Towels are the most taken-for-granted things in our houses. We use them often and neglect them even more. In most houses, hand towels are shared. Towels are used to ‘cleanse’ our hands and bodies. But we often forget about the sanitation associated with the towels. We often forget that towels need to be cleansed as well to keep us sanitized. Nothing is completely free from germs ever. Even a towel out of a dryer is not completely germ-free. So, it is important to know more about our towels.
Towels And Germs
Towels can quickly become a breeding ground for germs as it can retain moisture and this can help germs in propagating without any problem. Researchers have found that towels are the most germ-laden objects in a house. High level of germ infestation is because the towels are generally used by multiple individuals and they sometime come in contact with things like raw meat. According to a study conducted in the University of Arizona, 89% of the total bacteria found in a towel was coliform bacteria and the rest was E. coli. Coliform bacteria is the germ responsible for food poisoning and diarrhea and it is generally found in feces. According to the study author Charles Gerba, we can contaminate our food by touching towels and then we risk infecting ourselves by bringing that hand closer to our mouths. Author further warns that we can infect our family members by sharing contaminated towels with them.
Apart from bacteria, molds can also make comfortable homes in towels. This is more true for people who live in humid climate or near by an ocean or sea. You should take precautions against this as molds of fungi reproduce through spores. These spores can act as allergens after entering our respiratory tracts.
Three elements of towels that can provide a great environment for germs to breed are organic material, warmth and moisture.
Risks Associated With Dirty Towels
Dirty, unwashed towels are the most common mode of microbial contamination. Dermatophytic fungi are the causative agent behind athlete’s foot. This organism can easily survive on a towel and spread contamination to cuts and bruises. Dirty towels can aggravate skin infections. Hence, it is important to follow good hygienic methods for sanitizing our towels.
Towel Management For Good Hygiene
Cotton towels should be avoided in a communal setting. Multiple individuals with varying hygiene using a same towel can provide a great platform for germs to spread and contaminate. In a social setting where multiple users are involved, paper towels and hand drying machine can be ideal solutions. Towels used by single individual should washed regularly. Towels at gyms can be another great place for breeding germs. To sanitize these towels completely, these towels should be washed and dried effectively before using. Drying a towel is a great way of stalling microbial growth. It is also important to remember that keeping damp or dry towels in moist bathrooms will only aggravate microbial growth.
In one study, researchers have found that coliforms, salmonella and E.coli can survive in towels even after drying and can grow again in the presence of moisture. It was found out that soaking clothes in bleach for two minutes helped in getting rid of bacteria more effectively.
Professor Anthony Hilton of the Aston University warns against washing clothes at a low temperature as it might not kill bacteria completely. He mentions that sometimes people prefer to wash clothes at a lower temperature. This might not be a good practice. Since many organisms live inside our bodies, they are not likely to die at 30 degrees. And clothes belonging to sick individuals should be washed at higher temperature.
So, wash your towels regularly or at least once in every three to four days to avoid contamination and diseases.