Ever since hearing how gross public restroom door handles were because of the number of people who don’t wash with soap after they use the toilet, I pull my shirt sleeve over my hand to open the door when exiting so as not to contaminate myself. I also use my elbows to turn on faucets in public bathrooms, don’t go barefoot in a hotel room and pull my shirt up over my nose (my shirts come in very handy) when on an airplane if the guy in front of me starts hacking and expelling all kinds of nasty germs. Guess you could say I’m a bit of a germaphobe. But who can blame me? Every time I open a magazine or newspaper, it’s seems there is yet another study telling us about more places where tons of disgusting organisms are lurking. At this rate, I may never leave the house.
Our friends at Fitsugar were kind enough to compile a list of the most bacteria-ridden things, so aside from the obvious statement of saying “Wash your hands after you poop, people”, here’s our take on which ones get a major “Eww”.
1. Restaurant menus
One study reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces, including menus. You don’t know what kind of people have sat in that restaurant before you and how clean — or not — they were. They could have sneezed on their hands, picked up the menu, placed their order and then set that menu aside to be delivered to you-know-who at the next table.
2. Lemon wedges
You know when you say, “I’ll just have water with lemon” at your favorite restaurant? You might as well be saying, “I’ll have water with fecal matter.” That’s because the little lemon wedge perched on your glass has a 70 percent chance of containing disease-causing microbes, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Skip it.
3. Condiment dispensers
You’ve seen waitresses emptying, washing, bleaching and drying ketchup and mustard containers, right? Neither have we. So germs could be harboring in them for weeks, months or longer. What’s just as gross is the number of people who (once again) don’t wash their hands before using them — leaving their feces for you and your fries.
4. Restroom door handles
People poop, wipe, don’t wash their hands and then touch everything in sight as they exit the restroom. ‘Nuf said on that one.
5. Soap dispensers
This may sound counter-intuitive, but public restroom soap dispensers are dirty. In fact, about 25 percent of them are contaminated with fecal bacteria. We’re venturing a guess that most of these containers never get cleaned, even though they are continuously touched by dirty hands.
6. Grocery carts
Which would you rather lick: a toilet or the handle of a grocery cart? Grocery carts actually contain more bacteria than public restrooms. In fact, almost two-thirds contain fecal matter. So wash your hands when you get home before you put your groceries away. And don’t lick either one.
7. Airplane bathrooms
As if being crammed in a small, uncomfortable space and breathing stale, recycled air for hours isn’t bad enough, airline bathrooms are chock-full of E. coli. Studies show you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne. See? Pull your shirts up over your noses, people. Makes us wonder about those scratchy blankets and little pillows too.
8. Doctor’s office
How often are the chairs, doorknobs and magazines in a doctor’s office sanitized? Um, probably never. Even though sick people touch them all day long. Bring your own reading material and feel free to wipe down your chair with a hand-wipe before sitting. Who cares what those other coughing, sneezing, red-nosed people think. Maybe they wouldn’t be there if they did the same.
Have any other bacteria-fighting solutions for your fellow germaphobes? Do share.
Photo: Creative Commons