Getting sick is a bummer. Not only does it ruin your day, but a weekend trip or vacation can be annihilated! It’s fairly common knowledge that the main cause of illness is the dreaded germ. But avoiding germs completely is impossible, short of locking yourself in a bubble.
Being informed of the main hangouts for germs is an important first step to prevention.
One of the main places that germs like to congregate is your kitchen sink. Running water means an area that is consistently moist, creating the perfect place for germs. There are more than 1,000 times as many germs in a kitchen sink as a toilet. A particularly dirty place is the screen on the end of the faucet where bacteria grows, spreading to anything placed beneath the stream. The garbage disposal can also be a germ trap, often layered with bacteria from raw meat or chicken.
Prevention: At least once a week, remove the screen of your faucet and the disposal’s rubber stopper and soak a few minutes in a diluted bleach solution, soap and water is not enough. After reattaching them, flush with hot water before using.
Think about how many people touch doorknobs in a day. They rarely (if ever) get cleaned.
Prevention: When using the restroom, use a paper towel to open the door after washing your hands. Otherwise, use hand sanitizer once you’re out of the bathroom.
Salt and pepper shakers, along with condiment bottles, are rarely wiped down. With the daily hand traffic, there’s no telling how many germs are calling theses bottle surfaces home.
Prevention: Use hand sanitizer often.
In a recent study, almost all cell phones and desk phones were found to have bacteria growth, and 15% of those were growing bacteria known to cause infection. Most people give no thought where the place their cell phones. But surfaces can pass germs along to the very object that has the most direct contact with your hands and face.
Prevention: Use a disinfecting wipe a few times a week.
Many would say the worst part about getting gas is the high price, but evidence shows that 71% of pumps are covered in germs that can cause sickness. Since an unknown amount of people touch gas pumps each day, there is no telling how many germs are hiding under the pump.
Prevention: Use a paper towel to touch the pump, or use hand sanitizer or wet naps after pumping.
Lemon and lime are a great additive to your water because they provide many health benefits, along with flavor. However, most bars will add a lemon or lime wedge as a garnish to a beverage, which typically is NOT healthy. The wedges generally are kept in one big container, which is touched by multiple utensils and fingers throughout the night, and rarely switched out or cleaned.
Prevention: Think twice about your garnishes the next time you are out and about, and avoid them if at all possible.
Airplanes are one of the easiest places to catch a cold. Studies show that spending hours in a confined space and sharing recycled air with others, increases your risk 100 times to contract an illness. Studies have also found E. coli on many surfaces on planes, including all over the bathrooms and seats.
Prevention: If your ego won’t allow you to wear a mask on a plane, at least consume immune boosting foods before jumping on the next plane. Vitamin filled capsules such as Airborne can be helpful as well.
Since cold and flu viruses can survive for up to 18 hours on hard surfaces, grocery carts are a magnet for germ survival. Germs combined with hundreds of people handling food and touching carts is a perfect combination to grow bacteria.
Prevention: Utilize the hand sanitizer that many grocers provide, or bring your own. Use sanitizer before and after shopping.
By Katie Sapp, Industry Writer