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  • What You Need to Know About Germs

    Arm yourself with this eye-opening list.

    Get smart about how you pick up germs throughout the day

    Your clean and sanitized home would make any neat freak proud, but that’s where your reign of tidiness ends. Once you step outside each morning, you’re encountering a world of dirty surfaces covered in a bevy of bacteria, viruses and microorganisms.

    While the reality is that nearly all microorganisms are harmless, nasty, disease-carrying pathogens do exist. It’s therefore smart to do whatever you can to stop germs from entering your sanctuary. The most obvious way to thwart insidious invaders is to avoid germy surfaces in the first place.

    • Here are some top offenders.

      • Restaurant menus: They rarely get wiped down, and you never know what germs were lurking on the hands of the person who held it before you.
      • Cash and coins: A study from the Oxford University and MasterCard reveals that more germs exist on a coin than on a toilet seat*.
      • Lemon wedge garnish: A study in the Journal of Environmental Health reports “restaurant patrons should be aware that lemon slices added to beverages may include potentially pathogenic microbes**.” 
      • Condiment dispensers
      • Restroom door handles
      • Gas pumps: 71 percent of pump handles are contaminated with germs, according to a study conducted by a University of Arizona professor and Kimberly-Clark Professional***.
      • The ice in your drink
      • Soap dispensers
      • Office desk: Desks can carry 400 times more dangerous bacteria than an average public toilet seat, according to a Tork sustainability report****.
      • Grocery carts
      • Airplane bathrooms
      • Doctor’s office waiting room
      • The water fountain at your children’s school: Microbiologists at NSF International found that at two schools, the drinking water spigots had more germs than—you guessed it—a toilet*****.

      Aside from avoiding the aforementioned germ traps, the very best thing you can do to fend off pathogens from sneaking into your home is to have family members wash their hands for 20 seconds with warm water immediately upon entering the house. Further, the Centers for Disease Control encourages homeowners to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs (think faucets, countertops, appliance handles and toilets)******.

      Of course, it’s impossible to avoid germs entirely, and some will breach your defenses despite your best efforts. Just remember that while you may never win this war, it’s worth fighting the battle.