Bathroom faucets, remote controls, and telephones are likely culprits for harboring the germs that cause colds.
Scientists at the University of Virginia have tested many common surfaces to see if germs could live on them and then be transferred to the next person. The big news? Yes, absolutely.
Germs can survive in many common spots in public places as well as in the home. An earlier study had shown that germs could survive up to 2 days after a guest checks out of a hotel room.
Here are some of the sobering numbers describing common germ hotbeds to think about as we head into cold and flu season. Spots found to harbor the germ:
6 out of 10 doorknobs
8 of 14 refrigerator handles
3 of 13 light switches
6 of 10 remote controls
8 of 10 bathroom faucets
4 of 7 telephones
20% of the toys in the “sick-child” waiting room at the pediatrician’s office
17% of the toys in the “well-child” waiting room
30% of the toys in the sack to choose from after getting a shot
What can you do to avoid picking up these germs?
Besides remembering to wipe down and disinfect doorknobs, light switches, and phones along with the regular cleaning routine in your home, do your best not to touch these things in public places. That’s what I do. In public areas I turn faucets off with the towel I’m using to dry my hands, flip lightswitches with my elbows, and pull my sleeve down over my palm (or grab the bottom of my shirt) when forced to grasp doorhandles. It’s awkward, but worth it to keep my hands clean and germ-free.
I try not to touch escalator handrails, railings, and elevator buttons, preferring to use my elbow when possible. If I must touch something like the pole in a subway car, I try to wash my hands the first chance I get and remember not to touch anywhere near my face or food until then.
As I’ve said before, one of the best ways to be healthy is to not get sick in the first place!