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The Germiest Surfaces You Touch
Posted: Feb 6th, 2020 at 06:20PM
People go to great lengths to avoid catching infections from those who are sick. However, what they don't know is that many illness-causing germs live right on their everyday items. Your home and personal belongings are a breeding ground for different bacteria. To help you learn more, here are 10 of the germiest surfaces you touch every day. You might be surprised just how common these items are.
The 10 Germiest Surfaces You're Touching Every Single Day
1. Dish Sponges and Rags
Though they're supposed to keep items clean, sponges and rags are thriving locations for bacteria because they remain wet and moist. In the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) study, 86% of these had molds and yeast, 77% housed coliform (a bacteria family that includes Salmonella and E. coli), and 18% contained staph bacteria.
To avoid getting sick with various infections, make sure you microwave your sponges and toss your rags in the washer. Replace them at regular intervals and when you're done using them, be sure to wash your hands.
2. Coffee Makers
"It flushes hot water through it," you're thinking. "That has to kill any bacteria that might grow, right?" No!
The coffee maker's reservoir is dark and damp, making it a prime location for bacteria, mold, and mildew to grow. According to NSF, 50% of reservoirs swabbed for the study had mold and yeast, and 9% had coliform. If not cleaned properly, your coffee maker remains a perfect breeding place for germs and microorganisms.
3. Bathroom Doorknobs
You might chuckle at those people who pull their sleeve over their hand before touching a doorknob, but they're probably onto something.
CBS News shares new research that shows how one doorknob can spread germs. The investigators applied virus samples on a particular knob and found that after a few hours, they had been picked up by 40-60% of the people in the building and could be detected on other commonly touched items. In the NSF study, 5% of the tested doorknobs had coliform and staph while 14% had molds and yeast.
Remember, practicing basic hygiene is often your best defense. If you can avoid touching surfaces with your hands, do so. Wash regularly, and refrain from touching your face.
4. Faucet Handles
It's ironic that something we use to clean our hands can be this dirty, but it's true.
You can't wash your hands without turning on the faucet. And when you do, the dirt and germs you were trying to clean off get transferred to the handle. As NSF accounts, 27% of faucet handles have yeast and mold and 9% contain coliform, so it's essential to clean these every day with disinfectant spray or wipes.
Most keys are made of brass, thus having natural antibacterial protection. But with what keys go through in a day – left at the bottom of bags, kept inside pockets, passed on from one person to another – they become active real estate for germs. In fact, NSF reports that 5% of the swabbed keys had coliform and 9% had yeast, mold, and staph.
It might seem tedious, but consider wiping them down once or twice a week. There are also gadgets you can purchase that will sanitize them for you.
People never go anywhere without their cell phones. We even take them to the bathroom!
That's why it's no surprise that, on average, phones house about 25,127 bacteria per square inch. In a report by USA Today, multiple studies conclude that phones are breeding grounds for germs because they're touched most often and cleaned the least. They're also the perfect agency to transfer microorganisms between your fingers, face, and other items you hold.
While rubbing alcohol might be a no-go, equal parts water and white vinegar could do the trick.
7. Toothbrush and Toothbrush Holder
Since they're often positioned near the toilet, toothbrushes and their holders easily catch the particles sprayed through the air when you flush. As NSF noted in their study, 64% of toothbrush holders contained mold and yeast, 27% contained coliform and 14% contained staph. That's why it's best to close your toilet before you flush and to keep your brushes and holders far from the toilet.
Bags often get left on the floor, kept on top of desks, or hung on restroom handles, which by themselves are germ-filled locations. Add to that the dirty tissues, loose change, keys, phones, and other items you keep in it. Bags can look dirty on the outside, but it's the contents inside that make them one of the worst breeding grounds for bacteria.
Many bags can be tossed right in the washing machine. If that's not an option, at the very least, you should be able to wipe them down with some sort of disinfecting agent.
9. Headphones and Earbuds
These gadgets cover up the exit point of the ear wax and trap in heat and moisture, making the bacteria thrive. That's why using them for just one hour already captures microorganisms from the ear. Likewise, they're often left on desks and in bags where they can easily pick up germs and cause an 11-fold increase in bacteria in the ear.
If it goes over or in your ears, then it needs to be disinfected.
10. TV Remotes
TV remotes might come in contact with several different hands in a single day. They fall on the floor, rest under couch pillows, get stepped on, and easily collect dust. Add in the bacteria from food particles, coughing and colds, or just small sneezes. Worst of all, they don't get cleaned often.
Thus, according to the researchers at the University of Virginia, remote controls host a lot of germs and viruses and can pass on a cold with just one push of a button.
No matter how often you clean your home and personal items, it's challenging to monitor how dirty and germ-infested these items and surfaces can be. The best thing you can do for yourself, your family, and those around you, aside from cleaning these items regularly, is to stay updated with your vaccines. It's like killing two birds with one stone – getting vaccinated helps protect you from illness-causing bacteria and prevents you from spreading germs.
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