Where the germs are hiding...
Where the germs are hiding...

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Germs are an unavoidable reality of every day life, and while it’s impossible to avoid them completely, you may be surprised to know that the germiest items are not what you’d expect.

For example, did you know that a shopping cart carries 115 times more bacteria than a toilet seat? Or that 30 percent of handbags are crawling with E. Coli?

Dr Charles Gerba, Professor in the Department of Soil, Water an Environmental Science at the University of Arizona told news.com.au that while we are “always gambling with germs,” the goal is to “make the odds in your favour.”

For a start, this means reducing exposure to germs by wiping down your mobile and work phone with an antibacterial wipe, be meticulous about washing hands regularly, and keep your hands away from your face.

RELATED: Avoiding a Cold Through Good Hygiene

And don’t forget the items you always use, but rarely clean – these are often the grimiest, germ-infested items. Think your TV remote, handbag, mobile phone, wallet, keyboard, taps, and kitchen and bathroom door handles as well as light switches.

As for how often, that depends on whether you have kids or pets or if someone in your family or your office is sick, according to Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical lab science at Saint Louis University.

And if you need any more convincing, here are some stats on bacteria counts per square inch that will have you reaching for the anti-bacterial sanitiser quicker than you can say contamination…

Kitchen tap Handle: 228 854

Think your kitchen sink is sparkly clean? Think again. Thanks to all the meat and produce remnants, there’s more fecal bacteria in the sink than in the toilet after we flush according to Dr Gerba.

Dish Sponge: 775 460 560

Next time you clean your bench or your sink, consider that you may actually be spreading germs, if your dish sponge is more than a few days old. This is easily the dirtiest, germiest item in the household. If you don’t fancy constantly buying new sponges and throwing them away, another alternative is to microwave them for 30 seconds, recommends Dr Gerba.

Shopping Trolley: 138,000

Shopping carts are paradise for germs – exposed to infants, dirty hands, food and birds in the parking lot. Coliform bacteria were detected in 72 per cent of 85 shopping carts sampled.
Wipe down the handle and basket with sanitising wipes, and wash your hands as soon as you get home – BEFORE you unpack the groceries!

Keyboard/Mouse: 79,000

How long have you had your keyboard? When was the last time you cleaned it? Are you the only one who’s used it? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then it’s time to get out the sanitiser, pronto. Then, keep it up once a week – more if there are sick people in your office.

Bathroom Tap And Handle: 50,068

Surprisingly, bathrooms had less bacteria overall than kitchens but still be sure to wipe down with sanitising wipes at least weekly.

Remote Control: 17,000

Many hands, snacking and being left in dirty places (such as behind the couch) makes the remote control a haven for germs. Dr Gerba recommends wiping with sanitiser at least a couple of times per week.

Mobile Phone: 11,020

Do you share your phone or do you own a smart phone with a screen you’re constantly touching? Then guess what – your phone is a germ farm. Clean with a sanitising wipe daily.

RELATED: Ten surprising health facts

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