Down and dirty

Posted on Mar 02 2022 in From the Editor
Emily with hand sanitizer bottle

I remember eating dirt as a preschooler totally oblivious to the fact that it was, well, dirty. And, in the not-so-distant past, though I certainly washed my hands throughout the day, I rarely used disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. I would, I suppose, when I wasn’t near a faucet before digging into my French fries at lunchtime. But I certainly never did before grabbing and pushing a shopping cart at the grocery store.

Nowadays, most of us are on high alert for germs, and we think twice before touching anything on which nasty bacteria may be lurking. 

But how do you know exactly where those germs are lurking? As it turns out, it may be places that you may not even consider.

  • Our workplaces are germ-filled minefields. We might want to carry a canister of wipes wherever we go, wiping down door handles, office equipment, telephones, and breakroom appliances whenever we touch them. Desktops are apparently the filthiest places in our offices, harboring 21,000 bacteria, viruses, and fungi per square inch. That’s 400 times more than a toilet seat. A telephone is even worse with 25,000 germs per square inch.
  • At home, kitchens and bathrooms are the main areas germs thrive. A favorite haunt for E. coli, mold, salmonella and other bacteria: dish sponges — since they stay wet and moist. You can reduce the germs by microwaving the sponge for 30 seconds every five to six days.
  • Although I’m not a fan of scanning QR codes at restaurants to view their menus on my phone, I read once that restaurant menus (and salt and pepper shakers) are germ magnets (since they’re handled by so many but so rarely cleaned). I’m fine with forgoing menus. But if a restaurant does provide you with a menu, be sure you wash or sanitize your hands after you order and never lay your silverware on top of your menu.
  • When I’m at a restaurant, I usually plop my purse on the floor since I’ve heard purse snatchers can easily grab it if you hang it on your chair. But floors are dirty places so I need to remember to wipe the bag with mild soap or disinfectant every few days and let it air dry.
  • I mentioned shopping carts earlier. If there are cart wipes near where you grab the cart at the store, use them. Those cart handles could contain 11 million microorganisms! A swipe of a disinfectant wipe will kill nearly 100 percent of those germs.

Bottom line: Though we’ll never be able to avoid all germs we can be more vigilant about keeping them at bay. Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect!