These 11 public surfaces are covered in germs

All day, you’re using your hands to grab, push and touch things that have been grabbed, pushed and touched by hundreds – maybe thousands - of people before you. And each time you do that, you’re coming into contact with the countless germs their dirty hands left behind. Kelly Blair, an infection preventionist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., says the first step in protecting yourself against those germs is to know where they’re most likely to be. She says you need to be aware of your surroundings and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth when possible. “I think people would be amazed to know how many things they touch each day without thinking about it and how many of these things actually have the potential for being really germy,” Blair says. “If they knew, they might change some of their habits, like licking their fingers before turning a page in a book, putting pens and pencils in their mouths and biting their nails.” The following list of germy public surfaces is based on suggestions from Blair. Although totally limiting your exposure to them isn’t possible, you can keep hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes with you and use them after touching these things, she suggests.
  1. Restaurant menus
  2. TV remote controls in hotel rooms and other public places
  3. All door knobs and handles, especially those in restrooms
  4. Escalator railings
  5. Shopping cart handles
  6. Anything on an airplane, such as seat pockets, tray tables and arm rests
  7. Money
  8. Magazines in offices
  9. Gas pump handles
  10. Elevator buttons
  11. Drinking fountains
With cold and flu season approaching, Blair also offers these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for when to wash your hands:
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage