Outside view of VIDA Building

Should You Wash Your Kitchen Towels Separately?

Kitchen towels and plates on a counter. Photo credit: Kelly Lacy

February 2021

One of the amenities our residents love most is having a washing machine and dryer included with their apartment or townhome. And when it comes to doing laundry, you probably separate lights, darks, and delicates. But would you ever run a separate load just for kitchen towels and dish cloths? It’s actually a very good idea.

Kitchen towels get a special kind of dirty. A study testing used kitchen towels found that 89% contained coliform bacteria and 26% had traces of E. coli. Neither of those are anything you want getting mixed in with your other laundry – and both require special care.

But first a question. How often do you launder your kitchen towels and dish cloths? Ideally, it should be every other day. As they gather bacteria and particles of food, the possibility of cross contamination increases over time. The best approach is to have several sets that you switch out every other day, and then wash all of them together in the same load at the end of the week.

In addition to washing those items separately, it’s important to wash them properly. Use your washing machine’s hot water setting and include a bacteria-killing additive like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer (that’s in addition to your normal laundry detergent).

If you’d like additional information on a variety of food safety tips and procedures, you can visit the FDA’s Food Safety website.