Notably, E. coli is a kind of virus which is common in animal as well as human intestines.
They found that E.coli was more likely to be found on tea towels that are used for several purposes such as drying kitchen utensils and wiping surfaces, as well as drying hands.
Out of all the kitchen towels collected for the study, 49 percent had bacterial growth which increased with an increase in the number of family members, the presence of children and extended family. The findings showed that Coliforms (Escherichia coli) was higher in damp towels, multipurpose towels and in towels from families that had non-vegetarian diets.
Keep them dry. Bacteria love moisture, and humid towels grow more of it. Keep your towels splayed open on a rack or rod where they can dry out in between uses, and consider getting a towel with nylon or polyester in the fabric, as they'll dry faster than 100% cotton towels. Thanks in part to how often they are reused, they are often filth-encrusted sheets infested with bacteria, meaning that they're putting you - an innocent kitchen-dweller - at an elevated risk of food poisoning.
"In this study, we investigated the potential role of kitchen towels in cross-contamination in the kitchen and various factors affecting the microbial profile and load of kitchen towels", said lead author Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, senior lecturer from the Department of Health Sciences at the university.
The researchers said the presence of E. coli indicated possible faecal contamination and bad hygiene practices.
When is the last time you washed your kitchen towels? The study determined that meat-eating households, large family homes, and homes with a lower socio-economic background also had higher rates of bacteria growth, The Independent reports.
"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of towels should be discouraged", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said in a statement. Bacteria also marked their presence on towels with traces of meat on it.
So wash those used towels up every few days and enjoy your fresh, dry, disease-free kitchen. Biranjia-Hurdoyal conducted an earlier study of kitchen tables in 2016 and found they can also be hangout spots for unsafe bacteria.
"It doesn't surprise me at all that something that's in a kitchen environment has bacteria on it".