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The ten most frequently asked questions

about using cloth dairy towels . . .

1. Does the change from paper to cloth require a big investment?

Not really. The original out-of-pocket cost is a trade-off. Using a 100 cow herd milking 2X a day as an example, the cost of one paper towel per cow, per milking, would be about $90 a month. That’s the same cost as our 25 lb. box of approximately 400 recycled SANI-SURE cloth towels.

2. How can we "try" the cloth towels without investing in a washer and dryer right away?

When trying SANI-SURE towels for the first time, many of our customers wash and dry the towels in the house for the first month before buying a washer and dryer for the barn. It is literally a "free trial" because the cost of the cloth towels is the same as the cost of one month of paper towels.

3. How about the eventual cost of a washer and dryer?

Actually, if that same 100 cow herd bought a new basic washer and dryer pair for $600 and could finance it at $50 a month for a year, there would be almost no out-of pocket costs for switching to cloth towels. After the cost of towels and soap, they would be saving about $50 a month over their previous cost of paper towels. That first year they would just be making a washer/dryer payment instead of a "paper towel payment". After that…bottom line for that 100 cow herd would be $600 savings every year just from switching to SANI-SURE cloth towels.

4. Doesn’t washing and drying towels take a lot of time?

No. Instead of dumping paper waste into trash cans or a dumpster, cloth towels are simply put into a washer with a measure of soap and you push a button. If you have to bring your trash to the dump, or even the curb, every week, you actually may be saving a lot of time by not handling all those trash cans.

5. Why does a SANI-SURE cloth towel clean better than a paper towel?

Despite ones best efforts to keep stalls and cow lots clean, some cows are going to lay in manure or mud. In rainy seasons the problem gets worse. Paper towels and wipes, which are thin and smooth, just cannot clean and hold this kind of dirt--they are more likely to just smear it around. The nap on turkish style towels like SANI-SURE, has the ability to grab and hold any solid particles wiped from the udder. Turkish towels also have more ability to absorb liquid, so do a better job of drying, especially when the udder is dirty.

6. How about drying and storing and keeping the cloth towels organized?

It’s very simple and adds less than five minutes to milk house chores. In the washing area you have a 30-40 gallon plastic barrel to store the clean towels that come out of the dryer. After each milking you bring the container of used towels and the container for clean towels back to the washing area. You fill the empty container with clean towels for the next milking and empty the dryer into the storage barrel. Then you put the wet towels from the previous milking into the dryer and set it off, and put the used towels into the washer and set it off. That's all there is to it. Large herds will probably want to use rolling industrial bins and have another bin to keep surplus used towels until they’re all washed. They will have to repeat the wash and dry step two or more times. Usually 100-120 washcloth size towels is a full washer load, unless you have industrial-size appliances.

7. What size towel works the best?

It is stressed by universities and dairy scientists to dry only one cow per towel in order to prevent cross-contamination. Therefore we think the washcloth size is most efficient. It handles easily and is big enough to do a good job without creating unnecessary bulk in the washer and dryer. SANI-SURE towels are approximately 12" x12" with finished edges.

8. Why are SANI-SURE towels sold by the pound? How many do you get?

In order to give the best value to our customers, SANI-SURE towels are made of recycled turkish toweling which varies in its thread count and weight. Therefore we tell customers that they will get approximately 425 to 800 towels to a 50 lb. box, depending on the style they purchase which determines the weight and thickness of the individual towels.  See our Style Comparison Sheet for details.

9. Is normal laundering sufficient to kill the pathogens that cause mastitis?

Washington State University did a laundering study on cloth towels used for udder prep. According to their research, use a good soap. Then, in addition, use any one of the following laundering practices -- hot water, bleach or forced hot-air drying (dryer). This will sufficiently clean and disinfect cloth dairy towels. We recommend using both hot water and drying in a dryer. We do not recommend using chlorine bleach, or if you do, to use only a minimal amount, because it tends to shorten the life of any fabric with regular use.

10. How long will a box of SANI-SURE towels last?

We usually tell customers that, on the average, a towel should get a minimum of 100 uses, but that it will vary by the thread count and weight of the towel. The life of a towel also depends on the user. If you routinely use bleach, or use the towels for shop rags, cleaning, or other chores, this will shorten the life of the towels compared to if you didn’t engage in those practices. We have conducted several studies over the years with our customers and the average number reported has been between 225 and 350 uses per towel.  Several customers have also reported that when towels are too worn out for udder prep, they recycle them into shop rags before they throw them away.


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Sani-Sure Systems 2013

a division of Northwest Environmental Systems, Inc. 

3420 Marvel Drive    Oshkosh, WI 54902
Phone: 800-236-7080 or 920-235-7808    Fax: 920-235-3049


This page updated on 06-30-2013