Are you ready to have some serious knowledge dropped on you? Some of the items that we use every single day without thinking are covered with more germs and bacteria than we could ever imagine. So get out that disinfectant, because no one is safe from the germs that are hiding in just about every corner of our homes.
1. The ATM
We come to ATM machines to get a few bills out of our bank accounts, but apparently when people visit these money-dispensing machines, they are walking away with a lot more than cash. That is because these machines are completely covered with germs and bacteria that can transfer directly and very easily from the ATM to a person’s hands.
We can never really know what people touched before they went to the ATM and got their fingers all over its buttons. Scientists once tested a number of machines in New York City and found traces of foods like fish, chicken, rotting plants, and dairy products, and these microbes were found on both outdoor and indoor machines.
Purses are super convenient. We can pack basically our whole lives into them before we head out the front door, and throughout the day small odds and ends get added and stored inside our purse collections. Got an unnecessary receipt? Throw it in the purse. And that coin we found on the subway floor? Toss it in there.
It is no wonder why scientists warn that a purse filled with our personal belongings can also be filled with germs. And what is even worse? We constantly stick our hands deep inside of our handbags and then go on to touch our faces or hold a loved one’s hands. Hope you’ve got some Purell in there, too!
3. Cell Phones
We now live in an age where our phones are basically attached to our hands. We bring them everywhere, from the park to the kitchen, from the living room to the bathroom. And all that time, they are collecting bacteria along the way.
Researchers once took samples from 390 cell phones and found that almost every one of them were covered in bacteria, including E. coli, staph, and strep. In fact, some research says that a cell phone can be 10 times more dirty than a standard toilet seat. So think about that the next time anyone puts their phone up to their face — or puts it next to themselves in bed.
4. Bed Sheets
Here’s a little pillow talk. We might love to curl up in our warm bed sheets, and many days it is admittedly pretty hard to leave them. We will admit that some days we rarely do. But the experience is not as cozy once one learns about all of the bacteria that can gather in bed sheets.
It turns out that germs love hanging out in our beds as much as we do. Bed sheets are warm, can have dark crevices, and if someone sweats at night, they can get a little damp. All of those conditions make for the perfect home for some bacteria and fungus to breed and multiply. This is why people are urged to wash those bed sheets once a week.
5. Computer Keyboard
There are many days at work where assignments have stacked up so high that there might not be time to go and enjoy a 30-minute or hour-long lunch break. Instead, sometimes we have to face the reality of eating lunch above our office keyboards.
But there is a lot more to worry about when it comes to keyboards beyond the crumbs that might gather in between the keys. People are constantly touching the keys on these machines, and we are going to bet that many of them do not wash their hands beforehand. To play it safe, regularly shut down the computer, shake out the keyboard, and go over the keys with a wet wipe.
6. Soap Dispensers
Washing our hands is a must after visiting any bathroom, especially after a trip to a public restroom. But in the process of using one of those handy soap dispensers that are left by the sinks, ironically enough, we could be collecting even more germs than we had to begin with.
Think about it. The steady stream of people who are going to these public restrooms each and every day are usually pressing their fingers on the soap dispensers even before they have thoroughly rinsed their hands. So all of those germs are left there to collect right on the nozzle. Talk about a catch-22!
7. Restaurant Menus
We would like to order one basket of fries with a side of bacteria, please. At a restaurant, there are people crowded around a space, with even more people in the kitchen preparing our meals. But in fact, one of the most germ-ridden parts of your friendly local eatery can be found right there on the menu.
There is no telling where anyone has been before they sit in their restaurant booth and pick up that laminated menu. And as if that was not gross enough, touching those menus usually comes right before a customer is served their meal. So let’s just say that we suggest everyone washes their hands after placing their orders.
8. Cutting Board
When it comes to clean surfaces in one’s home, cutting boards are not making the cut. Sure, a wooden cutting board might look a little bit better than that bright-colored plastic one lying around the house, but it can carry much more bacteria.
That is because wooden cutting boards are able to soak up more than their plastic or glass counterparts. When it comes to slicing meat, researchers say that a cook should never use a wooden cutting board, since the juices can be absorbed and stay there. One study even found that wooden cutting boards contain up to 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Dinner is served!
