Germiest Public Places Revealed

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a complete germaphobe. In the spa, I make sure that waxing sticks are only used once, watch the disinfection of nailcare tools like a hawk, cringe when I don’t see a decorative blanket that I’m sure is not replaced after each service removed from a spa table…I could go on. So I’m always totally intrigued, yet completely grossed out, when I see “germiest” lists. Still, in an effort to spread my mission of cleanliness, I wanted to share this recent blog from the editors of Healing Lifestyles & Spas called "8 of the Most Germ-Infested Places." The thought of each and every one makes me want to dive into a pool of hand sanitizer. Nonetheless, these are all good things to know.

  1. Soap Dispensers
    A little contradictory to their purpose, right? But while these seemingly harmless boxes give out soap to keep you clean, the dispensers themselves rarely are. That could be why a recent study found that 25% of restroom soap dispensers are carrying fecal material. Gross, I know. Remember how your kindergarten teacher told you to wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds? That rule applies to grown-ups too. And add a little alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you have some.
  2. Bathroom Door Handles
    Ever notice someone come out of the bathroom with a paper towel still in his hand? He didn’t forget to throw it away, he was just trying to avoid the multitudes of germs that pile up on the door handle. And he’s not just doing that to make a scene or because he’s a nutty germaphobe, he’s doing it because, he’s right—bathroom door handles are some of the dirtiest things you can touch (think about all of the people who don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, then grab hold of the same exit handle that you use). Grab an extra square of toilet paper or paper towel on your way out to grip the door handle with.
  3. Restaurant Menus
    Do you really think that stressed-out hostess has the time to sanitize and wipe down every menu that comes back to her between seating hundreds of customers a day? Yeah right. Considering that cold and flu viruses can survive for up to 18 hours on a hard surface, don’t let your silverware touch your menu, and wash your hands after ordering and before you reach for the bread with your bare hands.
  4. Condiment Dispensers
    Think of all of the grubby, French fry grease-saturated hands that gripped that very same, uncleaned bottle of ketchup before you wrapped your fingers around it. Wash your hands after pumping that ketchup on your fries and before actually picking up the first fried bite.
  5. Grocery Store Carts
    These actually contain more germs than your regular public bathroom handle. Think of all the hands that pick up that box of cookies, then decide not to buy it and put it back on the shelf for the next pair of hands to fondle. Or the hands that open the bags of chips, cheese, or sliced lunch meat and eat while they push the cart from aisle to aisle. Bring disinfectant wipes to clean the cart handle with. Many groceries are starting to provide these so look or ask for them in the front of the store.
  6. Airplane Bathroom
    It’s not just the confined space that’s got you coughing after the flight. A study found that many bathroom faucets and doorknobs on commercial jets are contaminated with E. coli (often because of feces). Try taking green tea supplements in the days or even weeks leading up to a flight. Taking 2 supplements per day can reduce the number of days of cold symptoms by one third.
  7. Doctor’s Office
    I know you went there to get rid of a sickness, but it may be where you pick one up! Why? Because everyone else is there for the same reason: they’re sick! Bring your own magazines, newspapers and children’s toys if you have them. Even bringing your own tissues and hand sanitizers is a good idea.
  8. Lemon Wedges
    The buckets that hold the lemon slices in a restaurant are relatively small. So there isn’t some 2 hour process in the morning where all the lemons for the day are carefully washed and sliced. Nope—while the restaurant is busy, whoever has time just grabs a lemon and slices it up to refill the beverage station, and they don’t usually have time to go wash their hands in between. Order your drink without the lemon.

When it comes to germs, how are you tackling the issue in your spa? Share your thoughts here. Now I'm off to wash my hands. Thoroughly.