What's the dirtiest place you regularly come into contact with? No, it's not the toilet. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average office desk may harbor 400 times more germs than the toilet seat. Taken from Medhelp.org
The Kitchen The sponges and dishrags you use to scrub counters and plates are actually teeming with bacteria, such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus and E. coli, according to the University of Arizona. To keep your scrubbers (and your kitchen!) germ-free, microwave sponges or run them through the dishwasher. Microwaving sponges for one minute kills 99.99999 percent of bacteria present on them, while dishwashing with a dry cycle kills 99.9998 percent of bacteria.
The Bathroom The bathtub, shower curtain, sink and even your toothbrush and toothbrush holder harbor tons of bacteria - and don't receive the same scouring your commode does. Disinfect the entire bathroom once a week with an antibacterial cleaner or a bleach solution. Also, change your shower curtain liner regularly, spritz your bathtub basin and tiles daily with a shower cleaner and replace your toothbrush once a month (or after you've gotten over an illness).
At Home: TV remote How often do you wipe down the remote? Probably never. Yet you (and every member of your household) curl up with it when you're sick and touch it with food-soiled hands while eating in front of the TV. To keep bacteria buildup at bay, wipe all remotes with a disinfectant wipe every other day, especially if someone is sick. Don't forget video game consoles, too, if you have one.
The office: Your desk Whether it's from eating at your desk, pawing the keyboard or phone or grabbing the shared stapler, you can touch more than 30 bacteria-ridden surfaces in your own personal workspace in under a minute, says CNN.com. Some viruses and bacteria can live and potentially infect a person for two hours or longer after being deposited on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks (the flu virus can last up to eight hours!). De-bug your work by cleansing your keyboard, mouse, phone and desk with disinfectant wipes once a week. Also, be sure to clean coffee pot handles, doorknobs and other common surfaces daily.
The office: Elevator buttons Touched by everyone who works in your high rise and anyone who visits, these buttons are overrun with germs. Politely ask someone else to push the button to your destination or, if you're riding solo, use a knuckle to hit your floor and then wash your hands with soap and hot water once you reach your destination.
On You: Money Research suggests that money can buy you more than material objects; it can buy you sick days, too. Paper currency is commonly contaminated with bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and pneumonia, several strains of the flu virus can live on bank notes for 10 to 17 days. Because paper money is traded between hands at a high exchange rate, keep bills inside your wallet to keep bacteria from spreading to your clothes or other objects in your purse. And wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after each transaction.
On You: Cell Phone You take this little device everywhere - the grocery store, PTA meetings and some even take it into the bathroom (eew). So any germs that your cell phone picks up from a grimy checkout counter, a dirty school desk or the top of the toilet are immediately transmitted to your hands, cheeks, ears and mouth at your first hello. Because disease-causing pathogens can thrive for weeks on your phone, cleanse it with a disinfecting wipe daily.
On You: Handbags and Backpacks Like your cell phone, your handbag or backpack travels anywhere you do. But unlike your mobile device, your bag spends the majority of its time sitting on the floor of restaurants, bathroom stalls and the bus or subway floor. These places can be hotbeds of germs, like E. coli and Salmonella, which happily hitch a ride on the bottom of your bag and get deposited wherever you put your purse down - like the kitchen counter or dining room table. Whether you're at home or out and about, hang your bag up off the floor and brush off any extra dust and dirt. If possible, wash or wipe down your bag regularly with warm soapy water to reduce germs.
The Gym: Machines Working out can help boost your immunity, but touching the communal machines at the gym can lead to harmful health issues. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, gym equipment provides the perfect living environment for many different types of fungi, viruses and bacteria that cause painful skin diseases. Before you jump on a machine, fully bandage all open wounds to prevent infection, and, after your workout, make sure you practice excellent hand hygiene.
The Gym: Mats While you may use your mat to channel full body relaxation, the bacteria from the gym floor, your hands and your feet are working double time to make your mat a germ-infested environment. What to do? Wipe down the mat with disinfecting wipes before and after each use and wash your hands right after touching it. If it's your own mat, also scrub it down with warm soapy water at least once a week.
The Gym: Communal Showers Crawling on the tiles of the communal showers in places like gym locker rooms is an extremely contagious form of ringworm, otherwise known as athlete's foot. When picked up by bare feet, the athlete's foot fungus can infect the skin under your toenails, between your toes and on the soles of your feet, according to Medicinenet.com. Remember to put a layer between you and these germs by donning flip flops as soon as you remove your sneakers and make sure to wear them in the shower, too.
The Mall: Make-Up Testers or perfume bottles Do you try on new makeup or touch up your mascara and lipstick with the free testers at your favorite cosmetics counter? According to Prevention magazine, not only can bacteria like Staphylococcus and E. coli be crawling on the outer casings of make-up testers, but herpes can be contracted if the previous lipstick applier had a cold sore, while pinkeye can emerge from contaminated eye pencils and mascara. The safest route when it comes to sampling make-up: don't use testers at all. Try out a new lipstick shade on the back of your hand and wash up before and after testing. How many people stop to spritz a little fragrance on their way in or out of the store- these also have bacteria on the bottles and nozzles when you pick them up. Have the sales person spritz a piece of paper for you to take with you or if you must indulge make sure you practice good hand hygiene after wards.
Public Places: ATM Buttons Grabbing some quick cash at the ATM may mean that you are picking up more than just a couple of extra bucks. ATM buttons carry more bacteria than the doorknobs of most public bathrooms. Next time you make a stop at the bank, use your knuckle to enter your PIN and then follow up with a lathering of alcohol-based gel to rid your hands of grime from the machine and from the dough it dispensed.
Public Places: Grocery Store Not only are shopping carts touched by hundreds of hands daily (and by a few mouths and tongues of youngsters sitting behind the handlebars), but they also harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Before you begin your shopping spree, wipe down the cart handle with a disinfectant wipe, which many grocery stores now provide. And don't pop any food like free samples in your mouth without washing your hands first.
Airplane: Air Trapped on a plane in close proximity with 100 or more passengers is the perfect recipe for the spread of germs. Germs that cause the common cold and the flu can be spread through "infected" plane air as can more serious airborne diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis and SARS. Practice good hand hygiene and wear a mask for extra protection if you're immune compromised. If you are sick, respect your health and the health of others by postponing your flight until you are better.
Airplane: Bathroom Using the restroom on a plane is something that most dread, but on long flights it's unavoidable. With the toilet, the sink and the counter packed into a room not much larger than your seat, one flush causes the E. coli in the toilet bowl to spray onto the faucet handles, the counters and the door handle. After a thorough hand washing, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door. Once back at your seat, follow up with a dollop of hand sanitizer gel for good measure.
Airplane: Seats While airplane travelers come and go fairly quickly, the bacteria on their hands, clothes and luggage remain permanent passengers, occupying the seats, armrests, pillows and blankets. To avoid bringing extra visitors home from your trip, SmarterTravel.com suggests wiping down armrests and tray tables with disinfectant wipes (since germs can live on these surfaces for an entire day), refraining from placing items in the seatback pockets, and bringing your own pillow and blanket for those up-in-the-air naps; just remember to wash them as soon as you get home.
Follow these simple directions and have a healthy holiday season!