Designated Hand Towels Keep Kitchens Safer

| 12/6/2012 10:04:18 AM

Tags: Kitchen towels just for hands, keep kitchens healthy, Mary Moss-Sprague,

Dish ClothsWhen I took the state Extension Service master food preserver course several years ago, the first two or three classes focused solely on food safety. Not surprisingly, a much-emphasized subject was hand washing. 

Now that’s the first thing I mention when teaching food preservation classes — and I keep mentioning it. Whether there’s just one person or 10 gathered in or using your kitchen, preventing the spread of microorganisms (germs) is a crucial issue. Hand washing is the first defense.

Having said that, I’ll hastily add that it drives me absolutely crazy to see people sanitizing their kitchens up one side and down the other with commercial cleaning products. The current craze to disinfect every possible object and surface isn’t necessary. Sure, I admit to keeping a little bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse to use before dining out or in other dicey situations. But, I’m not a “clean and sterile” fanatic. It has been well-proven that using too many antibacterial products is counterproductive. It’s screwing up the natural balance of good and bad bacteria and leading to resistance to antibiotics. Also, I don’t advocate using paper towels to wipe up spills or clean one’s hands. That’s what the ol’ family ragbag is for. 

Okay, let’s cut to the chase for this article’s focus: a major source of germs and their growth is in cloth dish towels, when not used properly. Otherwise, cloth towels are much more efficient, absorbent, and environmentally-friendly than paper towels. They’re perfect for drying glasses, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, etc.

Just don’t make the mistake of using those same towels for wiping and drying hands!

That bears repeating: no dirty hands should ever be wiped or dried on the same towels used for drying dishware, kitchen utensils, or countertops. Take a look at your own kitchen’s function: in most households, the kitchen is the central hub of activity. Naturally, its primary purpose is for cooking, as well as food preservation projects. But, this all-important room might also serve as “homework central” where kids do their schoolwork while snacking. Adults, too, may prefer to congregate there to munch a snack or enjoy a glass of wine when you entertain or do communal cooking. 

Jacquelyn Bryson
12/9/2012 11:04:59 AM

I would like to comment on the dishtowel article. Those of us that grew up in th 50s and 60s knew which towels to use. The dish towels were usually hung up high on the rack and the hand towels were down low.. In addition to the towels there were also the sink rag, as opposed to the dish cloth, as well as something for the floor. Paper towels were a luxury item, and to some of us still are.

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