Germs, Germs and More Germs


After reading this article you may have wished you didn’t. My wife claims that I have ruined air travel for her for the rest of her life. As the cold and flu season approaches, I thought it may be a good idea identifying some of the most germ ridden areas for both inside and outside of your home. Proper care and precautions can greatly reduce the chance of coming down with a serious infectious disease this season.

The following information is not for the squeamish. So if you are brave, hold on as we stroll down germ lane.

This may not come as a surprise to many of you, but the number one worst spot in your home is the kitchen sponge. Over 1.2 billion dangerous germs have been found on a single kitchen sponge. The sponge is quickly followed by the kitchen sink, kitchen counter-top, kitchen floor, telephone and refrigerator door handle. Surprisingly the bathroom toilet bowl has lower levels of germs than many parts of your kitchen. But one thing you may have not considered is the phenomenon of toilet plume. A plume of contaminated water droplets that are ejected into the air every time a toilet is flushed. This bacterial, viral and fecal filled aerosol lands on everything in your bathroom including your toothbrush. Closing the lid before flushing or finding a covered location for your toothbrush or any other items in your bathroom may be a wise move.

Outside of Home
Your office has several areas of concern, from the keyboard, fax machine and copier. The number one germiest object is the phone followed quickly by your desktop. The phone is typically the dirtiest piece of equipment because it goes straight to your mouth and it is usually never cleaned or disinfected. Traveling becomes another big concern during the holiday season, especially air travel. Not only the confined air space on a plane leads to the exchange of germs between passengers, but the infamous toilet plume is even more of an issue. Plane toilets use more force in the flushing action which promotes a more significant plume of fecal and other waste matter, which covers all surfaces in the small enclosed area. Have you ever noticed the condensation or streaks left by water droplets on the walls? The floor of the airplane restroom is covered with a layer of this waste mist. This material is transferred to the carpets as passenger leave and return to their seats. You may give a second thought before removing your shoes while in your seat.

Another item that is frequently overlooked, but has a significant amount of germs and bacteria is the television remote control in hotel and motel rooms. Some of the most nastiest germs have taken up residence on the remote control. It is an item that is never cleaned or disinfected and in many circumstances can be considered the most germ ridden item in the room. I have taken to carrying zip lock bags in my suitcase and upon entering a hotel room, I quickly place the remote control into one of the baggies.

What can be done?
Washing your hands several times a day is your best bet. Passing your hands quickly under running water or a quick rubbing of hands with soap is not enough. Use plenty of warm water and cleanse your hands with soap as long as it takes you to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Most likely to yourself and not out loud. Hand sanitizers work well as a accompaniment for cleansing but not as a replacement for frequent hand washing with soap and water. For the kitchen, disinfect sinks and counter-tops regularly with a disinfectant or a solution of bleach and water (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Place your kitchen sponge in the dishwasher, washing machine on a regular basis. Also placing the kitchen sponge in the microwave for 30 seconds kills a majority of germs and bacteria’s. Refrain from eating at your desk and clean and disinfect both the phone and other areas on and around your desk area regularly. By following these simple suggestions you may help reduce your chance of falling ill during this cold and flu season.

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