Study Says – Filthy Towels Can Be The Biggest Source Of Contamination

Everything that surrounds us in our home is a habitat for different kinds of bacteria, we usually consider our toilet is the main source of germs. Many other surfaces in your home are dirtier than you think.

For example, handles are covered in different bacteria as well as your phone, kitchen sink, and other places. But, did you ever take time to think about your towels? The latest study showed that towels you use every day are dirtier than you imagine. Scroll down to find out more!

How Dirty Are Your Towels?

Due to the fact that occurrence of enteric bacteria (gram-negative bacteria naturally occurring in human or animal intestines) in dishcloths and kitchen sponges previous research confirmed they are a major factor in contamination of food and hands by foodborne pathogens.

In order to get a more meaningful insight into this important topic, Charles P. Gerba and a team of scientists at the University of Michigan School of Public Health carried out a study.

The primary objective of the research was to investigate the occurrence of bacteria in kitchen towels that we mainly used to dry hands, dishes, and other surfaces in kitchen and other areas of our home.

For this purpose, scientists collected 82 kitchen hand towels from households in five US and Canadian cities. Then, they determined the prevalence of different types of bacteria:

  • Heterotrophic Bacteria – A group of microorganisms that absorb or ingest carbon. About 95% of all living organisms are heterotrophic
  • Coliform Bacteria – Present in digestive tract and faeces of animals and humans
  • Escherichia ColiEscherichia Coli Bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals

Results of the study, published in the Food Protection Trends[1], revealed that bacteria are quite prevalent in towels.

In fact, 89% towels contained coliform bacteria while E. coli was found in 25.6% of them. Findings also showed that presence of E. coli was closely related to the frequency of washing.

Why Are Bacteria In Our Towels?

We tend to consider towels as trusted allies in hygiene, but these findings make us wonder why scientists found so many bacteria in them. Towels are great traps for bacteria primarily because every time you use them, the natural skin bacteria and germs are transferred onto their surface.

It is also important to mention that in most cases these germs don’t have a negative health effect because our bodies are adapted to living in the environment wherein they’re surrounded by numerous microbes.

Furthermore, towels are a fertile ground for bacteria because they are usually warm, damp, and absorbent, and we keep them in relatively dark bathrooms.

In the bathroom, your hands transfer microbes to all sorts of surfaces even towels and some of these bacteria are fecal organisms like coliform bacteria.

A major reason why there are so many these microbes in towels is that most people don’t wash their hands thoroughly before using a towel to dry them.

Gerba explains[2] that after only two days if you use a hand towel to dry your face, you’ll get more E. coli on facial skin than you would by sticking your head in the toilet and flushed it.

You can’t make your towels 100% bacteria free, but you can reduce* their presence by washing kitchen and bathroom towels often. Also, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.

See More: Why It Is Needed To De-Clutter Your Home To De- Stress Your Mind?


The latest study found that our towels contain different bacteria and they’re dirtier than most people assume.
That happens because towels are damp and absorbent so it’s easy to transfer microbes from our skin onto them. You can’t eliminate* all bacteria but you can reduce* them by washing towels frequently.

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