21 Hidden “Hot Spots” For Germs

germ hot spots Lately it seems like everywhere I turn there is someone offering to give me a flu shot!  It’s been a sobering reminder of what the winter season most likely has in store for us. It’s also inspired me to look into some ways (besides getting a flu shot!) that we can do to AVOID colds and flu this year.

After a lot of looking…I am convinced that the VERY best way to prevent colds and flu is to keep away from germs where you are most likely to pick them up. So I proceeded to put together a list of germ “hot spots” to avoid.

Of course we can’t avoid touching most of the items mentioned in the list below….(most Americans touch about 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes)….but I think a little common sense and attention to what you’re coming in contact with can go a long way in helping protect you and your family.

Here are some of the most common germ “hot spots” taken from several different scientific studies (listed below):

germ hot spots

Cutting Board

There are 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than a toilet seat. The reason? Many people rinse off their cutting board rather than thoroughly washing it.

Recommendation

Prepare a solution of a quart of water and “a jigger of bleach” and wipe down food preparation surfaces before making anything on those areas of the kitchen.

 

 

germ hot spots

Buttons

These innocuous-looking offenders are found on ATMs, elevators, telephones and drink machines, among other things, and are often located in areas that are not cleaned and disinfected regularly.  First-floor buttons in elevators were the dirtiest because EVERYONE needs to go to the first floor. And these germs get transferred to the body part that comes in contact with faces the most — fingers and hands.

Recommendation:  

Use your knuckle or wait for someone else to push it for you.

 

 

germ hot spots

Car Dashboard

Dashboards are one of the most germ-laden locations in a car because it is one of the warmest places and has ventilation systems on either side that can aerate spores, blowing them out among unsuspecting passengers. Because the dashboard receives the most sun and tends to stay warm, it’s prime for growth.

In addition to the dashboard….other car interior “hot spots” include: change holders, cup holders and children’s car seats.

Recommendation:

Regularly wipe down the inside of your car with disinfecting wipes. Be more vigilant during allergy season.

 

 

germ hot spots

Airplane Bathroom

Airplane bathrooms get cleaned, but the high volume of people they must cater to in a short amount of time leaves them very dirty very quickly.  Many people, will not wash their hands effectively because the sink is small, and dirty hands transfer germs to the face easily.

Recommendation:

Treat all airplane bathroom surfaces as if they are radioactive! Keep the lid closed when flushing, use a paper towel to handle lid, faucets and door handles after washing hands, then use hand sanitizer once back at your seat as an extra precaution.

 

germ hot spots

Cell Phone

The phone provides a convenient meeting place for two different sources of germs — your hands and your mouth. Several studies show they carry tons of bacteria, including staph (which can cause skin infections), pseudomonas (eye infections), and salmonella (stomach ailments). Many electronic devices are in leather or vinyl cases, which provide plenty of creases and crevices for germs to hide.

Recommendation:

Use a disinfecting wipe a few times a week, and be conscious of where you rest personal items.

 

 

germ hot spots

Handbags, Backpacks

Handbags & backpacks are often place on the floors of restaurants, subway floors, bathroom stalls, etc. Such places can be highly infected with bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli, which can easily adhere to the bottom of bags and can spread easily to other places where you put the bag like dining room table or the kitchen counter.

Recommendation:

Put your purse or backpack on a bench or a seat. Or, even better, hang the bag off the floor. If possible, wash and wipe your bag with soap and warm water regularly to get rid of germs.

germ hot spots

Wallets

Paper currency has a way of getting around, from germ-filled hand to germ-filled hand. It picks up germs, viruses and often trace amounts of illegal drugs, and all of that ends up in your wallet. Flu virus strains can be potent on bank notes for 10 to 17 days. Because men keep wallets in their pockets, the wallet is close to body temperature — an ideal temperature for bacteria to breed.

Recommendation:

After handling the contents of your wallet, wash your hands with soap or use an alcohol based solution after every transaction.

 

 

germ hot spots

 

Laundry Machines

In the laundry room, your average load of wash contains more than coffee stains. It can be packed with bacteria such as e. coli from clothing, towels and linens.

Recommendation:

If you have to wash at lower temperatures, add a laundry disinfectant. Wash your hands after loading the washing machine, since bacteria and fungi build up on damp items. Avoid using the same sorting tables for clean and dirty laundry since the E. coli from the dirty clothes will transfer to the table and then back onto your freshly laundered clothes.

