How clean is your dishcloth?
The kitchen dishcloth plays an important role in hygiene and food safety in every kitchen as they are used to clean worktops and surfaces of visible contamination and can remove a significant proportion of the food debris and microorganisms present on kitchen surfaces. However, as they frequently remain wet for long periods of time and always contain some residual soil or debris, dishcloths provide an ideal environment for the survival and growth of microorganisms. Hence, dishcloths, by the nature of their function, may represent a health risk because of their potential to increase exposure to harmful bacteria.
This report brings together the results of two related studies, carried out in 2011 and 2012. One study investigated the microbiological contamination of “in-use” household dishcloths along with consumer demographic and behavioural findings in relation to the use and cleaning of these dishcloths.
The other study examined, in controlled investigations, the effectiveness of various methods for decontaminating different types of dishcloth and the transfer of contamination from dishcloths to kitchen surfaces.
The results obtained underpin consumer advice on the use of dishcloths in the home with the aim of minimising contamination and cross-contamination of food preparation surfaces in the kitchen.