If there’s one thing we have learned through this pandemic, it is how to properly wash our hands! There has never been so much information out there about the proper way to wash your hands to ensure they are fully clean. We are also much more aware of other surfaces where germs can be lurking. We thought it was a good opportunity to review the dirtiest surfaces and how you can keep them clean and yourself safe.
There are items that we touch every day and don’t give them a second thought. However, it’s time to consider how often something is cleaned and give it the attention it deserves.
These days it seems most people don’t go anywhere without their cell phone. We may not like to admit it, but this sometimes includes taking it in the bathroom. Considering this, your cell phone could be 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat and may even have E coli on it! Using a disinfecting wipe like these, with at least 75% alcohol, is a good way to keep your phone clean. Remove the case and simply give it and the phone a gentle wipe. When everything is thoroughly dry, reassemble and go about your business. You may consider changing habits like using a bluetooth earpiece to keep germs away from your face or text a photo to your friends instead of passing your phone around a group.
Another common item we all touch but seldom think to clean is the remote control. Consider how much the TV is used each day by a variety of hands. Sometimes the remote even gets stuck down the cushions or under the couch with who knows what else. There are many ways it can collect a variety of bacteria, so a frequent wipe down with an antibacterial wipe is always good practice.
We all know that our mouth can harbour many microbes, bacteria and virus droplets. So, it stands to reason that the very thing we use to clean our mouths - our toothbrush - also needs to be cleaned! Many of the germs we remove from our teeth and tongue stick to the bristles and can drip onto the toothbrush holder and counter. Some electric toothbrushes come with a UV sanitizer, but if you don’t have the fancy model, simply cleaning off the gunk and throwing your toothbrush in the dishwasher will work. Be sure to wipe down the holder and the counter as well.
Just like our mouths foster germs and bacteria, so does the mouth of the family’s dog. Any toy Rover enjoys chewing on or fetching for you is covered in his slobber. And, when the dog toy is left on the floor, it’s a sticky, wet spot for other germs to flourish. Fabric toys can be tossed into the laundry, whereas rubber toys can be scrubbed and then sanitized in the dishwasher.
In The Kitchen
The kitchen is usually the gathering spot of the family - a place where food is prepared and shared. Because it is such a busy place for families, it also has some of the dirtiest surfaces of the home! Here are a few spots to keep on your radar:
The sink seems like it would be one of the cleanest places in the kitchen. However, considering the many functions it has and how many people are using it, it can become a magnet for bacteria. Think about the things you pour or rinse down the drain, the leftover food that is washed off dishes and the faucet that everyone touches to wash their hands.
Depending on the type of sink you have, you’ll want to choose your cleaner accordingly. Porcelain enamel, stainless steel or composite granite require different products but, start with a good scrub followed by sanitizing using bleach or this Clorox bleach cream cleanser. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down the faucet and clean out the drain with baking soda.
Can you guess what the dirtiest item in your house is? The dish cloth/sponge. When you consider all the things you’re cleaning with it, it’s no wonder it holds the dubious title! All those bits of food and dirt get ground in and hang on to the moist fibers. Change it out often and toss it in with your next load of laundry.
Similarly, the kitchen towel is a strong contender for the “dirtiest item” title. The towel, which is often found hanging right beside the sink is used to wipe down, clean up, and dry hands. Fortunately, the more often you wash your hands, the less dirt and grime will be transferred! As with the dish cloth, switch out the kitchen towel often.
One of the first appliances you’ll typically use in the morning is your coffee maker. Smelling that wonderful aroma as your brain starts to come to life is a great way to start the day. However, the damp, dark crevices can be a prime spot for bacteria to grow. Cleaning the machine is a simple task as long as you remember to do it. Fill the coffee maker with four cups of vinegar and let it stand for 30 minutes. Run it through the machine, followed by three cycles of water. Be sure to also clean the coffee pot as well as the most-touched area - the handle.
The microwave also gets a good workout in most family kitchens. From a quick coffee reheat to an after-school snack, lots of hands are using the handle and pushing the buttons. Discarded food bits and spills can make it easy to remember to clean the inside of the microwave, but you mustn't overlook the exterior. A quick swab with a disinfectant wipe will help keep the germs to a minimum.
Shopping is something we all took for granted prior to the pandemic. However, we quickly realized the many opportunities for virus transmission in simple economic transactions. This is nothing to panic about, but being aware means being proactive. Here are some areas to watch out for when you’re headed to the store.