 

 

germ hot spots

Kitchen Faucet

The metal aeration screen at the end of the faucet is a bacteria magnet. Running water keeps it moist, an ideal condition for bacteria growth. Because tap water is far from sterile, if you accidentally touch the screen with dirty fingers or food, bacteria can grow on the faucet.

Recommendation:

Once a week, remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution. Replace the screen, and let the water run a few minutes before using.

 

germ hot spots

Garbage Disposal

The kitchen sink has about 1,000 times more bacteria growing in it than the average toilet! Bacteria loves to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber stopper, contaminating whatever touches it—dishes, utensils, even your hands.

Recommendation:

At least once a week, clean the disposal’s rubber stopper with a diluted bleach solution—soap and water aren’t enough.

 

 

germ hot spots

Welcome Mat

The area near your front door is one of the dirtiest in the house, and once bacteria is growing in your mat, anytime you walk on it, it has a free ride into your home.

Recommendation:

Spray the doormat once a week with a disinfectant. Leave shoes at the door, and avoid resting bags and groceries on the mat, too.

 

germ hot spots

Vacuum Cleaner

Your vacuum sucks in all kinds of bacteria and food, creating an atmosphere for growth. Each time you use the appliance you could be spreading that bacteria around the house.

Recommendation:

Change your vacuum bag frequently OUTDOORS to avoid the cloud of bacteria that filters into the air. Clean the cavity of a bagless vacuum with diluted bleach and let it air-dry. Spray the brush with a disinfectant after every use—traces of bacteria can survive as long as 5 days inside the vacuum after you empty the dirt.

 

germ hot spots

Dish Towel

Did you know your dish towels can harbor just as many nasty germs as your sponge?  A recent study of hundreds of homes across the United States found dish towels were contaminated with staph bacteria, dangerous strains of E. coli, and other bacteria. We often use towels to wipe up spills then reuse before washing them, which spreads germs.

Recommendation:

Stick to paper towels to clean countertops, and save the dishrag to dry just-washed pots and plates. Change towels or launder at least twice a week in hot water and bleach.

 

germ hot spots

Soap Dispensers

Ironically, most soap containers are never cleaned so bacteria grows as the soap scum builds up. Plus, the bottom of the dispensers are constantly being touched by dirty hands, feeding millions of bacteria.

Recommendation:

Scrub hands thoroughly for 15 to 20 seconds with plenty of hot water—and, if you have it, use a hand sanitizer too.

 

 

germ hot spots

Restaurant Ketchup Bottle

It’s rare that restaurants regularly bleach down their tabletop condiment containers, and the reality is that many people don’t wash their hands before eating. So while you may be diligent, the guy (or gal) before you may not have been.

Recommendation:

Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Unfortunately, holding the bottle with a napkin won’t help because they are porous.

 

 

germ hot spots

Refrigerator Seal

Even if you scrub the inside of your fridge…it may not be enough. A University of Arizona survey of 160 homes in three US cities found that the seal around the fridge tested positive 83% of the time for common molds. The mold can spread every time the refrigerator door opens—exposing anyone who’s susceptible to allergies and potentially contaminating the food.

Recommendation:

Wipe fridge seals at least once a week with a diluted bleach solution or disinfectant.

 

germ hot spots

Makeup Testers in the Mall

Free make up testers are tried on many people who come in the mall for shopping. Makeup like lipstick and mascara contain bacteria like E.coli and Staphylococcus, which crawl on the outer casing of these testers. Mascara and eye pencils can lead to pink eye.

Recommendation:

The safest way to stay away from these diseases is to avoid using the testers. Try a new lipstick shade on the back of your hand and do not forget to wash it after testing.

 

 

germ hot spots

Gym Equipment

Equipment in the gym provide a perfect environment for bacteria, fungus and viruses to thrive. Studies show that weight equipment is contaminated significantly more often than aerobic equipment, and disinfecting the equipment twice a day didn’t do anything to lower the virus count.

Recommendation:

When you use a machine, completely bandage all your open wounds to avoid infection; avoid touching your face between sets, and make sure to pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your gym bag.

 

 

germ hot spots

 

Your Shower Curtain

The soap scum hanging out on your curtain is more than just unsightly….vinyl shower curtains are microbe meccas. Plus, the force of the shower spray will make germs take flight.

Recommendation: 

Hang a fabric shower curtain. It will still harbor bacteria, but it’s much easier to clean. Just toss it in the washer, and use the hottest water the fabric can handle.

