By SUE MULLER, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) Most people use towels to wipe down surfaces, not to wash dishes.
But paper towels and folding towels are among the best products for wiping down your car, home or office, a new study says.
The results of the research were published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
It’s the latest in a string of studies that have found the benefits of paper towels outweigh their risks, though researchers cautioned they don’t know for sure.
In the study, researchers compared the safety of towels versus paper towels at the most common settings for washing dishes, including kitchen cabinets, car doors, and counters.
They also compared towels with paper towels, which are used for washing cars, for cars that have a lot of scrap metal, for people with heart problems and for those who have asthma.
The study also looked at how long paper towels soak in a dishwasher.
A typical paper towel soaked in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes.
But if it was dipped in 1 teaspoon of water, that paper towel would soak for 15 minutes.
In a second soak, the paper towel absorbed just as much water, but the soak took only about 15 minutes longer.
The researchers say their study doesn’t provide conclusive evidence that towels are safe for washing car doors or for washing your home, but it’s consistent with a study by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1990s that found that washing towels with detergent or soap didn’t decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that is released when a paper towel is rinsed.
A paper towel has more surface area than a traditional towel, but that surface area doesn’t absorb as much carbon dioxide.
The EPA found that in a typical wash cycle, a paper towels’ carbon dioxide content was less than 10 parts per million (ppm) in most cases.
That’s less than the amount in a traditional paper towel.
It also makes the towels more efficient at removing oil, and that’s what the EPA says helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The paper towels in the study soaked for about 15 seconds longer than a typical paper towels.
They were used at all wash cycles, from dryer to dryer, for up to 8 hours, and in a variety of situations, including washing dishes and disheslides.
They weren’t tested on human skin.
The research team, led by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, looked at more than 5,000 towels and paper towels for the study.
They tested each towel individually to make sure it absorbed the most carbon dioxide, and then compared them to each other for safety and efficiency.
The team tested towels for absorbency and cleaning characteristics.
For paper towels the researchers found they had the best absorbency for cleaning surfaces, with paper towel absorbency as high as 86 percent and paper towel efficiency as high at 95 percent.
For car doors the researchers had the worst paper towel capacity, with absorbency of only 48 percent and efficiency of just 28 percent.
The group also found that the paper towels that were washed in the most efficient method — one that uses detergent — were the most absorbent.
The absorbency was the same for the paper and the towels in this study.
The most absorbant towels also had the highest carbon dioxide concentrations, with the paper having about 3 percent more than the towels.
The towels that did the least well had the most paper towel content and the worst efficiency.
For those who were at risk for getting sick from a leaky roof, the best paper towels were also the least absorbent and the most inefficient.
But for people at least somewhat at risk, the researchers say, the results indicate paper towels may be the safest products to use for washing towels.
“I’m very pleased with the results,” said Roberta L. Drennan, who was an environmental health researcher at the time the paper was published.
“They showed that paper towels have a much higher capacity for cleaning than most towels.
I think that’s a very important message.”
Drenna, now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, says the results are important for all of us to remember: The water in the towels absorbs carbon dioxide more efficiently.
But it’s not the carbon dioxide the paper absorbs that is important.
It is the amount absorbed that makes the paper more absorbent, she said.