We generally choose clean tables while eating at shopping malls. A new study has revealed that a freshly cleaned table could harbour more bacteria than the dirty one.
The study found food trays, high chairs, toilets and even tables in shopping complexes often contain more germs after they have been cleaned.
Once a filthy surface has been wiped down, the average surface bacteria count increases an average of 18 times or 1,827 per cent, tests carried out by the cleaner's union, United Voice, found.
The union said the study of seven anonymous NSW shopping centres proved inadequate cleaning budgets and insufficient equipment was causing a threat to public hygiene.
The cleaner's kit of sponges, wipes, buckets and sanitizing fluids were all found to be reservoirs for harbouring and probably spreading contamination.
Surprisingly, toilet seats came out on top for cleanliness, with 43 per cent of surfaces increasing their bacteria count after cleaning.
Table tops were rated the worst, with an increase in bacteria count after cleaning for 86 per cent of surfaces.
Head of United Voice, Louise Tarrant, said the research showed an urgent need for the introduction of shopping centre cleanliness standards.
There are currently no Australian standards for how clean a surface must be after cleaning.
"We need to ensure that there is proper staff and equipment to clean centres. Otherwise shopping centres are risking the health and safety of children and families across Australia,'' the Daily Telegraph quoted Tarrant as saying.
The audit also found over 25 per cent of tested surfaces showed visible soiling and contamination after cleaning.
Testing company Getex said inadequate sponges, wipes and physical action during cleaning may be contributing to the spread of bacteria.
"The cleaning materials which come into contact with the surfaces during cleaning are a reservoir for bacterial contamination,'' the report said.
"This may be due to inadequate rinsing of cleaning sponges/wipes during cleaning, the use of overly contaminated liquid to rinse cleaning sponges and/or the use of inadequate concentration of cleaning detergents or sanitisers," it added.