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Where the Germs Are — What You Can Do

December 22, 2017
Plain English Version

Germs are everywhere. They cause colds, flus, and diarrhea. Germs also cause norovirus (vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps), staph, MRSA (bacteria that attack organisms)— and more.

What to do.

Your clothes:

Your clothes can harbor viruses such as salmonella and hepatitis.  How can those germs and others survive laundry efforts? It is because most Americans do not wash their clothes in hot water or use bleach anymore.

The solution: Use bleach or the hot water cycle if you can. If not, your dryer can kill germs. Run the dryer for more than 30 minutes.

Your kitchen:

Kitchens have more germs than our bathrooms. It is because germs on raw meat and produce are added to our germs. The worst kitchen spots are the sink, sponges and countertops.

The solution: Clean your kitchen sink and counters with disinfectant wipes. Especially do so after handling raw meat or produce. Use paper towels (instead of a sponge) to wipe your counters. Run your sponges through the dishwasher or microwave for one to two minutes to kill germs.

Your commute:

If you commute by bus or subway, you are coming into contact with many more people and their germs. You are more likely to get sick than if you walk or drive.

The solution: Use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands after being on public transit. The biggest mistake people make is not washing their hands long enough or well enough.

Your Cell Phone:

Our cell phones contain bacteria. They can spread germs.

The solution: Wipe your cell phone often with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe. (Alcohol is not good for the screen.).


Toilet seats are pretty clean in public restrooms. That is because people wipe them or use paper liners. The exit door handle, another source of concern, is also pretty clean. That is because most people have just washed their hands.

If you wash your hands and then grab your purse, you are defeating the purpose. About a third of women’s purses have fecal bacteria. This comes from being on public restroom floors.

The solution: Hang your purse on the bathroom hook rather than placing it on the floor.

Stay clean, stay healthy.

Source: The Washington Post December 14, 2017

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