Good health starts with good hygiene practices. Many of these everyday items are not our first thought when we think of germs, but if you know it’s there, you can do more to protect yourself from illness–causing pathogens. Promote healthy living by keeping your immune system strong with nutritious food and regular exercise, and by washing your hands often (especially after touching or using any of these germy everyday items).
Cash is notoriously germy and can carry potential pathogens like E. Coli, Staph bacteria, and salmonella.1 While you won’t get sick just from touching it, you can get sick if you eat or if you touch your nose or mouth before washing your hands.
Be truthful with yourself for just a minute. Has your phone accompanied you to the bathroom even once? Even if it hasn’t, research has found that phones carry tons of bacteria, including the kind that cause strep throat, the flu, and yeast infections.2 It’s a good idea to sanitize your phone regularly! You can use an alcohol-based wipe or a cotton ball with a light coating of rubbing alcohol.
Your Purse, Backpack, or Wallet
These items go everywhere with you. Your purse or backpack will often go to the bathroom with you, get set on the floor, and carry germy items like your phone and cash. Your wallet is no exception, especially if you carry it in your pocket where the warmth and humidity created by your body provides the right environment for bacterial growth.
Every time you purchase something and use a pin pad or other electronic check-out device, you are touching something that hundreds of others have touched too. They aren’t sanitized between each guest, so we’re not surprised at the research that states there are as many bacteria on pin pads as there are on toilet seats!3
When you get home and just want to wind down with some of your favorite shows, you may want to consider what’s living on your remote control. When was the last time you wiped it down? If you’ve ever munched on snacks while watching T.V., you may have grabbed the remote to turn down the volume or changed the channel when your hands weren’t exactly clean. We all know what loves to live on sticky, oily, food–covered surfaces.
The Gasoline Pump
The gas pump is packed with germs, probably because they’re never or rarely cleaned! A study by the University of Arizona found astoundingly high numbers of microbes on gas pump handles. 71% of the inspected handles had microbes associated with illness and disease.4
Refrigerator and Microwave Doors
For the same reason you want to clean other surfaces that come into contact with food, you’ll want to clean your refrigerator and microwave doors. Not only are they commonly touched, but you may be touching them when you’re in the middle of food prep. Washing your hands before you eat is a good way to keep bacteria that was on your hands from entering your body. Follow the same principle for the surfaces you touch just before you eat.
Air dryers in public restrooms circulate the bacteria in the air and deposit it on your freshly washed hands. According to Healthline, the bacteria doesn’t come from within the air dryer itself. The movement of air essentially collects the free–floating bacteria5 (which is already going to be more plentiful in a public space). Your best bet is to dry with paper towels. Fortunately, more and more tree-free products are hitting the market, so you don’t have to feel too guilty.
Because it’s so close to the toilet, your toothbrush holder can be teaming with bacteria. One flush can unleash feces–containing aerosols6 from the toilet and release them into the bathroom where they can land on anything. Considering it holds a brush that goes in your mouth, try sanitizing it by popping it in the dishwasher (if it’s dishwasher safe) or washing it with hot soapy water.
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