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10 Facts About Germs You Should Know

People miss 50 million days of work every year because of colds. See the period at the end of that sentence? One thousand germs could fit on it. Germs are tiny, troublesome, and everywhere.

This blog post will explain some of the most germ-infested items and places to avoid. Then I’ll tell you some best practices for keeping yourself healthy and making your space clean. And for janitorial services that rid your workplace of bacteria without using toxic chemicals, get in touch with us here at Cascade Building Services!

1. Never touch escalator handrails

In movie theaters, shopping malls, and other places, people cough or sneeze on their hand and then touch the escalator. You know what that means. “We have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails,” Dr. Gerba told Health.

Other germy public places include grocery carts, lemon slices, ketchup bottles, and restaurant menus. In restaurants, wash your hands after the server takes your menu back, and never let it touch your silverware, advises Prevention.

2. Your kitchen sink is dirtier than your toilet

“Get your mind out of the toilet,” the saying goes, but “Get your brain out of the kitchen sink” would be more accurate. According to CBS, “Your kitchen sink contains 100,000 times more germs than your toilet.”

kitchen sink washing sponge germs

Your toilet isn’t even one of the 10 germiest places in your home! In fact, the only extremely germy location in the bathroom is the toothbrush holder, due to its proximity to the toilet (and that people are more vigilant about toilet cleaning). The 10 dirtiest places in your home are as follows:

  1. Sponges and dish rags
  2. Kitchen sinks
  3. Toothbrush holders
  4. Pet bowls
  5. Coffee makers
  6. Faucet handles
  7. Pet toys
  8. Kitchen counters
  9. Stove knobs
  10. Cutting boards


3. Shaking off washable rugs, bed linens, and towels actually spreads germs

When you’re about to change the sheets or towels, sometimes people shake them out, knowing they’ll vacuum later. Except those germs, dirt, hairs, and flakes of skin go everywhere. Throw them right in the wash instead, or shake them off outside. This is especially true for bath mats, which live on the notoriously filthy bathroom floor. (Bonus tip: Don’t wash your bath mat, towels, or sheets with the rest of your clothes.)

4. You’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane

When hundreds of people sit close together in a confined space for hours on end, you end up sharing more than pleasant chit-chat. Almost everywhere in an airplane bathroom is teeming with bacteria. Even when you’re seated, you’re vulnerable to other passengers’ germs. Germs from a sneeze can travel 13 feet! Watch out if someone in front of you sneezes — here’s where those particles go on a plane:

germs sneeze airplane

Source: YouTube

Drink green tea, get enough sleep, and take other steps to boost your immune system before and after flying to stay healthy.

5. 1 in 6 men don’t wash their hands after using the restroom

More women wash their hands after using the bathroom compared to men (about 93% compared to roughly 85%). But the scariest part is that even though people wash their hands, 95% of people don’t do it correctly. You should lather up with soap and scrub for 15 to 20 seconds, which is as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But most people only wash their hands for 6 seconds. If you need motivation to scrub your hands for longer than a few seconds, keep in mind that 1 in 4 bathroom soap dispensers has fecal bacteria on it. Yuck.

6. Drinking fountains are the germiest places in schools

School drinking fountains have 800 times as many germs as school toilet seats! After drinking fountains, here are the dirtiest places in schools, in order: lunch trays, faucets, cafeteria plates, and computer keyboards. All of which are germier than school toilet seats. Keep a reusable water bottle with you instead.

7. 1 in 5 office coffee mugs are tainted with fecal bacteria

Your desk at work is dirtier than the office toilet — every square inch has about 21,000 germs. Women’s Health says you should clean your workspace with a disinfecting wipe every day. Shared items like office coffee mugs and PowerPoint remotes are also huge germ magnets. Dr. Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist, told Women’s Health, “About 20 percent of the office cups contain coliform bacteria, which is related to fecal contamination.” Use a designated mug every day and wash it frequently with soap and hot water.

work station computer keyboard

8. Antibacterial soap isn’t any better than normal soap

You may feel safer and cleaner, but antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective at killing bacteria than plain ol’ regular soap. In fact, antibacterial soap can make your family resistant to antibiotics and superbugs. It can even contain triclosan, which can harm your endocrine system. Stick to the normal stuff.

9. Cell phones are 18 times dirtier than toilet handles

We’re constantly touching our phones — in fact, 75% of Americans use their phone in the bathroom! And yet no one thinks of washing their hands after using their phone (or cleaning the phone itself). So it’s not surprising that one in six cell phones has E. coli bacteria on it. To keep that iPhone from becoming an iGross, turn your phone off once a week and clean it with an antibacterial wipe.

iphone hand germs

10. The dirtiest key on an ATM pad is the Enter button

Researchers have found E. coli and flu viruses on ATM keypads, especially the “Enter” button, since it’s unavoidable. To keep germs away, use your knuckle instead, since it’s rarer to touch your face with your knuckles than the tip of your finger.

How to Kill Germs

Thoroughly grossed out? There’s hope. Wash your hands constantly, just not with antibacterial soap. UC Berkeley says this is when you should wash your hands:

  • Before a meal
  • Before and after you touch food (especially raw meat)
  • Before putting in contacts
  • After using the restroom
  • After you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose


And every week, use a bleach-free disinfecting wipe that contains alcohol to clean these commonly overlooked items: stove knobs, the kitchen sink, your toothbrush holder, computer keyboards, remotes, phones, and light switches. (With electronics, be especially careful not to get them wet with excess moisture.)

Or throw some of these things right in the dishwasher, like your kitchen sink strainer, toothbrush holder, refrigerator shelves, kitchen brushes, the soap dish, plastic kids’ toys, and some pet toys. Microwave sponges once a day for 2 minutes to kill germs.

But most of all, try not to freak out too much. Once you’ve done your best to be sanitary, accept that some contact with germs is inevitable.

For first-class janitorial services to keep your office clean and healthy, contact us at Cascade Building Services.


First Photo Source: Andy Bullock

darrenAbout the author Darren

Darren is the owner of Cascade Building Services. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree at Lewis and Clark University. He used to work in sales for General Mills. In his spare time, you can find him in the great outdoors camping and boating.

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