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10 Dirty, Germ-Covered Things You Touch Every Day

Things You Touch Every Day

I wouldn’t call myself a germaphobe, but I am pretty conscious about keeping my hands clean. (Mostly because I HATE getting sick! I don’t have time to be sick!) But there are so many things that we touch and handle on a day-to-day basis that harbor germs and bacteria, that sometimes I wonder if keeping my hands clean is enough!

So rather than attempting to list every germ-ridden object we handle on a daily basis, I decided I would come up with a list of some of the items we interact with most frequently. Disinfecting these items regularly will go a long way towards keeping you and your family healthy through the months to come!

10 Dirty Things You Touch Every Day

Things You Touch Every Day

1. Cutting Board

Are you ready for a gross factoid? Apparently the average cutting board has 200x more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. (Ewww!) You can’t just toss your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher, but you should give it a nice scrub-down regularly with hot, soapy water.

Things You Touch Every Day

2. Hand Towels

You should switch out your hand towels with clean ones every few days. It may seem like a lot, but if someone who hasn’t washed their hands properly dries their hands on that towel, they’re wiping bacteria onto that towel. If the towel doesn’t dry properly, it can breed more bacteria, and that’s not good for anyone! Just swap your hand towels out frequently so you don’t have to worry about it. :-)

Things You Touch Every Day

3. Keys

Think about it – have you ever actually cleaned your car or house keys? (I haven’t… yuck!) You handle them all the time, and they’re most likely covered in all sorts of bacteria. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean your keys off every once in a while.

Related: Make Your Own Reusable Disinfecting Wipes

4. Shopping Carts

More and more grocery stores are offering disinfecting wipes near the grocery carts, and for good reason. Many cart handles actually test positive for E. coli, because people handle raw meat in the store and then touch the cart handles afterwards. So take advantage of those free disinfecting wipes, and wipe down your cart handle before you shop!

Things You Touch Every Day

5. Reusable Grocery Bags

Speaking of groceries, your reusable grocery bags probably need a good cleaning too. If your bags are more of a vinyl material, you can clean them by spraying them inside and out with hydrogen peroxide, then wiping them dry. For bags that are more cloth-like, you can toss them right in your washing machine with your clothes.

Things You Touch Every Day

6. Sponges

Your kitchen sponge may very well be the dirtiest item in your home, housing hundreds of millions of bacteria. Replace your kitchen sponge regularly, and toss it in the dishwasher to keep it clean between uses. (If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can also boil or microwave a wet sponge to kill germs.)

Things You Touch Every Day

7. Cell Phones

Cell phones are a haven for bacteria. Your hands and face are constantly transferring all sorts of germs to the surface of your phone! Swipe your phone, front and back, with a disinfecting wipe a few times a week to keep it clean and sanitary.

Things You Touch Every Day

8. Eyeglasses

If you wear glasses, you’re touching them frequently with your hands, and they are probably making contact with other dirty surfaces when you set them down. Wipe the lenses clean with a soft microfiber cloth, and clean the frames with an alcohol wipe to clean up any dirty residue.

Things You Touch Every Day

9. Buttons

Think of all the different buttons you touch during an average day – buttons on AMTs, crosswalks, parking meters, elevators, and more! Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag or briefcase, and remember to use it after coming in contact with germ-y buttons and other surfaces.

Things You Touch Every Day

10. Your Hands

You can’t disinfect everything in your life, but what you can keep clean is your hands. Make a habit of washing your hands every time you arrive at home. This one simple step can reduce your risk of getting sick by almost 50%!

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • I have Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol) in spray bottles everywhere in my house, handbag, laptop bag, travel suitcase and car. It disinfects and cleans glass, being handy for cell phones, laptops, and eyewear. I always use it on tweezers, public toilet seats and the bottoms of my handbags. I find it more ideal than hydrogen peroxide as it evaporates so dry time is much quicker. And when added to aloe vera gel, it becomes a hand sanitizer. It’s also in my Window Cleaner recipe, my homemade poopourri, and my homemade air freshener. It also dissolves frost from car windscreens. In NZ it costs $38 for 5 liters from a commercial supplier, which is nothing compared to the $8.50 for 50ml as sold in drug stores. This allows me to keep my adult children well stocked and has become an item I can not be without.

  • Reply to RitaDiana: Good point however there are things to consider:
    There are so many more people living in crowded, unhealthy environments today, especially in larger cities.
    We need to consider options to help us remain healthy as it is impossible to avoid transferring germs.
    Many people have compromised immune systems through no fault of their own and need to be particularly careful.
    Flu season is coming and when people do not get vaccinated against the current strain, well, you better be using some sort of protection to avoid as much as possible catching whatever others may have passed along.
    Just a few thoughts from a person with a moderate POV.

