By April Daley
Using your local ATM is like sticking your hand in a public toilet, a recent British study finds.
Researchers from BioCote, an antibacterial product coating company, swabbed keypads on ATMs and the seats of nearby public restrooms. They found both contained bacteria that caused diarrhea and other illnesses—and the ATMs carried more bacteria than the toilets. Nasty.
Here are six other spots that are dirtier than you’d expect.
The Self Checkout at Your Supermarket
100 percent of the stands in supermarkets tested by germ expert, Chuck Gerbra, Ph.D. of the University of Arizona, had bacteria on them. More than 70 percent had coliform, commonly found in feces and aquatic environments.
iPod, iPad, and tablet touch screens are covered with more contaminants than anything else tested, Dr. Gerba found. A simple solution: Spray a damp lint-free cloth with sanitizing spray made specifically for electronics—regular disinfectant products can damage your screen. Use a dry cloth to buff the screen until all fingerprints and smudge are gone.
Dr. Gebra tested 25 cell phones and found staph bacteria, which can cause everything from skin infections to meningitis, growing on almost half. Germs multiply in warm places, and between the warmth from your hands and the heat phones create on their own, it’s no wonder they’re a bacteria playground.
The Remote Control
The germiest thing in the average hotel room is the remote control because no ever thinks to clean it, according to Gebra. TV remotes are easy targets because people get lazy washing their hands after going to the bathroom. You can always use the hotel sheet as a “glove” when you push the buttons.
A Shopping Cart
Shopping cart handles are loaded with more saliva, bacteria, and even fecal matter than public telephones, public bathroom, or escalators. Credit the large number of children who sit in the front cart and the raw meat and produce you handle. Those disinfectant wipes at the door? Use them.
Reusable Shopping Bags
In interviews, Dr. Gerba found that only 3 percent of people have ever washed their reusable shopping bags but about 12 percent of the bags had E. coli.