet Trade worked with Dr Gareth Nye, Programme Lead for Medical Science, to investigate how much bacteria can be found on dishcloths. They have also looked at best practices for cleaning and storing them to remove bacteria.

Dishcloths can carry more bacteria than your toilet

Dr Nye warns dishcloths carry more bacteria than your toilet. He said: “90% of UK dishcloths were considered heavily contaminated with bacteria compared with 20% 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% of UK dishcloths are infected with over one billion bacteria per 100cm2 area. Or, around half a billion for your average sized dish cloth.”

Dirty dishcloth
Dishcloths can carry more bacteria than your toilet -Credit:Magnet Trade

Dr Nye says there are seven types of harmful bacteria on dishcloths, which can cause a range of symptoms:

  • 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.

  • Enterobacter - urinary tract infections, respiratory infections.

  • Klebsiella - urinary tract infections, respiratory infections.

  • Bacillus subtilis – vomiting and diarrhoea.

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

“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," Dr Nye added.

Dr Nye recommends avoiding dishcloths

He said: "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

The expert warns: "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 make sure you remove bacteria

  • Wash dishcloths on a hot cycle of 90°C

Dr Nye said: "Ideally, to ensure all bacteria is removed you should wash dish cloths in a washing machine on a suitably high temperature, such as a hot cycle of 90°C. 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”

  • Make sure all food and dirt is removed

He 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."

  • Allow the cloths to fully dry between cleans

Dr Nye advises homeowners to 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.

  • Iron them before use

Dr Nye said: “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."