Best practice routines with dairy towels

Dairy towels are crucial for good udder health. However, worn towels and washing at too low temperatures quickly transform expert teat drying into a source for spreading infections.

One towel per cow is basic knowledge in most milking parlors. But perhaps less attention is paid to which kind of towel is used. If certain guidelines are not followed, you risk that the towels are teeming with bacteria.

Wash the towels efficiently

Both good old-fashioned cotton towels as well as microfiber towels work really well. However, it is important to wash them properly. At some farms, the washing machine is unfortunately overloaded with towels, however, that does not get them clean. You could place some red tape in the center of the door of the washing machine to indicate the limit of one load.

The washing temperature is also crucial. It must be above 90 ºC to make sure that all bacteria are killed. You can check that the machine washes at the temperature indicated by using a washing strip.

It is also important to use the correct amount of laundry detergent – and not least to use laundry detergent with every wash. In some cases, the laundry detergent is only applied to the first wash of the day. But it does not pay to save on the soap. Make sure that all employees know the right dosage. You can make a SOP (procedure description) for washing towels and hang it above the washing machine.

Replace the towels regularly

It is important to replace the towels on a regular basis. Worn and see-through cloths do not dry properly. Instead, the gloves are doing the drying of the udder – which guaranties the spread of infections.

Use a good-quality washing machine

Washing machines designed for washing towels are preferable, but a well-functioning household washing machine can be used if you follow the given procedures.

Make an own control program

To ensure that the towels are both clean and whole, make an own control program:

  • Replace all towels regularly. Replace all towels at a certain interval of for example 6 months.
  • Check the washing machine regularly. Make sure that the setting at 90 ºC really does wash at 90 ºC. Maybe you could order a service check.
  • Make a SOP for washing towels to make sure that everyone is familiar with both temperature and dosage.
  • Provide clean buckets for the towels. Clean towels in a dirty bucket puts us back to square one.

Disposable paper towels also work well

Disposable paper towels also work really well for drying off teats. With paper towels you are sure to always use a clean towel. Furthermore, using paper towels saves you the costs for soap, water and power for the washing machine. On the other hand, when using paper towels, it is absolutely crucial that you pre-dip or spray with a foam that dissolves dirt on the teats. This is due to the fact that dry paper on dry teats does not result in clean teats.

Purchase washing strips for checking the washing temperature

Fast acting self-adhesive temperature indicators. They change color from white to black when the temperature reaches a certain level. The color change is used as an indicator of the quality of the wash. The strips are used for example in washing tubs or for checking washing machines.

One sheet with 5 strips including instructions and postage is 100 DKK. Order via this pdf form.

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