If your dishcloth has been hanging around and wiping up messes for more than a day or two, it’s at risk for contamination from salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus and other bacterias and mould. Chris Smith, a consultant virologist at the University of Cambridge and the managing editor of the Naked Scientist, tells The Guardian that we should be boiling our cloths in a saucepan:
“If you look in the average kitchen you’ll find a dishcloth that is probably soaking wet, full of food particles and whatever it has been wiped around with.” he says. “People will then wipe their table with the misapprehension that this germ-laden rag will somehow improve the infection profile of the table.”
Luckily, if you’ve managed to avoid illness thus far, boiling your rags is a quick and easy fix to keep things clean going forward. Writer Kristine Solomon at Reader’s Digest gives us the step-by-step instructions:
- Fill a pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
- Add the rags and boil for 15 minutes.
- Consider adding about 1/8 cup of baking soda to the water to help eliminate odours.
- Remove the cloths with tongs and hang them up to dry (or finish them off in the dryer).
Solomon has a few other words of wisdom for us:
A few pro tips? Don’t combine dark and light-coloured dishcloths in the same pot (just like laundry). And if you’re using baking soda, keep an eye on the pot, as it might froth over. Doing this boiling process on a regular basis will even prolong the life of the dishcloths, so you won’t have to replace them as often.
You can also throw dishcloths in the washing machine, but wash heavily soiled towels and cloths separately from other household laundry, and use the hottest setting.