The dreaded cold and flu season is here, and you know what that means? Germs! The more you’re able to protect yourself from cold and flu germs, the fewer sick days you’ll need to take and the lower your healthcare costs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately 17 million days of work are lost each year due to the flu alone, and, according to the Global Hygiene Council, 59 million days of school are lost to cold and flu. Understanding where cold and flu germs are hiding is crucial to stay healthy. Make sure you sanitize these hidden places where cold or flu germs may be found.
1. Kitchen Tools
Did you know that kitchen sinks hold more germs than bathrooms sinks? As one of the busiest places in the home, it comes as no surprise that our kitchen is one of the most common areas where germs are found. According to a study by NSF International, the germiest spots in the home include dish rags and sponges, kitchen sinks, countertops and cutting boards. Whether it is the kitchen sink, stove, microwave or fridge, they all contain germs that should be removed with proper sanitization.
2. Exercise Equipment
Whether at home or at the gym, you’re likely to encounter cold and flu germs on every single piece of exercise equipment. Avoid these germs by properly sanitizing equipment before and after you are done using it.
3. Car Interior
Each day — without thinking twice — you get in and out of your car to go about your daily routine. Whether that’s picking up your kids from school or going to and from work, the array of germs you and your loved ones are spreading on your car’s door handles and inside interior is cringe-worthy. In fact, a study by Queen Mary University of London found the steering wheel of a car can harbor up to nine times the number of germs found on a public toilet seat. What’s more, the trunk of a car can house more than 1,000 bacteria per square inch and a half. Don’t wait — wipe down your car today!
4. ATM Keypads
ATM keypads are another overlooked place where germs can be found. In fact, 41% of ATM buttons contain enough germs to spread illness, according to a study by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Stop the germs in their tracks by carrying hand sanitizer with you to use before and after using an ATM.
5. TV Remote
TV remotes are germ hotspots. In fact, one study by University of Houston found remotes were among the most heavily contaminated items in hotel rooms. Stop cold and flu germs in their tracks by wiping down your remote controls regularly.
How often do you reach for your favorite condiments during meals? How about the communal mustard and ketchup in the fridge at work? Avoid the spread of cold and flu germs by wiping down your favorite bottles and jars, and washing your hands before touching your food.
7. School Supplies
Understandably, schools are a breeding ground for a large number of the cold and flu germs your child could be bringing home. School supplies such as pencils, pens, notebooks, backpacks and more collect germs that could lead to coughing, sneezing and even the flu. Help prevent germs from spreading by cleaning your child’s things regularly.
8. Cell Phones
It’s likely you spend a lot of time touching your phone — and covering it with cold and flu germs. The average cellphone holds approximately 10 times more bacteria than your toilet seat, according to a study by the University of Arizona. Wipe yours down, stat!
9. Coffee Station and Watercooler
The coffee and water station in your home or office are popular spots. With this popularity comes the risk of attracting germs. Make sure to wash your hands consistently throughout the day and clean items like coffeepots, communal coffee supplies and water coolers or fountains on a regular basis.
10. Handheld Electronics
While handheld electronics, like video game controllers and tablets, offer up convenience and entertainment value, these items are also saturated in germs.
11. Toothbrush Holder
Did you know your toothbrush holder could be the third germiest item in your home? Think about it: You use it on a daily basis but how often do you wipe it down? Prevent the spreading of germs by cleaning your toothbrush holder on a regular basis.
One study found the average office keyboard houses approximately 20,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Gross! For five days out of each week, keyboards, phones and desks become the most consistently touched and germ-friendly items. Avoid the spread of cold and flu germs by sanitizing often.
13. Light Switches
One of the most easily forgotten items in your home and workplace that contains and spreads the most germs is the light switch. The University of Houston study found main light switches had the highest number of bacteria in hotel rooms. Wipe them down for everyone's health.
14. Bed Sheets and Towels
Sorry to break it to you, but your linens are another place where germs are found. This cold and flu season make an effort to wash your towels and sheets at least once a week in hot water.
15. Hairbrush and Combs
Many of us go about our morning and evening routines (even when we’re sick) and don’t think twice about the germs that we could be touching — or spreading. Germs, dust, old hair and more accumulate on your hairbrush and can lead to scalp infections or dandruff. Don’t let this happen to you; clean your comb or brush today!