  • germs trigger the immune system which builds antibodies, the natural defenses of the human body, without them the body becomes easily attacked by more serious enemies. that is why once upon a time we were healthier and more resistant to diseases, because we didn’t know all this…and we didn’t need a lot of vaccines because our immune systems were stronger

  • I never thought about this item until I had to start wearing one for for work. When you used the bathroom at a public
    facility, you zip and button your pants and buckle your belt, (with the hands we just used to wipe ourselves with) walk out of the stall and wash your hands. Although we wash our clothes of germs, what about our belts? When you remove your belt at the end of the day, just run it through a sanitary wipe or just run though a wash cloth, but just get it done.

      • How about hand washing the way nurses do? Have the paper towel in the public rest room ready before you wash your hands. Wash, then dry your hands then turn off faucets and open rest room door with the used paper towel.

  • There was an article in Science recently that said that microwaving sponges is breeding super antibiotic resistant bacteria. Better to replace them weekly.

  • Oh my goodness. I would think having long nails while working with food in a restaurant would be a no-no. At work if they work in food prep areas they are not even supposed to wear nail polish.Im not sure how strict they are about enforcing it.

  • I threw all my sponges out years ago. It is much better to use dish rags in the kitchen that you throw in the washer. I use one dish rag a day and then it goes in the laundry. I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use a sponge in the bathroom. Gross. Only rags that can be sanitized in the washer can be found in my home. Sponges collect and grow bacteria.

  • And for those of you who carry a purse, diaper bag, etc. and set it on the floor (in restaurants, on public transportation, public bathroom counter tops, store check out counters, etc.), you need to clean them, especially the outside bottom. How you do so, of course, depends on the type of fabric.

    • So true! If you can avoid it, NEVER place these items on the floor. Healthcare workers that go to Patient’s private homes MUST place a “bag barrier” between their bags, purses, work supply totes, basically ANYTHING that will be taken out of one environment and into another. If a Home Healthcare worker is being shadowed by someone from Medicare or another regulating organization for Healthcare Services, and it is noticed that the Healthcare worker did not place a barrier between purses, bags, totes, etc, both the Healthcare worker AND the Agency they work for are automatically issued a failing mark in the Infection Control category. Other things that would earn a failing mark would be failure to wash/dry hands appropriately (including using a disposable paper towel, not a reusable towel) upon entrance and just prior to leaving, not sanitizing any reusable equipment with an approved method, such as a disposable wipe, and not keeping a bag barrier in the car for where the Healthcare worker places the same items that are brought into the Patient’s environment. Almost anything can suffice as a bag barrier. Common items are trash can liners and disposable square bed pads – items that prevent germs from penetrating from one surface to another and that are disposable. At the end of the Healthcare workers shift, the bag barrier used in the car must also be disposed of, and a new one used for the next work shift. This way if any germs did bypass the barrier in the Patient’s environment, hopefully they did not spread into the vehicle, and later into the Healthcare worker’s home. So even if you don’t work in Home Health Care, it can’t hurt to keep a few small waste basket liners with you just in case you have no alternative to putting your purse, etc, on the floor.

      • I really enjoyed reading your article on keeping bacteria, at a safe level. It made me think that these simple steps can be helpful in everyday duties and not just in the work place. Thank you for sharing this very useful information.

  • I read this post with interest wondering what Jillee would recommend, as I have recently read two separate articles regarding sink sponges and germs, both of which stated that microwaving them (or putting them in the dishwasher) doesn’t help, and can even help the bad bacteria multiply (Here’s a link to the first one I could find: https://goo.gl/tWE6hX ).

    Also, please be careful about washing down your plastic framed eyeglasses with chemicals- Acetate (the type of plastic most frames are made from) will deteriorate from contact with many chemicals- even hairspray. Most glasses are too expensive to take that kind of chance. I wash mine with a mixture of water and a drop (only a drop) of dish washing liquid, then I rinse and dry with a clean microfiber cloth. Works every time and doesn’t affect either my frames or my anti-reflective coated lenses)

    I am on the side of thinking that we are too hyper regarding germs. We have made it this far as a species without needing to eradicate every single germ, but some things are just gross.

    • To fight bacteriën, viruses etc… we use EM effective Micro-organismes you can catch it all over the whole world and for us is this the BIG answer/solution for our time.
      One thing of this … it doesn’t take fat away, so we use this in combination of baking soda (Arm and Hammer is the best and best for price too)

      Be warned, when you start you have to roll in this EM world and take your time

      I give you already a link to the EM-world to get an idea what’s all about, it’s so huge you really need time to get this … as we call it here “EM-Life Style” -> you just have to find the one/link in your own part of the world … and it’s NOT expensive too

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends washing (THOROUGHLY)with soap and water as the first line of defense against germs and hand-sanitizers as a back-up when water is not available.

