Many New Zealanders risk exposing themselves to potentially harmful bacteria – simply because they continue to use dirty dishcloths to do the washing up.
A Canstar Blue survey has found that a surprising 47% of Kiwis prefer doing the dishes by hand, rather than using a dishwasher. But – how often do they change their dishcloth? And how many other tasks do we use that dishcloth for?
New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) warns that if you want to avoid spreading harmful pathogens around, you need to keep your dishcloth clean. NZFS recommends replacing your dishcloth daily – and for goodness sake don’t leave it until it smell. By then it’s way too late!
Also resist the urge to multitask with your dishcloth.
“Remember to use dishcloths, hand towels and tea towels for the jobs they are meant for. Meat and poultry juice spills are best cleaned up with disposable paper towels then wipe with a cloth and hot, soapy water. If you use a dishcloth or sponge for this and then wipe the bench you’ll be spreading pathogens around.” New Zealand Food Safety
The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 21% do indeed change their dishcloth on a daily basis – but three-quarters of us change it once a week at the most. Eeek!
The Canstar Blue survey also found that 55% of adults will use their dishwashing liquid to clean other areas of their home, which could mean they use their dishcloth to do so. We’ve all spilt something on the carpet or couch, panicked, and reached out for the easiest cleaning tool at hand.
Some of the areas cleaned with dishwashing liquid include kitchen benches and appliances, the bathroom, floor and carpet. Rather worryingly, 37% also use dishwashing liquid to clean their car!
So how can you avoid exposing yourself and your family to harmful bacteria through your dirty dishcloth – apart from not cleaning the floor with it!? Here are some healthy tips:
- Use a single use cloth and dispose of it at the end of each day.
- Soak your dishcloth in a sanitising solution if not washing hygienically in the washing machine.
- Have colour clothes depicting which is for kitchen benches, bathroom, floor or other purposes.
- Avoid leaving dishcloths sitting in the sink, wet and with food particles remaining.
- Wash the dishcloth in a sanitising solution after using it for other purposes before using again.
- Thoroughly rinse the dishcloth after use and arrange a place to hang it between uses throughout the day.
- Avoid using dishcloths for wiping hands after food preparation, unless washing before using again.