Health Talk: Six Places Germs Hide
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 15:09
Cutline: Cell phone usage in bathrooms has become more common, so make sure to disinfect your phone on a regular basis to avoid harboring harmful germs.
Eat, sleep, exercise, work, study, socialize -- all are typical activities we perform on a daily basis. But something we may not realize is how many infection-causing germs reside on the items used to complete many of those tasks. The following is a list of six items you use regularly but may not have thought to be infested by germs.
1. Remote control
When completing household cleaning duties, typically the remote control gets overlooked. An effective method of cleaning the controller is swabbing the buttons with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. This also can work on gaming controllers and computer keyboards.
2. Purses and wallets
While germs collect mostly on the outsides of women’s purses, they populate mostly on the inside of men’s wallets. Try to avoid setting your purse down on the dirty ground and the floors of bathrooms. As far as what inhabits the inside of wallets, keep in mind that your George Washingtons have been around.
According to Charles Gerba, microbiology professor at the University of Arizona, paper currency “pick up germs, viruses, and often trace amounts of illegal drugs,” whereas coins are not as germy because the bacteria cannot survive as well on metal.
3. Cell phone
Researches at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine conducted a study on cell phone filth. They found that about 92 percent of phones had bacteria all over their surfaces, while more specifically 16 percent contained the bacteria E. coli, which comes from feces. Bacteria collected on your hands can travel to your phone and then to your face, so remember to wash well after using the restroom and disinfect your phone regularly.
4. Steering wheel
Studies done by researchers at Queen Mary University in London have found that 700 harmful bacteria live in the interior of your car, while only 80 bacteria can be found on the average toilet seat. Vacuuming and wiping out your car’s interior and avoiding eating while driving can help prevent the spread of vehicular bacteria.
It is difficult to hear that a cleaning device, especially one used to clean your mouth, can harbor harmful germs. Kimberly Harms, DDS and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, shares tips about keeping your toothbrush clean: Keep it rinsed, keep it dry, keep it upright and keep it to yourself. Also, keeping it as far away from the bacteria-spraying toilet will help it remain relatively germ-free.
6. Gym clothes
Because bacteria enjoy growing in hot, damp conditions, your warm and sweaty gym clothes provide the perfect breeding ground for germs. When you’ve finished your workout, try to change out of those clothes as soon as possible, and let your shoes air out before putting them away or wearing them again.
Other items that may be filled with bacteria include shower curtains, restaurant menus, handles on gas pumps, pens and pencils, dishrags, water fountains and shopping carts. Keep in mind that some germs are actually healthy for your immune system, but being aware of hidden germs will help prevent an unhealthy overdose of harmful bacteria.