Damp Towels Could be Affecting Your Somatic Cell Count

Wyatt Bechtel ( There is more to milking efficiency than proper equipment function. )

Have you ever forgotten to switch the laundry over from the washing machine to the dryer? If so, you may have been greeted by a funky smell once you remembered. 

But if the towels were washed in soap, what could be causing that stinky aroma? Bacteria.

According to Time Magazine, towels are great bacteria traps because every time they are used, bacteria and other germs are transferred onto their surface.

“Inappropriate cloth towel management can lead to increased somatic cell counts, clinical mastitis cases, total bacteria counts, treatment costs, and reduced milk production,” says Daniela Bruno, a dairy advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension, in a recent California Dairy Newsletter. “Bottom line: use of damp cloth towels can transmit mastitis-causing pathogens which in turn affects milk quality and jeopardizes milk premiums.”

Towels offer the perfect environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow because they’re often damp, warm, absorbent and stored in dark places.

“Whether using a laundering service or washing the towels in-house, cloth udder prep towels should be clean, sanitized and most importantly dried with heat,” Bruno says. “Several labs are set up to culture udder prep towels. If you’re having issues in the parlor, testing towels may be advisable.”

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