 

 

germ hot spots

The Lemon Wedge in Your Drink

In a study from the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70 percent of the lemon wedges smashed onto restaurant glasses contained disease-causing microbes. Researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, securing 76 lemons. Testing revealed 25 different microorganisms lingering on the lemons, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria.

Recommendation:

Tell the waiter you prefer your drink without fruit. Why risk it?

 

 

germ hot spots

Your Bed

More than 84 percent of beds in U.S. homes host dust mites. These microscopic critters live in your sheets and feed on your dead skin, and their fecal matter and corpses contribute to asthma and allergies.

Recommendation:

Don’t make your bed. A made bed traps the moisture dust mites need to thrive. Try bundling a dehumidifier with an oscillating fan for a two-pronged moisture eliminator.

 

How do you protect yourself from germs?

 

  • 2010 study conducted by the Hygiene Council, “Hygiene Home Truths”.
  • 2011, NSF International “Germiest Places in the Home” study.
  • “Germs in the Workplace Study”, University of Arizona, Dr. Charles Gerba.
  • Kimberly-Clark Professional, The Healthy Workplace Project, May 2012
  • Study presented at an American Society for Microbiology, lead researcher Katie Kirsch, University of Houston, June 2012.
  • The “5-second Rule” is a Myth, Paul Dawson, PhD, professor of food science at Clemson University.

 




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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Jillee,
    Of course it is important to keep an eye onto those dirty spots you mention. But doesn’t living completely germ-free make our immune system weak? As long as it has something to fight against, it keeps active. And that keeps us healthy. Additionally I must say I got asthma by spraying disinfectant and accidentally breathing the spray in while cleaning surfaces..
    Be careful folks.
    xoxo
    BTW Though I do not comment often, I looove your blog! So many cool ideas and DIY tipps.. Thank you so much!

    • Mel says

      There are many doctors/scientists who say it was because of our efforts to be completely germ free that caused the super bugs we see now (just think of MRSA ….. scarey-yucky!). So, on one hand, we don’t want to be too paranoid, but we do have to admit those superbugs are around us and we need to be cautious. By the way, you don’t have to use spray disinfectants (such as Lysol). Lysol is good and kills the those nasty little microscopic bugs, but there are other things that do the job as well such as spray bottle of germicidal bleach and water, or essential oils (which Jillee writes about sometimes).

  2. says

    I must say, the lemon wedge testing creeped me out, but I do try to not go overboard on the disinfecting in order to keep some bacteria around for proper health. However, I DO just hate getting sick, so I do find I wipe down the handles on the grocery/shopping carts at the stores, and the basics of washing hands when handling food before and after, and after using the loo and changing diapers. I’m a big proponent of plain old fashioned soap and water.

  3. Georgann G says

    It’s nearly impossible to avoid germy spots. Instead, WASH YOUR HANDS. Frequently, with soap and water!
    Waterless, hand santizer is ok, but water and soap is better. This is the best way to avoid colds, flu, etc. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth at all possible. Germs on your skin need a way to enter the body and will use those mucus membranes. And get a flu shot. I hear so many people complain that they don’t want to get the flu from the flu shot. Talk to any health care provider about this. I get my flu shot early every year. Anyone who does not get the flu shot puts me at risk by not getting one. And I know that it doesn’t cover every strain, but it will cover the most common ones that have developed in countries that have gone through flu season.

    Yes, be aware of germy places. But if you touch something at high risk, wash your hands as soon as possible. That is the best method of avoiding flu and cold germs.

  4. Denise says

    Eeewwww! Some of these I knew, but some I hadn’t thought about. This is another reason to use Norwex cloths. I have small ones that I keep in my purse in a zip top plastic baggie. Then I can use it in bathrooms when out and about, or to wipe my hands before eating (use it AFTER looking at the menu – those are gross too!). It also works great to wipe down my phone, my purse and handles (I also use a purse hanger when out to eat so my purse hangs from the table, providing both germ reduction and safety from someone grabbing it as they walk by). I went on a long overseas trip and had a couple of small Norwex cloths to use – one for hands and one to wipe down my seat area (tray, seat belt, armrests, etc.). I used to get sick often when flying, but now that I’m disinfecting my space, it hasn’t happened! Thanks for all of the great tips.

  5. Ada says

    The vacuum cleaner and bed ones surprised me. Not that they don’t make sense in this list, just that I wouldn’t have considered them. And now I’m thinking it might be a good thing that I can never keep a made bed in this house since the dog *always* manages to sneak in and scratch all the bedding off into a giant pile for her own personal nest in the afternoons even though she has her own squishy comfy bed.

