Sneaky spots where germs hide: From public spaces to your own home

There’s a real threat of a “tripledemic” this year with a surge of RSV and COVID-19 [1]. Beyond vaccines, you’ll need to keep an eye out for germs.

To avoid severe illnesses, personal space cleanliness and public caution are crucial. Recognizing the daily encounters with hazardous germs is vital no matter the season.

There are numerous places in your home, from public spaces to living quarters, where germs can cause illness. TheGrio lists 13 surprising places where germs love to hide as we explore germ exposure without fueling fear [2]:

In public

Venturing outside exposes us to various germs. While handwashing remains key, additional vigilance is crucial:

  • Buttons and screens: Use hand sanitizers by screens and buttons, whether ordering or using elevators, as they gather numerous touches.
  • Gas pumps: Highly touched and exposed, gas pumps are best tackled with hand sanitizer post-use.
  • Handrails: Avoid direct contact with public handrails on escalators and staircases; wash hands immediately after use.
  • Shopping carts and baskets: Despite provided sanitizers, practice caution with shared shopping carts and baskets; sanitize hands after shopping.
  • Store counters: Steer clear of leaning on or placing personal items on store counters due to limited cleaning protection.

At home

While our homes should be safe havens, they can also become breeding grounds for germs. Beyond the apparent cleaning of kitchens, bathrooms and countertops, these lesser-known areas harbor more significant threats:

  • Door knobs and light switches: High-touch surfaces like doorknobs and light switches need frequent disinfecting to curb germ spread.
  • Appliance buttons: Buttons on appliances like stoves, ovens and microwaves could house unseen enemies.
  • Remotes: Game controllers, TV remotes and similar items are breeding grounds for germs and should be wiped down daily.
  • Sinks: Surprisingly, kitchen sinks carry more bacteria than toilets. Ensure the basin and the drain’s metal or rubber flange are regularly and thoroughly disinfected.
  • Sponges and dish rags: Replace sponges every one to two weeks and wash dish rags every three to five days to avoid spreading harmful bacteria.

Personal belongings

Items we carry daily, such as keys, earbuds and phones, can have hidden germs due to infrequent cleaning.

  • Mobile phones: Cell phones are proven to be dirtier than toilet seats; clean them with disinfecting wipes daily.
  • Purses and bags: Regularly clean and disinfect bags to prevent germ buildup, depending on the material.
  • Rings: Clean rings thoroughly due to their potential to trap dirt and germs [3].

In a world where germs are all around us, it’s important to keep hand hygiene in mind as you go about your day.


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