Which item in your home is the most germ-infested? No, it's not the keyboard

 Germ alert: Towels tend to retain moisture, thus allowing bacteria to survive. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Germ alert: Towels tend to retain moisture, thus allowing bacteria to survive. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

ARIZONA - There have been reports on the germs that lurk on our mobile phones, keyboards and door handles.

Now, a study says the most germ-infested item in your home is one that you use to wipe your hands and body - the towel.

A May 2014 University of Arizona study funded by Kimberly-Clark Corporation found that 89 per cent of kitchen rags carried coliform bacteria, which is found in both animal and human digestive tracts.

While most forms of the bacteria are not harmful, it is used as a hygiene indicator.

Twenty-five per cent of the towels tested positive for E. coli, one type of coliform bacteria

Study author Charles Gerba, a professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, told ABC News that towels tend to retain moisture, thus allowing bacteria to survive.

They are also used in the kitchen and the bathroom - the most germ-ridden places in the house.

"You can cross contaminate food when you wipe your hands on a towel and then contaminate other foods or bring your hands to your mouth and infect yourself," Dr Gerba said in the US report. "With face and bath towels, you may spread bacteria and viruses among family members who use the same towels."

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a hygiene expert from the University of Salford, told British site MailOnline that towels need to be washed at least once a week, and should always be dried. Wash them at high temperature, or with bleach, she advised.

"Put them on the towel rail to dry so they don't fester while they wait to be washed." Dr Ackerley said.

ABC suggested that vinegar can be used in place of fabric softener to strip away odours and keep towels absorbent.

Kimberly-Clark, which funded the study, manufactures paper towels and disinfectants, among other health and hygiene products.

Earlier studies have found that keyboards and mobile devices harbour more bacteria than a toilet.