  6. Murphy says

    Somewhere on the peroxide page, there was a comment that using a spray bottle of vinegar, followed by a spray of hydroperoxide got e coli and other germs, without using so much bleach in the kitchen.

    • says

      This is MUCH safer! Ingesting bleach is just as much of a contaminant as salmonella and e. coli. At least vinegar is food safe, and kills most of the germs. Some states even allow diluted vinegar as a restaurant sanitizer, and restaurants have to worry about people with compromised immune systems–so you know it’s fine for anyone with a healthy immune system!

  7. Genny says

    I HATE having to touch the door handles at stores and shopping malls. Why do they have to be grabbed and pulled in order to get in?! It always grosses me out! I much prefer the doors that you can push while you’re going forward. Even then, I use the back of my hand or grab my purse and push the door open.

  8. Ramona says

    Door handles!, especially those used by multitudes of hands. Use elbows to push, pinky to pull, only at the least used bottom of the handle. School and buses. The first thing my children do after school is head for the kitchen, and the first thing I say is “Wash your hands!” Shoe strings – don’t get me started … Wash hands before and after taking – or dispensing – medicines. Dab Neosporin or similar antibacterial salve inside edge of nostrils to help stop inhaling germs. I can’t cite any scientific references, just my wild imagination. Cleanliness is a habit – teach your children early to wash hands. Jillie, thanks for all your good things!

    • Katy says

      Neosporin won’t help stop you from inhaling germs – and overuse of antibacterial medications (including over-the-counter) actually helps promote growth of those drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA and VRE. PLEASE don’t use antibiotic creams/ointments unless actually necessary, i.e. when bandaging open wounds! And for heaven’s sake, give your hands a break – they don’t need to be washed after every little thing you touch, just after things like public toilets/doors, bathroom visits, handling raw meat, etc. Occasional exposure to germs is what helps us build and maintain a healthy immune system! (I’m a medical professional, trained in microbiology and several other areas – what I’m telling you has solid scientific and medical evidence to back it up.)

    • says

      If you’re in a public restroom and need to open the door using a handle (thank goodness for the ones that have no doors), grab a paper towel and open the door with that, then toss it in the trash.

      Personally, I think the Neosporin on the nostrils is a bit paranoid. Our bodies need to be exposed to germs to build antibodies. It’s one thing to wash your hands after using a public restroom or the shopping cart at Walmart (ick), it’s another to try to stop ALL germs from entering our bodies.

  9. murphy says

    Jillie, how about a link to your recipe for DIY Sani-wipes, please? Would go perfectly here. I found it eventually, though. Will make soon. (Out of coconut oil, comments unfortunately had no answer whether olive oil is an aceptable substitute.) Thanks!

  10. Erin Rose says

    Wow what awesome tips, thank you! I agree with everyone else about needing some bacteria around for the immune system, but the point of it all is the be as clean and health-conscious as possible. I have a baby and cloth diaper, so I’m continually surrounded by germs. I will definitely keep these considerations in mind!! The bacteria is not only unhealthy, but it does cause odors. A clean home is a nice smelling home too :)

    Vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial, so I use that in my homemade all-purpose spray (vinegar, water, soap, and lemon essential oil). Then once a month I bleach down everything, but for those who have sever allergies to cleaning products, vinegar is awesome! Bleach is wonderful though when you need to MURDER those bacterial germs! :)

  11. Cathy the cheapo says

    Whenever I go on vacation I always use anti-bacteria wipes and wipe down, all door knobs, fridge handles, tv remotes, cabinet door handles ect. And I always wash all dishes and silverware in dishwasher before we use any. And don’t forget to disinfect the bathroom!!

  12. Brenda says

    As your post shows quite clearly, Jillee, there are so many places that we come into contact with bad bacteria and viruses that can make us sick, that we could drive ourselves insane trying to keep them all clean enough. Another one that I heard on the local news just last evening, is lunch bags – especially fabric ones. [Sorry, I can't find a link for the report.] Well anyway, I’m not the kind of person to knock myself out trying to clean everything constantly, so I prefer to concentrate on my immune system. If your immune system is in good working order, you will still have to do your routine housekeeping, of course, but you won’t have to be stressed out over whether you’ve killed every pathogenic microbe. (I rarely get a cold or the flu – I can’t even remember the last time, but it’s been years – and then only mildly, and I’m 60 now.) In other words, keep your hair, and your sanity! ;-)

