Okay, we admit it: we're a sucker for "Germiest Places" lists.
Here's a list of the 12 Germiest Places. How many do you come into contact with each day? Some will not apply to everyone. For instance, some people don't fly. Others may not use handbags.
Are you a real-live germophobe? A link at the end of the story will direct you to a list for remedies to the following germ-infested everyday items.
1. Your kitchen sink
Kitchen sinks are dirtier than most bathrooms. There are typically more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch in the drain alone. Plus your sponge, basin and faucet handles are crawling with bacteria as well.
2. Airplane bathrooms
It may not be a shock that there are a huge number of germs in most public bathrooms, but experts agree the cramped and overused ones on airplanes are the worst. There are often traces of E. coli or fecal bacteria on the faucets and door handles because it’s hard to wash hands in the tiny sinks. And the volcanic flush of the commode tends to spew particles into the air, coating the floor and walls with whatever had been swirling around in it.
3. A load of wet laundry
Any time you transfer underwear from the washer to the dryer, you’re getting E. coli on your hands. Just one soiled undergarment can spread bacteria to the whole load and machine.
4. Public drinking fountains
Drinking fountains are bound to be germy, but school fountains are the worst, with anywhere from 62,000 to 2.7 million bacteria per square inch on the spigot.
5. Shopping cart handles
Saliva, bacteria and fecal matter are just a few of the substances found on shopping cart handles. Cart handles rank high on the yuck scale because they’re handled by dozens of people every day and, of course, raw food carries nasty pathogens.
6. ATM buttons
If you’re not careful, you might pick up more than quick cash from your local ATM. These buttons have more gunk on them than most public-bathroom doorknobs! ATMs aren’t frequently cleaned, and are regularly touched — a perfect combination for a lot of germs.
7. Your handbag
Recent studies found that most women’s purses had tens of thousands of bacteria on the bottom and a few were overrun with millions. Another study found bugs like pseudomonas (which can cause eye infections) and skin-infection-causing staphylococcus bacteria, as well as salmonella and E. coli.
There’s just no way to put this delicately: Children tend to ooze bodily fluids and then spread them around. When researchers sampled playgrounds, they found blood, mucus, saliva and urine. Pair those findings with the fact that children put their fingers in their mouths and noses more than the rest of us, and it’s easy to understand why Junior (and maybe his mom or dad) has the sniffles.
9. Mats and machines at health clubs
Antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus has been found on yoga mats and cardio and resistance machines. At high schools, antibiotic-resistant-staph infections have been transmitted through wrestling mats. The same thing could happen at health clubs.
10. Your bathtub
Shocking, but true: The place you go to get clean is quite dirty. A recent study found staphylococcus bacteria, a common cause of serious skin infections, in 26 percent of the tubs tested, as compared with just 6 percent of garbage cans. Tubs typically had more than 100,000 bacteria per square inch! You’re washing germs and viruses off your body and the tub is a fairly moist environment, so bacteria can grow.
11. Your office phone
This is enough to make you dial 911: Office phones often have more than 25,000 germs per square inch, and your desk, computer keyboard and mouse aren’t far behind. Phones, including cell phones, can be pretty gross because they get coated with germs from your mouth and hands.
12. The hotel-room remote control
What’s the first thing you do when you settle in at a hotel? You grab the remote control and switch on the TV — you, and the hundreds of other guests who’ve stayed there. How dirty is it? A recent study tested various surfaces for the cold virus after a group of sick people had stayed overnight and found the virus on the remote, door handles, light switches, pens and faucet handles.
So you've just got a drink at the water fountain after working out on your health club's Nautilus; then you ran home and took a bath, made a phone call from the office to book a flight, grabbed your handbag, stopped at the ATM and withdrew some money (notorius for filth), so you could buy a cartfull of groceries before you left?
For remedies to the filth you've just read about, see The 12 Germiest Places.
[images: victorpowell & sciencenews]
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