Two Griffith University academics have put a breakfast radio team’s tea towels under the microscope to reveal just how many germs like to call them home.
Associate Professor Helen Stratton, an expert in microbiology from the School of Environment and Science, put Flan, Emily Jade and Christo from the 102.9FM Hot Tomato Gold Coast Breakfast show team and their tea towels to the test after on on-air discussion over how frequent – or infrequent – the average person should wash their tea towel led to a call for each of the presenters’ to undergo analysis.
“We’ll discover how much bacteria is on the tea towels through some lab tests,” Associate Professor Stratton said.
“It depends how dirty they are and if they stay wet. If they dry out and they’re warm the bacteria can’t necessarily survive. It will be interesting.”
Emily Jade said she washed her tea towels daily, Flan washed his every couple of days, and Christo washed his once a week.
The tea towels were taken to a lab at Griffith University, cut up into 2cm squares, the squares were then rolled on to agar plates, which is a food source for bacteria – thankfully none of the tea towels revealed any presence of faecal matter, but they did grow a range of other bacteria.
Professor Anne Roiko from Griffith’s School of Medicine appeared in the studio a few days later to deliver the results to the presenters – Emily Jade’s was the cleanest, Flan’s was second cleanest, but Christo’s was riddled with bacteria.
“Christo’s bacteria were so high we couldn’t even count them. All we did was rub your tea towel for 10 seconds on the agar and cook it for 24 hours, and all these spots of bacteria appeared,” Professor Roiko said.
“All the tea towels grew bacteria, and that’s the important thing – you can’t keep tea towels clean. The minute you start wiping things with them they’re going to start attracting bacteria.”
Professor Roiko said recent research from the US found ecoli and other harmful bacteria on tea towels.
“The key thing to do is keep your hand towels and tea towels separate – use your hand towels for wiping your hands and leave your tea towels for drying the dishes,” she said.
“But just washing them is not enough. Really hot water and a bit of bleach, then putting them in the sun to dry will kill some of the bugs.”