Towels are sometimes used to wipe hands, and then surfaces that might have contained raw meat products.
Don't read this bit if you're squeamish. A study by the University of Arizona found coliform bacteria, also present in faeces, in 89% of kitchen tea towels (leading to food poisoning and diarrhea) as well as e-coli in 25.6% of the tea towels.
Bath towels and washcloths are not much better, according to study author. Apparently, you can cross contaminate food when you wipe your hands on a towel before handling other food, or bring your hands to your mouth and infect yourself.
Of course, every member of the family should use their own bathroom towels to avoid spreading bacteria around.
I suffered a nasty shock in the 80s when my daughter and her boyfriend came to stay. Despite me telling him which color towel he should use, he used mine and passed on a nasty infection to me. From then on, I made sure everyone under my protection used their own towel.
Here's some advice from the experts: To combat the spread of germs, add vinegar in the place of fabric softener or soak cloths in a diluted bleach solution for two minutes before a wash to help reduce bacteria.
That sounds awkward. I guess it could be done in the washing machine to avoid heavy hand-wringing.
The best way to combat the spread of bacteria is a regular, hot-water wash cycle, using fragrance-free detergent to avoid irritating your skin.
Sigh! On the one hand, we're advised to wash in cool water to avoid the over-use of power to heat the water. And now, we should use hot water on towels to stop the spread of germs.
I'm in charge of the washing in our household. My husband does the cooking and washing up after the meal. I've noticed that he uses the tea towel for wiping surfaces as well as drying dishes. I need to change that towel more often.