These household appliances are often infested with resistant bacteria

These household appliances are often infested with resistant bacteria

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What is the bacterial load in washing machines and dishwashers?

Dangerous germs often lurk in your own household. For example, sponges and wiping rags that are used over a longer period of time can form real spins. In a current study at the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences, washing machines and dishwashers from private households have now been examined for antibiotic-resistant germs.

Germs from washing machines and dishwashers do not pose an immediate health hazard, but “you have to do something for them,” according to the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences. In cooperation with the medical supply center Dr. Stein and colleagues from Mönchengladbach, the scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences tested the household appliances for antibiotic-resistant germs. According to the researchers, a risk can arise, for example, if only low-temperature programs are used.

No MRSA colonization was found

According to the scientists, in addition to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains (MRSA), so-called beta-lactamases (enzymes formed by bacteria) were also in the focus of the study. These enzymes pose a problem because they destroy various antibiotics such as penicillins or carbapenems and can make them ineffective. Fortunately, according to the researchers, no MRSA was detectable in the washing machines and dishwashers. However, colonization with beta-lactamase-forming microorganisms was found in the household appliances more frequently than expected.

Beta-lactamases in a large part of household appliances

According to the researchers, around 96 percent of the dishwashers and 79 percent of the devices examined were affected by the colonization with beta-lactamases. To what extent the washing processes affect the resistant germs, the scientists investigated in a further step, in which they added cotton test substance samples with non-resistant and resistant bacterial strains to the devices. These were washed both with and without activated oxygen bleaching and at temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees Celsius.

At higher temperatures, almost all germs are killed

The evaluation of the test washes showed that at higher temperatures the contamination by the germs was almost 100 percent removed - both with the resistant pathogens and with the usual germs. In general, however, the reduction in resistant bacteria was somewhat lower, the researchers report. "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can withstand the usual washing conditions better than non-resistant strains, but higher temperatures and the use of detergents with oxygen bleach can safely remove even these germs," ​​says Professor Dr. Dirk Bockmühl, professor of hygiene and microbiology at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences and head of the study.

Recommended at least 40 degrees Celsius

"The results in no way suggest a direct health hazard from the household appliances, but it makes sense to clean washing machines and dishwashers regularly and not to use only low-temperature programs," emphasizes Professor Bockmühl. Especially in households with infants or relatives in need of care, it is also advisable to regularly use washing programs of at least 40 degrees Celsius in combination with powdered or pearl-shaped detergents in the washing machine.

Dishwasher the best choice from a hygiene point of view

According to the researchers, almost all of the programs used in dishwashers offer reliable protection against germs. Especially when hygienically critical foods such as raw meat have been prepared, the dishwasher is the best choice for dishes and cutlery that has come into contact with these foods, says Prof. Bockmühl. (fp)

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