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You can hear someone with a cold coming - their cough, their countenance, their sniffle, even the grogginess of their voice - so you keep your distance for your own protection. Against common thinking, viruses are not spread from being around coughing or sneezing, or even walking outside in the cold with wet hair; but rather from hand-to-hand contact.

Your first thought of the dirtiest place germs spread might be the bathroom, but toilet seats are some of the cleanest places you touch every day because people make a conscious effort to clean them regularly.  You are more likely to get a cold virus from pens, computer keyboards, stair railings, and other community objects, so it's easy to come into contact with such viruses during daily life. 


  • Self-checkout screens - 50 per cent of self-checkout screens are contaminated with fecal matter. Companies recognizing the demand for germ-free touch screens by inventing solutions like Gorilla Glass, which is coated in an antibacterial film that kills off germs on its own.

  • Elevator buttons - especially the ground floor one. Everyone goes to the ground floor so it is the most pushed.

  • Reusable bags:  Kuddos for bringing your bags to the grocery store (even more kuddos for bringing them to all stores); but they are major germ carriers.  People rarely clean them, especially with grocery shopping and purchasing raw meat.  99% of bags carry bacteria such as coliform and E.coli

  • Hand towels - If you don't wash your hands properly you leave lingering bacteria, which then gets transferred to the towel. This is a playground for bacteria as it grows in moist places - the state most hand towels live in.  Wash hand towels every two days or better yet, change out daily.

  • Coffee pot handles -  After workers press the ground floor button of the elevator, slides their hand down a stair railing or touches a seat on pubic transport; their first stop when arriving at work is for the communal caffeine station. Fifty per cent of coffeepot handles at businesses contain coliform bacteria. Coffee pots tend to just get rinsed out because no one wants to wash it or they think rinsing is enough.

  • Purses and Wallets - Purses pick up the bacteria from wherever placed -- bathroom floors, soiled ground, floor of car. Even worse, the purse then goes on the kitchen countertop when you get home spreading the germs in edible areas. Wallets have its own claim to bacteria-fame: paper currency picks up germs, viruses and often trace amounts of illegal drugs.  Several studies have confirmed that a majority of U.S. currency contains trace amounts of cocaine. The problem isn't as bad with coins, largely because the metals -- particularly nickel -- often kill many of the bacteria.  It is the paper money that is more the culprit.

  • Remote Control - Often the dirtiest object in a hotel room and not terribly clean at home either.  Think of cleaning it often, especially when you are about to eat popcorn on the couch watching a movie.  

  • Laundry Machines - and not public ones! Home is just as contaminated as public laundromats .  There is about 0.1 gram of fecal material in a piece of underwear which equals approximately 100 million E. coli bacteria in an average undergarment load.* If you don't use very hot water to wash clothes and dry them for a full 45 minutes, then you are giving bacteria a new home. Even transferring wet clothes to the dryer risks a slew of contamination on your hands. 

  • Cutting Board - There are 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than a toilet seat.*  Many people rinse them off rather than thoroughly washing it.

  • Phone -Your hands and mouth double dose your phone with germs and the mouthpiece is often even dirtier than the handle.

  • Water Fountains - The moist surface area on the average water fountain is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. 

  • Airplane bathrooms - This might be an obvious one; but just to put it in perspective, average aircraft has one bathroom per 50-70 people and only has a very small sink to clean up which is very ineffective.  

  • Shopping Carts - We know the push-bar on a cart is plagued with bacteria: but what about the seat?  Maybe a toddler was occupying the seat before you?  That toddler might have a soiled diaper and you just put your fresh organic broccoli right in the same spot. 

  • Soap dispensers - You thought they were a sure thing!  About a quarter of the of the soap dispensers in public restrooms pump out viable bacteria due to the contamination that happens with refilling them and public pumping them.  These gems are commonly the cause of respiratory, blood and wound infections. Automated dispensers with sealable refills cut down the rate of gems and dispense the appropriate amount which is wonderful for the environment. Studies show people may leave restrooms with more germs on their hands than before washing.

  • Restaurant menus - Cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus—and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order.


Ninety percent of humans are composed of germ cells; but only a small minority will cause any harm.   Being exposed to a cold virus does not have to mean that you'll catch a cold. If your immune system is operating at its peak, it should actually be quite easy for you to fend off the virus without ever getting sick. Avoid eating too much sugar and too many grains, get enough rest, manage stress & don't forget your daily Vitamin D.

* Dr. Charles Gerba, germ expert

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