    Homemade probiotic foods and beverages are the cheapest and most potent way to do this. They can be really simple to make, and are really not very time consuming, yet they do a body good. My favorite is homemade milk Kefir (this can be made non-dairy as well, if necessary), which is like a drinkable yogurt, only better. Once you get the Kefir grains (no, it’s not a grain product, that’s just a descriptive term, but not a very good one, IMO), and get your milk cultured (in 24-48 hours), you’ve got a beverage that not only increases your good gut flora, but it also kills the pathogenic ones (the ones that could make you sick if they get out of control and dominate). The culturing needs to be done in a dark place so that the vitamin C can develop properly – light destroys it.

    To illustrate how simple the process is for Kefir: 1) pour milk – preferably organic whole milk – into a clean glass jar, 2) add the appropriate amount of Kefir grains per milk quantity, 3) cover tightly and put in a room temperature dark place for 24-48 hours, 4) separate Kefir grains from cultured milk/now Kefir, and add them to another jar of milk to culture. That’s it! You can now drink your Kefir as is, or you can blend it into smoothies, or use it in/on other uncooked foods (cooking will destroy the beneficial properties).

    There is an abundance of information about Kefir making on the internet, as well as places from which to order Kefir grains at a reasonable price – but order fresh ones rather than dried, if you can. Sometimes you can order Kefir grains from people for the price of postage only. Other probiotic foods and beverages are traditionally prepared pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt (adds good gut flora, but doesn’t destroy the bad), Kombucha, and water Kefir – just to name a few. Dr. Mercola (http://tinyurl.com/crk428o) reported that there are more live pribiotics in these foods than there is in a probiotic supplement – including his own brand. I’ve just decided to do a Pinterest board for Kefir because I’d like to share some reputable sites that I know of. You can check that out here, if you’re interested (this may take me a few hours/days): http://pinterest.com/brendamorrow2/ (Another board you may want to check out to assist your immune system, and your health in general, is my “Beneficial Clay”. I’d tell you more about it, but I don’t want to totally abuse Jillee’s post, if I haven’t already.)

    Sorry this got so long, Jillee, but I hope this information will help somebody…. Good health, and peace of mind to everyone!! :-)

  13. susan says

    Antibacterial wipes scare me and the gels too. Did no one read how bad they are? They wipe out natural immunity and help cause super bugs. I keep babywipes in my car and wash my hands everytime i get in. Then i wipe down the surfaces near me. Keeps me and the car cleaner. Always use my forearm or hand tucked in sleeve to open public doors or push buttons. My petpeeve? Bathroom doors that open in upon leaving!!! plus i think all public bathrooms should have no touch appliances. I mean seriously, wash your hands then turn off the water you just turned on with your dirty hand?
    Taking acidophilous goes a long way to keeping the bad bugs out of your system in the first place.
    I am not a fan of vaccines so would never go that route

  14. says

    I’m so happy to finally have a valid excuse for not making my bed! I didn’t even think about my purse and all the germs there. Yuk. I put my cutting boards (plastic) in the dishwasher once week, but all these other things…so good to know. Thank you!

    • Lynda says

      I agree with you about the cutting board, but I am a bit more careful due to my toddler’s now, former health issues. I wash them (plastic as well) once, if not twice a day (we are a two dishwasher load a day family). I have two- one for the home made bread, and one for cooking. They get switched out through out the day. I cook everything from scratch so I am always using a cutting board.

      As I leave a public washroom, I am always careful to either keep the paper towel with me to open the door, or grab it on the bottom. Sure, it makes it a bit harder to open the door, but people always grab the upper part to open the door just for that reason.

      • says

        I just switch out cutting boards when I use them–but at the same time, strategically plan out what gets cut when to minimize the dishes. Tomatoes get cut last, unless there’s raw meat happening, just so I don’t have to sop up the juice. But if I do, I just rinse it off, flip it over, and do the meat. We also use sticky mats (shelf liner) under the boards to keep them from slipping, and those get washed about once a week as well as any time I’ve had to flip the board. Counters get cleaned a few times a day anyway (vinegar solution, with 2 drops of essential oil to keep the smell down because my MIL doesn’t like it).

  15. Pebbles says

    I am so glad that I found your blog because I just know whatever you post I am going to be able to use to my advantage. I honestly can explain how excited I am, WHY AM I SO EXCITED lol question to self, but I really just wanted to thank you for all your tips and advice on certain things. I also just joined Pinterest, because I was seeing post about “pinning” you and this and that & of course I was like what is that *mmmhhhh scratches head and thinks, then clicks Pin” lol so I am a newbie but I will definitely figure everything out soon, but I am a little lose. But hey maybe you can do a blog about how to get started with your new Pinterest account. *crosses fingers hoping you say yes* anywho your WONDERFUL… & the washer and dryer are looks nice!!!!

  16. Brittany says

    Cell phones are completely disgusting. I went to my dermatologist after noticing that I’ve been breaking out on the side of my face. We finally came to the conclusion that that is where I hold my cell phone. I bought a UV cell phone sanitizer and it has really helped with the breakouts.

  17. Robyn says

    I used to clean airplane bathrooms. They do not get cleaned well at all, especially if your flight is not first thing in the morning. The time we had to clean the bathrooms was very short, often there was just time for a cosmetic wipe down and to refill the supplies. I would advise avoiding the airplane bathroom unless absolutely necessary!

  18. says

    As a nurse, we are taught to wash out hands then turn off the light, tap and open the door with the paper towel. I tend to get a new one because germs can travel through the paper towel if it is wet. So I’m not sure when you say that using a napkin on the ketchup bottle isn’t enough. It may not be a perfect solution but it has to be better than nothing. But not if you use the same napkin to wipe your face! What I hate is when the garbage is so far from the door that you can’t throw your paper towel out. So you either have to touch the doorknob, throw the towel on the floor or find another place to toss it. Ugh.

    It’s a very fine line between exposing ourselves to enough germs to make out immune systems strong and not getting a truly nasty disease. Especially since vaccinations aren’t 100% and we live in such a global community where diseases from other countries can get here so easily. I live very close to Toronto and my husband, a paramedic, was quarantined twice during the SARS outbreak which came here from Asia.

    I tend to be more lax inside our house and stricter about bringing outside germs in. Except when it comes to food germs like raw chicken.

  19. says

    Sick! How do we humans ever survive? I don’t make my bed right away in the morning but pull the sheets down to let it “air out” for an hour or more before I make it. I just think it helps to freshen up the warm bed after a night’s sleep. Little did I know, I’m doing a good thing. I always think about the ketchup bottle I grab at a restaurant. Ick.

    thanks for the list….I think.

  20. says

    I work in the medical field and also do volunteer work in schools. There are many other places germs hide. Like the underneath sides of counters, bars, barstools, and chairs. People, and kids, don’t always keep their hands on the tops of the tables. Frequently, they grab underneath to pull themselves forward or reach under a chair while fidgeting.

    Other places are:
    Coffee pot handles
    Button/handle on a water fountain
    Silverware in buffet lines that are in bins
    Self-serve fountain drink lids, cups, and straw dispensers
    Toothpick dispensers
    Cabinet and drawer edges and handles

    I don’t believe in living a paranoid life. Some exposure to germs can make a healthy immune system. However, sometimes it seems we have illnesses one after the other. A good way to see where germs may be “hidden” in your home is to walk around with a disinfecting wipe in your hand, and go about your daily business. When your hand touches something in the course of moving around, wipe it off.

    Great article!

  21. says

    I am sooooooooooo grossed out about the lemons now! I mean, I typically ask for the lemon to be left off, because I’m not a fan. But do you know how many times I’ve given the lemons to my KIDS to suck on while we’re waiting for food? They’ve been doing it since they were babies. Well, maybe not any more ….

  22. Comet says

    To the people who claim that all of the REST of us will some how “Protect” them by being vaccinated while THEY refuse to–

    We are not your guinea pigs.

    We vaccinate ourselves and our kids so as to NOT come down with germ borne diseases that can KILL you.
    As some one who had all of the FORMERLY common “Childhood diseases” (I am 54–chances are your Mom and other adults of this age ALL had them too) I can tell you that chicken pox—which is one of the “milder” diseases—can KILL you just as DEAD as MRSA. German measels makes you extremely sick and oh yeah I believe that it can make men STERILE. Or was that MUMPS? So hard to remember–Whooping cough is “enjoying” a deadly revival due in part to those parents who refuse to vaccinate their vulnerable kids. I was thought to have had “regular measels” when I was a little kid—after all everyone around me had them–and so I was thought to have acquired immunity. So imagine my SURPRISE one morning when I was 16 to wake up with a full blown case of a deadly disease. Which almost caused me to go blind.

    How did this happen? After all I lived in a very upscale well educated medically aware area—half of the kids in my school were the kids of doctors. Well it seems that some one among the non-doctor contingent decided that the REST of us were Ok to provide her lil darlins’ with immunity and so did NOT vaccinate her kid. Which caused a huge outbreak in our schools when all the other kids who either were not old enough to get the vaccine or had been in the “Notch Group” when some kids got this vaccine and some did not. The childhood diseases are pretty much annoying to a kid. They can be deadly to them of course but as we get older they become even MORE deadly.

    So you are not doing yourself any favors when you opt to leave yourself and your children at the mercy of these deadly germs. Particularly your children.

    AS to keeping things clean—we have evolved with many many microbes–something like 95% of our gut contents can be microbes. And MOST are absolutely NEEDED for proper gut function. It is when certain gut bacteria get out of control that we have problems. Exposure to E Coli etc can make this happen. E Coli is in our systems all the time. But certain strains can kill you. And in this country we are very lax about inspections at food processing plants to avoid this. And it is NOT just meat plants. How many of these outbreaks have been caused by poor hygiene among farm workers that contaminate the lettuce lets say?

    I do know that you get some pretty strange looks when you take a kid out of a public bathroom saying–this bathroom is TOO DIRTY to wash in—lets just use our “Handitizer” as my grand kids call it!

      • Stacey says

        Huh, I was just thinking the same thing. And, now, am giggling thinking of someone using a cutting board in the bathroom. :o) But, I suppose, that if someone didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, then went into the kitchen to start dinner and started cutting food up, that it could possibly get on a cutting board that way. EEEEWWWWWW, that just grosses me out to think of that happening!
        Another way to stop germ from spreading is to close the toilet cover BEFORE you flush….even at home. How many of you have your toothbrush standing up in a glass on the sink, in the vicinity where spray from flushing the toilet *could* get on it?? Yuck!

        • Charli says

          Thank goodness somebody mentioned that! I’m reading all these comments and wondering if I’m the only one freaking out about fecal matter on a cutting board. I mean really, how could you…Ugh!!!! I don’t even want to think about it!

          I honestly think that washing your hands thoroughly before and after touching anything is the best way to go.

    • Valerie Boutwell says

      I think the fecal matter, e. coli, on the cutting board, comes from the beef products that we cut up. When they slaughter the cows and grind them for burgers or cut them into steaks, if they do not do the slaughter and cut up properly the contents of the cow’s intestines can get into the meat, this is why eating raw and undercooked meat is dangerous.

  23. Crystal says

    Admittedly I am a bit of a germaphobe and I do know where germs are or can be. I always carry my own pen and hand sanitizer but one time when I switched purses (which NEVER get set on the ground) I forgot to transfer both to the new one. When I went to the doctor that day and had to sign in I was at a loss! Sure there are little bottles of hand sanitizer set out, and even one on the wall (which you have to press to get the hand sanitizer) but I refuse to touch them. I had to ask the receptionist for an alcohol wipe and a pen from HER desk (not touching the one left for patients to use, too many little spots the alcohol wipe can’t get to). She gave me a bit of a hassle about it so I then asked for a glove from a fresh opened box (I always request a fresh box because once the box has been opened the gloves on the top are sitting in the exposed air around sick people and who knows who was in that room before me). She gave me a pen and an alcohol wipe. BTW that day I was not physically sick, I was only there for a consult with my doctor. I admit I go to the extreme but as an agoraphobe I rarely leave my house and every time I do if I am not vigilant I WILL get sick and because my immune system is not strong I stay sick for a good long while.

    Door handles are something I don’t touch unless there is NO other choice. If a door is pull only I use the edge of my sleeve then sanitize my hands but I have found that if I stand there a few seconds someone will usually come and open the door. The good news though is that I know when I leave I can just use my foot to push the door open. Door knobs (except in my own home) are a no go though. I just will not touch them. I don’t care why I would have to go through a round knob door outside my house but it is not happening if someone is not there to answer a knock or someone is not with me to open it instead. Door lever handles I can use my sleeve on, door knobs are just that bit too big.

