Kitchen towels and dishcloths should probably be changed more often than you think. Harmful bacteria can be transferred to a dishcloth when wiping unclean kitchen surfaces. The bacteria are then spread all over the kitchen when that same towel is used to wipe counters, the kitchen table, and the top of the stove.
How often should you change your kitchen towels and dishcloths?
The USDA recommends kitchen towels should be changed frequently and a common recommendation is to change them daily. However, it does depend on how often the towel is used and what it is used for in the kitchen. For example, if a kitchen towel was used to clean up raw meat, poultry, or seafood juices, then it should go immediately into the laundry and a clean one should be used.
How to properly wash kitchen towels:
Wash kitchen towels on the HOT cycle of the washer and make sure they dry completely on a high setting.
Basic Steps to Food Safety:
In addition to changing kitchen towels frequently and using paper towels to wipe down surfaces, the USDA also recommends using the four basic steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill to help prevent food poisoning while preparing food. Examples include:
- Making sure hands and all cooking surfaces are washed frequently and correctly while preparing food.
- Separating raw meat away from other items that you are preparing.
- Cooking meat, poultry, egg products, and fish to the right temperature as measured by a food thermometer.
- Refrigerating perishable food within two hours of cooking and storing it properly.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Are Your Kitchen Surfaces and Sponges Really Clean?
S. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, V. Moodelly; Univ. of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius, (June, 2018): Kitchen Towels as a Risk Factor for Home-Based Food Poisoning
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Are You Sure It Wasn't Food Poisoning?
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Clean THEN Sanitize: A One-Two Punch to Stop Foodborne Illness in the Kitchen
Article originally written by Alice Henneman, reviewed and updated in 2020.