They often cause arguments – with one partner accusing another of leaving wet towels on the floor. However, an expert says that not only can they cause relationship strife, towels can also cause illness.
Hygiene expert Professor Philip Tierno has pointed out that towels can become a breeding ground for bacteria, as they can have funghi, dead skin and even urine and fecal matter on them if left for too long between washes. Germs multiply because the towel’s damp, warm fibres are a perfect breeding ground for them.
Professor Tierno is now recommending that we all wash our towels after every three washes. The New York University School of Medicine expert said that people should be aware that if there was any odour coming from a towel, that meant that microbes were growing so it needed to be washed.
While it said it was difficult to say for certain whether microbes growing on bathroom towels could cause harm, he said that it was best to be on the safe side by washing them, particularly for people sharing a towel with others in their household.
Even if they don’t cause illness, the professor said that the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus could cause unsightly boils or pimples. Towels have everything they need to grow more bacteria, in the form of water, warmth, oxygen and even food from the skin people shed as they rub themselves dry. The human body is also host to bacteria, which rubs off onto the surface of the towel.
The warning follows earlier research which found that the most germ infested items in most households were not the door handles or the toilet seats, but the towels. A study carried out by the University of Arizona revealed that coliform bacteria, which is present in faeces, was present in 89 per cent of kitchen tea towels, with bacteria also being found in bath towels.