Don't sterilise dish cloths in microwave, warn fire chiefs

FIRE chiefs have warned against sterilising dish cloths in microwaves after two people set fire to their kitchens.

One blaze broke out in Telford, Shropshire, after a man followed advice from US scientists and a woman in Middlesbrough also wrecked her kitchen.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said the man put the cloth in on full power in a bid to kill bugs. She said: "Our advice is please don't do it, it is dangerous."

Cleveland Fire Brigade crews put out a blaze on Wednesday night at a house in the Marton Grove area of Middlesbrough after the woman's dishcloth caught fire.

Mark Whelan, director of operations and community safety, said: "Attempting to sterilise a dishcloth in this way is extremely dangerous.

"There are too many variable factors such as the capacity and power of the microwave oven or the moisture content of the dishcloth or sponge."

Scientists in America found that putting a household sponge in a microwave for two minutes killed more than 99 per cent of the harmful bacteria which caused illness.

The experts from the University of Florida discovered that a short blast in the microwave killed a range of bugs including E.coli and salmonella.

Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering at the university, said using a microwave was much more effective than putting a cloth in a dishwasher, a common trend among householders.