    There is a 5 minute video clip- ‘The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome’NPR.org that helps to explain the role of micro-organisms and the difference between friendly micro-bacteria and unfriendly micro-bacteria.

    A peck of dirt is a good prescription.

      • Thanks to both of you! The last thing we humans need is to make our existence worse by being hyper-clean and wiping out the friendly stuff, or by growing resistant bad bacteria.

  • Do you ever think about the pens you use at restaurants to sign your credit card bill? People eating pizza, chips/salsa, or appetizers with their hands and lick their fingers then use the same pen? I always carry my own!

  • Especially women, think about how many germs are on your purse and wallet. I lightly spray mine with lysol or use a santize wipe once a week on both. Also every few months I wipe off all those plastic cards we carry in our wallets. Our purses are are the largest germ carrier we own and you should never set your purse on your kitchen table or counter because of the transfer of germs.

  • Miss Jillee, you always have such good advice for us! Let me tell you about a kinda gross experience my husband had. He went to pick up a pizza and the guy was just assembling it. He had fingernails long enough to curve under and managed to stick one of those fingernails into our pizza. We no longer buy pizza from there and instead make our own at home with Costco organic pizza kits. Not all food service workers wash their hands as thoroughly as they should and keep their nails short.

  • My former years as a waitress and cashier gave me many opportunities to observe and serve people. We took great measures in those days( decades ago) to clean tables, to clean chairs and benches every shift. We weekly sanitized them. Every food surface was cleaned after every use. All the utensils were handled properly. If a waitress needed to be the cashier, our hands were washed, all money is absolutely filthy. Nowadays I cringe watching food service employees do their job. The attempt to force food handlers to wear gloves, that was a waste of time. Take notice of how often cell phones are used, all while handling and serving food. Too often, scratching their head, playing with their hair, correcting make up etc…. I could go on and on but it would ruin my appetite.

    • I have a couple of pet peeves in restuarants. #1 is menus. They are nasty. They are handled by everyone. they are dropped on the floor (i saw a hostess sorting them out on the floor.) Always wash my hands after handling. #2 the numbers of things that are dropped on the floor then put on your table. Yes menu’s and special menus that are left on your table. Recently I had a server drop my to go order of butter on the floor then she went to put it on the table. I asked her please do not put on the table. She said but it’s not open. I said I know it’s not open but it’s just been on the floor. I asked if she would put her shoe on the table. She just looked at me like I had 3 heads. I explained that it had been on the floor where people had been walking. I don’t think she got it. She started to argue with me but walked off.

  • Another germ object that should not be overlooked is the gas handle at the gas station! I usually keep a set of
    gloves in the glove compartment so I don’t have to touch the handle at all.

  • What really amazes me is people who put their raw meat in the reusable shopping . I work with the public a lot with my job. I’ve heard you can actually clean some of the bags in wash. I agree it’s amazing how many germs things you touch every day. We keep hand sanitizer at work. I also keep a small purse size bottle in my pocket, for those times it’s not easy to get at it.

  • What about coins – they get handled at least once a day! Could be a problem to disinfect them though, so I agree you about keeping hands clean..

    • I remember years and YEARS ago reading about a woman who washed the coins and bills in her husbands wallet EVERY night. She went as far as to iron the bills! It made news, photographs and all, but now it doesn’t seem so crazy, does it! I think it was a pretty sneaky way to go through her husbands pockets, too!

  • We need to chill out about “germs” a bit. The entire nation is becoming OCD. Between overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps/wipes/toys, humans are playing Russian roulette with our immunity systems. #firstworldproblems

    • I agree. I’ve read several articles on the subject, many from the New England Journal of medicine and they all seem to agree that the damage to our immune systems is occurring because we’re too clean and not allowing ourselves to naturally build up immunities to things that we should.

      • I agree just think of “War of the Worlds” with no immunity for the germs in our world they die. You can’t have immunity without exposure.

    • This is actually considered common knowledge in some circles of immuno study. Apparently toothbrushes are the worst, if they are left out in a cup on a counter in the bathroom where a toilet is located, they can absorb and spread even the most minute particles that are floating in the air. The biggest problem of course is people handling things when they haven’t in fact washed their hands properly. there’s an old saying that you have to “eat a peck of dirt before you die”. Turns out it’s true.

      • Toothbrushes should be behind closed doors and occasionally soaked in peroxide. We always put the lid down when flushing. Don’t know if this helps much…the inside of the lid is scrubbed when cleaning. This post has sparked interest in lots of ladies.

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