9. Ice Cubes
Here’s the cold truth about ice: it is actually pretty dirty. One study from North Carolina State University found that there is frozen bacteria living in the ice cubes. That’s right, bacteria like E. coli and salmonella can survive even in freezing temperatures, and oftentimes can find new life in our drinks.
It turns out that the ice-making machines that are found in most restaurants are not thoroughly cleaned very often, and can become a place where bacteria builds up. Some research has even found that 70 percent of ice found in fast food restaurants have just as much, if not more, bacteria than toilet water. We’ll take that next drink without ice, please.
We use sponges to clean up our dirty dishes after cooking. But are we really cleaning anything with these things? Sponges can actually be one of the dirtiest objects in any kitchen, yet somehow they’ve become synonymous with cleaning. It turns out that all those small holes and crevices are the perfect wet, dark conditions that serve as ideal spots for bacteria to live and thrive.
A study from NSF International found that many kitchen sponges are riddled with germs that contain yeast, mold, staph, and other bacteria. In order to make cleaning products actually clean, many recommend popping a sponge in the microwave and zapping it for one to two minutes every day.
Anyone who has ever taken the time and money to get their carpets professionally cleaned knows that the experience can be an eye-opening one. It is almost mesmerizing to watch carpet cleaners quickly suck the dirt out of a floor, dispensing crystal clear water only to have it turn black after coming into contact with the deep layers of a carpet.
A human being is estimated to shed about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every minute of every day. And in our homes, where do much of them end up? Why, dug right into that wall-to-wall carpeting, of course. That’s enough to have us rethink that five-second rule next time someone drops a piece of food on the rug.
12. Shopping Carts
No matter if you’re sick or healthy, an introvert or an extrovert, we always need groceries. And for those who don’t have the luxury of getting their groceries delivered, they must face the often clumsy task of having to push their heavy cart through the rows of grocery store shelves.
And while there might be a cleanup in aisle two, there really is no telling when was the last time the grocery cart itself might have received a wipe-down. But when we consider how many people are putting their hands all over that metal bar that comes on the back of a shopping cart, is really is no surprise that carts become a gathering place for germs.
13. Elevator Buttons
Going up? Or throwing up? We are not quite sure which one we want to do more after learning a bit more about elevator buttons. Here are just a few numbers that go with casually pressing the floor number on an elevator. Brace yourself, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
According to one study, 61 percent of elevator buttons had evidence of microbiological growths, compared to just 43 percent of toilet seats that had the same. In fact, some research has suggested that elevator have 40 times more germs than a toilet seat in a public restroom, with an average of 313 colony-forming units found on these small buttons.
This doorknob is about to take a turn for the worst. Door handles are often the most touched thing in a person’s home. Think about how easy it is to use them without thinking — not to mention that there is really no avoiding having to turn a doorknob. And because of this, these household objects are usually the ones that spread viruses the fastest.
Researchers once put this to the test, and left a weakened trace of a virus on a door handle in an office space. By the end of the day, they found that the virus had traveled throughout the office, and had been picked up by 40 to 60 percent of the people working in the building.
15. Dog Toys
Ever heard anyone say that their dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s? Well, that science is actually not very cut and dry. But there is one undeniable fact: a dog’s old chew toy is definitely one of the germiest things that can be in a person’s home.
Studies have shown that little Spot’s chew toy can also be the the home for coliform bacteria, staph, yeast, and mold. Rope and fabric toys, along with plastic toys, can have plenty of tiny, wet crevices where bacteria just love to live. So consider sticking that rubber toy in the dishwasher on occasion, and putting the fabric ones in with the rest of the laundry.
16. Car Gears
Now that we have turned everyone into a germophobe, we are about to kick that fear into full gear. Sure, there are some obvious places where bacteria collects, and oftentimes we make sure to spray them down every once in a while. But the most secretly sinister of objects are the ones that we touch daily and never even think about.
One example of this is found in every car. The car gears are one of the first things that people touch when they enter their vehicles, but they are one of the last things that people think of when they wash down their cars. All the while, the buttons and gear stick are gathering more and more bacteria.
17. Remote Controls
We touch our remote controls, then as we watch the television, we go on to subconsciously touch our faces, our mouths, our couches, their surfaces, and then just about everything in our homes. And most times, naturally, people do not even think about the amount of other folks who have touched the remotes beforehand.
