• Kitchen sponge or toilet?
There is more contamination in the kitchen sink than on the toilet. Remains of raw vegetables and meat can collect on the moist sponges that are used to clean surfaces. Sponges spread bacteria; change or sterilize them (run them through the dishwasher or microwave a wet sponge for a minute).
Put the toilet lid down before flushing to prevent E. coli particles from spraying into the air.
• The first-floor button on an elevator or the ATM keypad?
They have similar amounts of germs since both spots are rarely cleaned. The first-floor elevator button is like the enter button on a keyboard: It’s used frequently and is a prime place to pick up cold germs.
Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer handy.
• The bedspread or remote control in a hotel room?
Studies show the remote is often the first thing touched by unclean hands. Even so, it’s a good idea to remove the comforter, which is probably washed less frequently than hotel linens and blankets.
• A grocery-cart handle or a drinking fountain?
One study found that 55 percent of handles on grocery carts were contaminated with bodily fluids (like urine and saliva) and 21 perfect showed traces of blood. As for public fountains, the ones at schools rank as the germiest.
• Kitchen-sink drain or shower drain?
Because of the mixing of food and water, the kitchen sink has more germs than the shower drain. Microbial growth can occur in stagnant conditions too, so if a rotten-egg smell is wafting from the sink pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar and flush with hot water.
• First or middle stalls in restrooms?
Go for the first stalls because fewer people use them. And don’t forget to wash your hands with soap, since restroom door-handles both in and out are havens for germs.