Total bacterial counts of the milk from individual cows were measured for three groups of ten winter housed cows at three milkings. The teats were either (i) left unwashed or (ii) washed with disinfected water (60 ppm available iodine) and dried with individual paper towels or (iii) washed with plain water and then dried with a single fabric cloth impregnated with a polymeric bisguanide and a quaternary ammonium compound. The mean total bacterial counts/ml for the groups were 5820, 2108 and 1116 respectively. Treatments (ii) and (iii) were also compared for their ability to prevent the inter-teat transfer of bacteria. Before teat washing and drying, one teat of each cow was deliberately contaminated with Streptococcus agalactiae. Significantly fewer teats (5/30) became contaminated with Str. agalactiae when treatment (iii) was used for teat washing and drying compared with treatment (ii) (20/30).