Are you obsessed with constantly washing your hands? Do you carry hand sanitizer with you that states on the label it kills 99.99% of all germs? If not, the following list of the top 9 dirtiest places might convince you to change your hand washing routine. Especially since we frequent most of these places on a daily basis.
1. Public restrooms
This one is obvious. While you may wash your hands and clean up after yourself (as one should in a publically shared space), not everyone is as conscientious. What is surprising is that the toilet seat is not the dirtiest place in a public bathroom. The dirtiest surfaces include the sink and the door handle on the way out.
Tip: The best way to remove residual bacteria after using the toilet and washing your hands is by drying your hands with a paper towel and avoiding the hand dryers.
2. Grocery stores
While strolling through the aisles in your favourite store you may want to remember that the fresh produce, dairy and meat stocked on the shelves and in the refrigerators are common carriers of bacteria. While this is normally not a problem, if the above-mentioned foods are not stored properly it may cause cross-contamination that can lead to increased food spoilage and foodborne illness. The dirtiest places in a grocery store include the trolley handles and the conveyor belts at the tills.
Tip: Wipe the handle with a sanitising wipe before shopping and remember to store refrigerated products as soon as you get home.
3. Public transport
Buses, trains, airplanes and taxis transport large amounts of people every day and more often than not, people are cramped together in a small space for an extended period of time. It makes it a lot easier for viruses to spread from one host to another. The dirtiest places in public transport include door handles, handrails, buttons and restrooms (in airplanes as well as buses and trains that travel far distances).
Tip: Avoid using the restrooms on public transport by visiting the bathroom before you leave. If this can’t be avoided, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag (or wipes if you’re flying) to remove any bacteria that can make you sick.
4. Doctors’ offices and waiting rooms
Again, obvious. You wouldn’t go to the doctor if you weren’t sick and the same goes for everyone else sitting in the waiting room with you. The door handle is the first dirty place you encounter as it is the first thing that everyone touches when they arrive. The dirtiest places also include magazines and newspapers, arm rests and children’s toys and crayons. So it’s best to avoid these if you don’t want to get even sicker.
Tip: Use the hand sanitising stations situated around these offices to remove the bacteria from your hands after visiting the doctor.
Everything in a gym is dirty. Most of the equipment is not cleaned properly (if at all) and by the time you get to use it, 50 other people have touched it. The changing rooms and showers aren’t much better as the humidity creates a breeding ground for the bacteria and fungi to grow and thrive.
Tip: If you are not headed out or to work after your session, rather shower at home. If you are not headed straight home, pack a pair of flip flops for the shower and use a good hygienic soap when bathing after your workout.
6. Your place of work
Your desk may not be as clean as you think it is. Your phone and keyboard host quite a number of bacteria that you carry around from the communal kitchen and bathroom. Also, some offices don’t have good air circulation so chances are as soon as one person falls ill, one or two (or six) other people will be sick a few days later. The bin in the kitchen, the communal fridge, the sponges and cloths are all items that are used by most people and might be the biggest reasons why bacteria and viruses spread so quickly between colleagues.
Tip: Clean the fridge, replace the sponges in the communal kitchen as often as possible and keep a bottle of sanitizer on your desk. Wipe the receiver of your phone, keyboard and mouse at least once a day to avoid a build-up of bacteria.
It’s no secret that viruses and bacteria can spread like wildfire through a school. It is extremely important that children are taught to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet and before eating lunch. You can’t control what or with whom your children interact during the day, but the lessons they learn will help them take care of themselves when you’re not around.
Tip: Teach them a 20-30 second song to sing while they’re washing their hands and tell them that they only stop washing once the song is over. If there is a bug going around, support your child’s immune system with a good multivitamin and a lot of fresh fruit and healthy vegetables.
8. Hotel rooms
These are usually cleaned every day. The sheets are replaced, bathrooms are tidied, bins are emptied and the overpriced water is restocked in the fridge. No one thinks about the TV remote, which is one of the dirtiest things in the room. Other dirty places in the room include the comforter on the bed, the taps in the bathroom and the toilet seat.
Tip: Stick to sleeping with the sheets, avoid the blankets and comforters. Dry your hands thoroughly after washing and wipe the remote before browsing through your favourite channels.
A restaurant doesn’t have to look dirty to be dirty. Even though you are not likely to get sick from the food, you may pick up a bug from the menu as it is handled by a lot of people and is most likely never wiped clean. The dirtiest items also include the salt and pepper shakers and bottles of condiments on the tables.
Tip: Clean your hands with sanitizing wipes after deciding what you are going to eat as well as before you eat it. Eat your food with utensils and not with your hands.