Where do germs thrive?

by Anthony Prichard on May 05, 2020

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, there are germs. Billions and billions of them.

Germs and bacteria are tiny organisms that live all around us, in the air, in the soil and water, and on food, plants, and animals (including on and in our bodies).  Except - you can’t see them! Germs are microscopic, and they’re everywhere, and some are good and some are bad.  So where do germs thrive?  Where do you think they’re hanging out most? And what do you do to keep them at bay?

They’re on things we touch everyday

Guess what folks … a lot of germs are where they are because we put them there! Yep, our hands are a part of the Germ Transportation System!  And these days we’re a pretty reliable part when we don’t pay attention and forget about the new pandemic protocols! Our hands are where germs travel from surfaces to people to other surfaces and to our faces. We all know that’s why soap and water handwashing is so important these days!  So ...  the things we touch most are often the germiest things. Everyone knows the cellphone is high on the list of germiest things! But what else? You're aware that germs like to hide out in public bathrooms, on door handles and gas pump handles. Where do you think they’re hiding most in your car? In your home? In your office? In your kids’ room?  “Germs thrive on the things we touch frequently, like cell phones and remote controls - things that are rarely cleaned,” says Kelly Reynolds, PhD, a professor of microbiology and the director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson. (4) “Being aware of, cleaning regularly, and avoiding germ hot spots is one strategy to avoid infections that can lead to colds, the flu, or other problems. The other important part is not letting the germs you are exposed to enter your body,” Dr. Reynolds adds. “Wash frequently and try not to touch your nose, mouth, and eyes.” Via everydayhealth.

What are the germiest places in your home?

Where do you think germs thrive in your home?  Many might suspect it’s the toilet that’s the worst - but that’s not always the case. Toilets may be one of the cleaner places in our homes, because we clean them regularly. The kitchen, the toothbrush holder, and the dog bowl are actually some of the real hot spots. 

Kitchen sink

In the kitchen, the sink is a major bacteria hangout. We pick up bacteria on our hands from foods and liquids and any number of things that wind up in our sinks and faucets. The worst item in the kitchen is no surprise: your dish sponge! NSF International, an independent public health and safety organization, found coliform bacteria — a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination — on more than 75% of dish sponges and rags. So yeah, the sponge needs attention -- how often do you clean your sponge? How to clean a sponge:
  • Get the sponge wet
  • Heat it in the microwave for two minutes once a day (it comes out very hot, so be careful)
Other sponge germ-busting tips:
  • Replace your sponge often. NSF advises getting a new sponge every two weeks or even more often. 
  • Rinse sponges well and keep them out of the sink so they can dry out between uses, as drying kills a lot of germs.
  • Use dishcloths, towels, and rags rather than sponges. Why? Because they can be sanitized with your washing machine’s sanitizing cycle or with bleach. 

Toothbrush holder

So like we said, in the bathroom, the toilet is not always where germs thrive – that distinction goes to your toothbrush holder! NSF found that toothbrush holders are the third most germy household items after the kitchen sponge and sink. Have you ever looked down into your toothbrush holder? Yuck!!! An alarming 64% of toothbrush holders contained mold and yeast, 27% contained coliform and 14% contained staph. To protect your toothbrush holder:
  • Close the toilet when you flush to prevent germs’ air travel all over the bathroom.
  • Keep your toothbrush holder as far away from the toilet as possible. 
  • On a weekly basis, put the holder in the dishwasher’s sanitizing cycle (assuming it’s dishwasher safe)
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 months.  

Dog Bowl, Yes Fido’s Bowl is a veritable germfest

The same NSF study found the dog bowl to be the third germiest thing in the house. It’s not surprising that this would be true. But knowing the pet bowl is the third germiest item in the house is why you should not put your pet’s bowl on the kitchen counter next to tonight’s dinner!

The most acclaimed public germ hotspots

Non-smooth, warm and moist areas tend to create ideal conditions for thriving bacteria to grow and hide. Where do you think these are? In a recent study, NSF swabbed various surfaces in local schools and grocery stores to explore where germs hide publicly. They found the highest level of bacteria in a playground sandbox. Not surprisingly, objects like drinking fountains and cafeteria trays had more microorganisms than commonly cleaned areas, such as bathrooms and gym mats.

What about grocery stores?

At the grocery store, dozens of people typically use any given shopping cart each day, which increases the likelihood of coming in contact with dangerous microbes. Germs like E. coli and coliform bacteria have been found to linger on the handles, seats, and the bottoms of shopping carts, according to research published in September 2014 in the European Scientific Journal.

And Banks?

At the bank, considering that 95 percent of people wash their hands improperly, according to Michigan State University researchers, ATM users tend to deposit something else besides their paychecks. One study found that each key on an ATM harbors an average of 1,200 germs, including E.coli and cold and flu viruses, University of Arizona researchers report. We’ve all heard the recommendation to stash hand sanitizer in your car and scrub off as soon as you leave the bank. That’s of course if you don’t mind the chemicals in those products! To keep germs from thriving, add StayWell™ Copper to the mix …. Even better, in our opinion, than carrying that hand sanitizer is to keep your hands clean with frequent and effective handwashing techniques, and carry your StayWell™ Copper with you at all times for that extra layer of germ killing protection that antimicrobial copper naturally gives.  To get your germ killing StayWell™ Copper protection, be sure to check out our Mother’s Day Special where you can get 3 Hope Necklaces for the price of 2 during the entire month of May.