If your purse could sing, perhaps it would be crooning “I’ve been everywhere, man….” When you think about the many places your purse is in a day, it’s astonishing: store counter, bathroom stall, public transit seat, the floor, your desk - the list goes on. And, it’s not typically something you think about cleaning. Depending on the material it’s made from, choose the best method of cleaning and give it a go. But, knowing what you know now means you will choose better spots for it to rest in the future!
Inside your purse, your money and credit/debit cards can also be problematic. Each time money changes hands, it has new opportunities for different germs to cling to it. Although our Canadian polymer bills are cleaner than our US neighbours’ greenback, they are still a prime spot to carry viruses and bacteria. Although it is possible to wash our cash, it’s not recommended. A better suggestion is to clean your hands after handling money. Although your debit and credit card are not changing hands like cash, they can still collect germs from being inserted into or tapping machines. When you clean your purse, wipe down your plastic cards with a disinfectant wipe.
When getting cash from the bank machine, consider how many people are touching the same buttons as you. Researchers have found a wide variety of microbes left behind by filthy fingers. While you can’t be responsible for wiping down the ATM, you can keep some hand sanitizer in your purse or the glove box and use it after your transaction.
The shopping cart holds many things - your groceries, your child, your germs! Consider the many items that are passing through the cart, some of them dripping with contamination. The same cart is used to carry boxes and cans as well as produce and moist packages of fresh meat. Cart handles often carry a multitude of bacteria, so if the store offers disinfectant wipes by the cart corral, it’s a great idea to grab one and wipe down the handle. Or, you could keep a small packet like this one in your purse.
As we head out of our homes and into the office, there is a whole new list of areas to watch out for. Since the office is typically used by teams of people, there are plenty of opportunities for things to get dirty. Here’s our list of areas to be cautious of.
As you arrive at the office, you reach for the door handle to head inside. Just like everyone else before you. Since everyone is grabbing the same handle, there will be a variety of germs that cling to the handle. Likewise, the elevator buttons are also a high-touch point for many people. You may choose to push the button with a key or your elbow. Or perhaps you get into the habit of once you get settled at the office, take a trip to the washroom and wash your hands with warm, soapy water.
Once you settle into your desk, there are a few other areas to watch out for. First off, your desk itself. If you can imagine, your desktop can have more germs than a toilet seat! The reason is the many things you (and others) touch on your desk, in addition to the people leaning on it as they talk to you or set their purse, briefcase or computer down to show you something.
On your desk, you’ll likely see your computer keyboard and mouse. Over the course of the day you may be eating or drinking at your desk in addition to any other germs you’ve encountered. At the end of the day when you turn your computer off, give the keyboard a shake to get rid of any crumbs. Use a sanitizing wipe and work it around each key and your mouse. A can like this one could easily be stashed in your desk drawer for quick clean ups like this.
Also on your desk, you probably have a phone. Not only are you touching the phone, but speaking into it as well. As you speak, microscopic droplets escape your mouth and can hang around on your handset. As you think of it, reach into your desk and grab a wipe to give it a quick clean.
Many of the items around the office have the same issue. When multiple people touch them, they become problematic. Think of copy machines, printers, postage machines, supply cupboards, etc. Even vending machines in the staff lounge. With high-touch areas like these, your company’s cleaning team will have a strategy in place. But if you are concerned, you can check with your supervisor regarding the cleaning regime at your office. Janitorial staff should be using a disinfectant such as Germosolve. The formula is perfect for dealing with high-touch areas in the office and can disinfect in as little as five seconds.
The very nature of the washroom creates a prime environment for bacteria, dirt, grime and germs. Proceed with caution. Here are a few areas to pay particular attention to.
Studies show the first stall in the washroom is the least frequently used. An interesting statistic you can use to your advantage! Be sure to hang your purse, jacket, keys, etc. on the hook to keep them as clean as possible.
Many public washrooms are now using automatic soap dispensers like this one. Automatic taps also make for a clean, streamlined process. However, if you need to use a tap handle, grab a paper towel to turn it off. Remember all of the tips you’ve heard about how long to lather up (hum Happy Birthday twice!) and use a paper towel to dry them thoroughly. Bacteria prefer damp hands and jet air dryers spread germs around.
This list covers some of the most common dirty surfaces and provides you with some solutions for cleaning them or being proactive in avoiding them. MCL Express has a wide range of products to support clean habits for both your home and your business. Contact us today for more information or to set up an online account.