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hand sanitizer

Where the Germs Are (Slideshow)

The 5 germiest places and how to fight back

It’s a germy world out there.

Here are five places where they lurk — and how to protect yourself from them.

  • 1. Office faucet handles

    The problem: A study tested 5,000 surfaces in various offices and found high levels of contaminants on 75 percent of break room sink faucet handles.

    The fix: Wash your hands immediately before you eat lunch or a snack, and use a paper towel when handling the faucet handle.
  • 2. Kitchen sponges

    The problem: Microbiologists found that kitchen sponges carried the most germs in the home.

    The fix: To sanitize, pop your wet kitchen sponge in the microwave for two minutes every day or wash it with your dishwasher's drying cycle. Replace your sponge at least every two weeks.
  • 3. Shopping carts

    The problem: Thanks to leaky meats, drippy produce, babies' bottoms and other hosts, shopping carts are chock-full of germs. One study found E. coli on 582 of 600 shopping carts studied.

    The fix: If your store doesn't provide disinfectant wipes, pack your own.
  • 4. Reusable shopping bags

    The problem: Researches who tested shoppers' bags in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tucson, found that half the bags were contaminated with bacteria, including E. coli.

    The fix: Wash your bags thoroughly every week to kill the bacteria that collects there.
  • 5. Any shared surface

    The problem: Germs proliferate when hundreds of people touch a surface daily. Top culprits are gas pump handles, mailboxes, parking meters and the buttons on ATMs, crosswalks and vending machines.

    The fix: To stop cold and flu viruses, use hand sanitizers and avoid touching your face.

Sources: University of Arizona; NSF International; California State University, Sacramento; U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tags: e. coli, flu, flu season, germs, shopping, slideshow
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  • Peter Balint

    Great story…direct and to the point

  • CarolMae

    What do you do when you have a dry cough? Also a bad headache is coming on and my body aches. I several medical problems that make vulnerable to infection.

  • Doris

    I wonder how often we weaken our immune systems by sanitizing to get rid of germs. Seriously, I think most of our health problems are because of articles like this that make the general public “germ-a-phobic.”

    • George MacDonald

      Yes, they forgot to mention all the germs that are on our own skin and in our mouths and noses…

      It is articles like this that make people believe that germs and infection are a black & white, on/off type thing.

      The truth is: germs are EVERYWHERE. The best defense is a strong immune system. (But few physicians can even talk about that — they haven’t been trained)

      • willit

        One of the germ infested thing we touch would be our Keys!!! We put them down everywhere…………..and we never wash them. Another biggie for me is the holy water in the Catholic Church I go to…….everybody puts their hands in that nasty water…………that’s just two things that ring bells in my head.

        • biggerjohn

          Have Faith!!!!!!

      • Searching17

        You are right! I read every article I find, but, do you know, what are the best ways to a better immune systems? I have chronic neuropathy, demyelinization, arthritis, had back surgery. I believe my immune system is slowly killing me, although I know we are all slowly dying…but, this is making the end of my life painful and distressing!

  • Community nurse
  • Christine Cummins

    Money should be on that list! It’s absolutely filthy. Think about all the unwashed hands it’s passed through on it’s way to you. When you work in any kind of business that deals with cash it’s imperative to wash your hands as often as possible. And remember to keep your hands away from your mouth, hands or eyes when working.

    • Susan

      Perhaps you meant to remind people to keep their hands away from your mouth, nose, or eyes, rather than from mouth, hands or eyes.

    • MPH

      I’ve always heard that but recently I read an article that stated the paper money has some sort of antibacterial coating or agent on it or in it and that metal is not a surface that a lot of bacteria etc thrive on. So….as usual, we get conflicting information. Better safe than sorry I guess.

  • John William Gaston

    Very informative article. Love to read all your postings!

  • Kitiemama

    Great information. Also, add restaurant menus to the list. Handled by hundreds and never sanitized.

  • Kathy Way

    This encourages germ-a-phobics so much….I don’t carry around paper towels and wet ones wherever I go and generally I am sick much less than those who do…

  • Constance Scanlon

    I don’t believe the virus enters through the mouth. Nose and eyes is the entrance for the cold virus .

  • Merrimary

    Carry your own pen to sign any forms……especially at medical offices!

  • Jackke Friend

    can’t read these tips cause they don’t stay on long enough. i want to read at my own pace not on a timer. ugh

  • Dave

    I would think public restroom faucets as opposed to office faucets would be among the worst but are not mentioned.