5 Seemingly Harmless Things You NEED to Wash Your Hands After Touching
By now, most of us understand and recognize the importance of washing our hands throughout the day. We keep antibacterial soap by all sinks and have hand sanitizers handy in our pockets and purses. We’re all aware of the obvious occasions that call for hand hygiene, like after finishing bathroom duties or extended hand-shaking filled networking.
But what about the less obvious germ-filled moments? As it turns out, many of the objects we have come to think of as “benign” or “harmless” surfaces or materials are laced with germs and crawling with bacteria. Yikes! We’re counting down the top five “harmless” bacteria culprits that you touch on a regular – potentially daily – basis.
The Water Fountain Button
The water cooler is a great place to catch some gossip – and your next cold. According to research conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional and The Healthy Workplace Project, of the 5,000 surfaces swabbed for active bacteria across several office spaces, one of the biggest culprits was the seemingly-innocent water-button fountain. Remember to use your shirtsleeve when pressing the button or promptly disinfect your hands after hydrating.
The Washing Machine
You’d think that the washing machine would be one of the cleanest areas, it is in fact for cleaning, right? Wrong! For one thing, your washing machine comes in contact with dozens of garments every time you do laundry. According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona, a single load of undergarments transfers roughly 500 million E. coli bacteria to the machine. Plus, if you’re using a front-loading machine, which can’t always expel all the water from one wash, these bacteria are waiting for you until your next load. In other words, you’re washing your clothes with contaminated, bacteria-infested water!
To combat this, wash your whites first in chlorine bleach, followed by a load of underwear using hot water and a color-safe bleach substitute. Bring it to the next level by running an empty cycle with just bleach once a month to sanitize your machine and reduce the number of residual bacterial left on your clothes.
The Car’s Gearshift
A 2010 experiment swabbed 12 ordinary items in a suburban family’s home for the presence of bacteria, including E. coli and the staph infection. The findings were shocking. One of the biggest culprits was a gearshift contaminated wit high levels of bacteria and bolds. Turns out, drivers often pick up multiple mould spores on the way to their cars, then carry those spores into the vehicle and seal themselves inside with contaminants. Yuck!
To combat these bacteria, try wearing driving gloves, give your car a regular wipe down with antibacterial wipes and disinfect your hands immediately after getting out of the car.
The Communal Pen
It’s often said that the pen is mightier than the sword – and this holds true when it comes to bacteria. According to a study by the University of Virginia investigating the prevalence of rhinoviruses (the germs responsible for the common cold) in hotels, an unusually large number of virus particles were found on hotel pens. It’s safe to say that these findings are transferable to all communal pens, whether they be in banks, grocery stores or department stores.
To steer clear of these harmful bacteria leaching in unassuming public places, opt to carry your own pen and have it handy for these circumstances or sanitize immediately after giving your signature.
Turns out, your riches may be making you sick! According to a 2002 Ohio study, 94 percent of $1 bills contained disease-causing bacteria. Other studies prove this issue to be universal, with swabbed hands, coins, currency and credit cards all testing extremely high in mould, bacteria and fecal matter. In fact, some even had high residual stains of fungi known to cause diseases, like E. coli, staph, salmonella and klebsiella.
Be sure to keep that hand sanitizer handy for whenever you’re handling money – especially at restaurants or handling food.
Check out this video on how to make your own hand sanitizer!