Beware: Germs Lurking!

Melanie Rovinsky

Does it feel like every person you come in contact with lately is infected with some sort of illness? Sick of holding your breath for an hour during math because the kid next to you is hacking his brains out? Avoiding the movie theater because the incessant sneezing coming from all directions makes you feel as if there is more than butter on your popcorn?

Your avoidant behaviors are probably not protecting you from all of the germs you are hoping to escape. And although the swine flu outbreak has taught us to scrub our hands frequently, we may not be washing often enough. Recent medical studies have shown that germs are lurking on some of the most common surfaces.

On behalf of the ABC News Medical Unit and Yahoo Shine, I would like to strongly caution you to beware of the germs creeping on the following places:

Purses and Wallets are breeding grounds for germs. Women often place their bags on the floor of public places, unintentionally picking up viruses and bacteria. And we’ve all been warned about the germy-nature of money, but what many men don’t realize is that the wallets they keep toasty in their pockets are warmed by body heat to the perfect bacteria-breeding temperature.

The Remote Control is often a sick person’s best friend… a best friend that is never given a bath. Remote controls in our homes, as well as in hotel rooms, are covered with germs from constantly being handled and never being disinfected.

Laundry Machines may be responsible for getting out those nasty stains, but they are also responsible for spreading nasty germs. Because most people do not wash their clothes at high enough temperatures or dry them for more than 45 minutes, seemingly clean clothes are actually quite dirty. Very disturbingly, there is approximately 0.1 gram of fecal matter in the average person’s underwear; this amount translates to about 100 million E. coli bacteria.

Cutting Boards contain about 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Cutting boards should be cleaned with a bleach-based product after each use. However, they are usually rinsed off with nothing but lukewarm water.

Telephones get covered with germs on two levels: hand-to-surface contact and saliva. Generally, the mouthpiece is dirtier than the rest of the phone.

Salt and Pepper Shakers are often the staple on every dinner table, but unlike the dishes, these little buggers are hardly ever washed or wiped down. Surprisingly, they contain some of the highest concentrations of germs compared to other items in your house.

Sponges are used to wipe off germy surfaces, but they are never disinfected afterwards. Are you washing the dishes or just spreading the germs around?

The moral of the story? Wash your hands more often – even when you think you haven’t touched anything infected. However, be careful, sink faucets are notoriously germy places.