    As for restaurants or fast food, I don’t go there. And that is full on the germaphobe talking. I use to work as a waitress and I know how nasty the lemons are and remember too that the waitress may be bussing tables or picking up her tip from the table (cash is a nasty little germ farm) then come in and grab YOUR fresh plate of food from the pass and putting her thumb on the top edge of your plate and her fingers under, right where you might put your fingers to turn your plate. Your silverware has probably also been touched by all the waitstaff as they reach into the bins to wrap it in the nice clean napkins and who knows if they washed their hands first after doing other things (you can always ask for to-go plastic cutlery which is usually in little sealed plastic pouches). The waitstaff will also handle your glass after touching things and then when you reach for it to take a drink then you grab a fry or your sandwich or fork which you then rest on your plate. . . well you get the idea. I once almost had a complete meltdown because I was bussing a table and picked up a plate that ended up having some kind of nasty, clear, invisible in the low lighting mucus on it!!!!!!!!!!! I freaked out once I got to the back and was getting all kinds of weird looks and comments from co-workers but it was DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!

    Not trying to gross anyone out, just saying that if you or someone you know is immune suppressed there are more things to think of than just door handles. Okay, maybe I am more than just a BIT of a germaphobe

    • Katy says

      You might want to consider therapy… if you can’t handle typical daily exposure to public use areas without freaking out about potential contamination, then you’re probably dealing with a form of OCD (seriously.) You’re really not doing yourself any good with those habits.

  24. WNCmountaingirl says

    One I also do is I never order a drink with ice – as many restaurants do not clean the ice maker and LOTS of bacteria can grow in them … (I worked at a restaurant) and there is some nasty goo that can grow there and end up in your drink SOOOOO always go ICE FREE when ordering a beverage somewhere…besides you’ll more drink in your glass this way as a bonus.. : )

  25. says

    How did we all get this far in life with all these germs lurking in unsuspecting places? We should all be six feet under from all the horrible germs we’ve been exposed to! Seriously, as several others have pointed out, our bodies need exposure to germs to build antibodies. There’s common sense and there’s paranoia. Wash your hands, keep your food prep area clean, carry a bottle of antibacterial gel in case you handle something icky like a shopping cart handle. You’re not doing yourself or your children any favors by being so over zealous about eliminating exposure to germs that you can’t even tie your own shoes without freaking out. I think the manufacturers of antibacterial products and disinfectants are creating a generation of germophobes.

  26. CTY says

    One of the worst offenders I know of are shopping carts. Many stores now have sanitizing wipes for the handle but consider this—The child seat part of the basket has all kinds of troubles, leaky diapers, runny noses, spit up, drools, partially eaten you fill in the blank. Most of us folks without kids use that seat for fragile produce, eggs, bread, our purse etc. One solution. By pass that seat all together or when in a pinch use a hand carry basket offered at the front door inside the seat. Now those too can be nasty– but it cuts bodily fluids from the list. The best solution is a fabric seat lining that you bring with you and is washed after each use.

  27. Lisa C says

    I made us a bunch of pillow cases. We change them every few days, usually about 3 times a week. BUT, if anyone is sick, feverish, sniffles, sneezing, runny watery eyes, we change them BOTH daily in the morning when we get up. It has cut down on passing germs and reinfecting ourselves. We actually have not “passed” any air born illnesses in years. Plus its really REALLY nice to put a fresh pillow case on several times a week since we put our clothes on the line year round.!

  28. Brooke says

    OMG that one about “Your Bed” freaks me out! The others are prety nasty too. Well looks like I’m on a new mission to disinfect. Oh boy!
    Thanks once again for the great info. BTW, I never make my bed so it’s a good thing. LOL

  29. Valerie Boutwell says

    I never used to worry about any of this too much. I was happy to share food and drinks with people. After discovering that I was gluten intolerant and trying to avoid being cross contaminated with traces of gluten, I have started thinking about all these surfaces. I have read that 70-80% of the food consumed in the USA contains wheat or gluten. So for me, I am thinking about all those things that people touch right after eating a burger or a burrito, and they have gluten on their hands. Despite me being super super careful, I frequently have symptoms from gluten and have no idea how I got it. It is such a struggle to find the balancing point between avoiding being ill and trying to enjoy life.

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  31. Ezra Lasagna says

    Type A flu virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics. The influenza A2 virus (and other variants of influenza) is spread by people who are already infected. The most common flu hot spots are those surfaces that an infected person has touched and rooms where he has been recently, especially areas where he has been sneezing.`*:”

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  32. Carletta Sulser says

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is possible for novel coronavirus, a new coronavirus that has killed at least 18 people in the Middle East and Europe, to be passed between humans, but only after prolonged contact. So far, however, there is no evidence that the virus is able to sustain generalized transmission in communities, a scenario that would raise the specter of a pandemic.:-;’

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