Researchers say that there are about 70 different bacteria found in every square inch of a remote control — and that is just the estimated bacteria found in remotes kept in family homes. There is said to be even more on the remote controls found in hotel rooms across the world. Happy channel-surfing!
18. Office Desks
Some of the dirtiest everyday objects in homes include telephones, cell phones, computers, keyboards, computer mice, dirty cups, and infrequently cleaned surfaces. Can anyone think where all of those things live in once place? That’s right, they all happily congregate right there on a person’s office or home office desk.
Some office desks are said to have 400 times more bacteria than an average household bathroom. That information is enough reason for just about anyone to call in a sick day. So it seems like our work might actually be making us sick, or that at least maybe we should take the time to finally move everything off of our desks and give them a good clean.
Aren’t toothbrushes supposed to be used to make teeth clean? Well, technically, yes. And one would think that with all that toothpaste that is said to kill germs in our mouths, that our toothbrushes would be safe from lingering bacteria. But that is not exactly the case.
A toothbrush’s cleanliness has less to do about the toothbrush itself and more to do with where one keeps it. Some toothbrushes are said to carry more than 100 million bacteria, such as E. coli, staph, and fecal germs. Scientists say that those all have to do with the fact that many people keep their toothbrushes in a place that is exposed and near a toilet. Gross.
20. Computer Mouse
For the biggest of germophobes, sometimes it is nice to stay away from the germ-filled world and dive headfirst into the Internet, learning random facts and seeing hilarious videos along the way. But even scrolling through an Internet feed could mean exposing oneself to a whole host of bacteria.
A survey by a UK company called Initial Washroom Hygiene found that an average computer mouse could have three times more bacteria on it than the average toilet. Other studies have shown that a mouse could have as many as 1,600 germs per square inch. It is actually thought to be one of the dirtiest gadgets that one could have in their home. Best bet is to try and keep it squeaky clean.
21. Sink Drains
Sure, the bathroom as a whole is often given a bad rap. This room gets no love and is usually blamed with having the most germs and bacteria, and is sometimes considered the grossest. But it is actually the kitchen that should have gotten all the hate this whole time.
Even when comparing sinks alone, sinks in kitchens are said to contain far more bacteria than bathroom sinks. According to CBS News, one study found that 45 percent of kitchen sinks tested positive for coliform bacteria and 27 percent had evidence of mold. Some kitchen sinks are said to have 500,000 bacteria per square inch.
Our bills live an interesting life of constant travel from a person’s hands to a tip jar, from a cash register to a vending machine. And as these forms of paper currency are being passed around the world, they all pick up and carry many of the germs and bacteria that they come in contact with on the journey.
It is no surprise that that adventure has led every bill to be covered in thousands of germs, ranging from just about any bacteria and other substances that anyone can think of. And since U.S. dollars are made of paper, there really is no way to get a dollar clean.
23. Coffee Maker
We will let everyone have their first cup of coffee before they learn about this next item on our list. All settled in? Good. For many, the coffee machine in their homes is the first place they go to every single morning, before they do pretty much everything — like, say, wash their hands.
And we are going to bet that many do not wash their hands after using the machine. But now they might. It turns out that coffee machines create an ideal environment for mold and yeast bacteria. All of those warm, dark places are just begging for some bacteria build-up.
24. Reusable Water Bottles
More and more people are deciding to invest in reusable plastic water bottles in order to help save the planet. But in an effort not to do harm to the Earth, some might be doing harm to their own health. That is because these reusable water bottles are often covered in bacteria.
One study in Brazil tested 30 random water bottles at a neighborhood gym, and found that 83 percent of those were covered in bacteria, including staph and E. coli. Another study found that the water bottles of 12 athletes were more contaminated than a dog toy. Make sure to wash these delightful statistics down with a (clean) bottle of water.
25. Dish Rag
So if a sponge is dirty and a paper towel is wasteful, some might think that it might be best to wash off the kitchen using a dish rag. Well, think again. It seems that nowhere is safe, including that reusable towel left next to the sink.
That is because dish towels are often not used for just one purpose. People grab that dish towel for a minute to wipe off their plates and bowls, and the next minute they use it to dry their hands. As a result, it is estimated that the average dishcloth has about 10 million bacteria per square inch. Here’s to hoping that that’s a small dish towel.
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