DECLARE WAR ON GERMS! – Away from Home

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Last week we discussed the germ friendly places in your home and how to avoid excessive exposure to them, but there is a big world out there that stretches beyond the walls of your home and you’re going to need to be aware of germ hotspots.

The following is a list of some common public places that you may travel to on a daily basis. These places are filled with germs, but with a little guidance from us, you can learn how to guard yourself against exposure to them.


There are billions and billions of them. Nope, we’re not talking about the customers McDonalds has served, we’re talking about the germs on the door handles of McDonalds and any other restaurant in the country. Germs can be found in hordes living on many surfaces.

Here is a list of the most common places in a restaurant to find germs in a restaurant:

Menus – A recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. That means that hundreds of people could be handling the menus on a daily basis and passing their germs on to you. What can you do? After you order your food (and the waiter has taken back the menus), go to the restroom and wash your hands. Carry hand sanitizer with you if you want to take care of your cleanliness at the table.

Lemons in water, tea and other drinks – According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. What can you do? Tell your waiter to hold the lemons.

Condiment dispensers – Ketchup and mustard bottles are used by almost everyone during a typical meal at a restaurant. So are salt and pepper shakers. You may be diligent about keeping your hands clean, but not everyone is. Make sure to use sanitary wipes on your hands after handling these bacteria covered condiments.

Restroom door handles—It’s okay to use a piece of paper towel to open the door of a restroom after you’ve washed your hands. People may think you are a germ-a-phob, but they’ll be the ones getting sick, not you.

Make sure to check out our article on how chemical exposure in Receipts May Be Hazardous To Your Health.

Other Places

It’s almost impossible these days to entirely avoid the flu altogether. However, we voluntarily put ourselves in a bacteria war zone quite often. With some simple prevention tips, we can keep ourselves a lot healthier and happier. Here are some common places that germs can spread and some solutions on how to protect yourself against them.


The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Most grocery stores now offer sanitary wipes at the front of the store to wipe down carts. Take advantage of this. If they don’t offer this, make sure to bring some along with you from home.
Airplane Bathrooms

When tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, surfaces from faucets to doorknobs were found to be contaminated with E. coli. It’s not surprising, then, that you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research. Make sure to always wash your hands and use paper towels to open bathroom doors.

Doctor’s Office

This is where sick people go to get healthy so of course it’s crawling with germs. Doctors and nurses are constantly sanitizing their hands, so why shouldn’t you? Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor. So try not to sit close to anyone else and don’t share magazines or newspapers in the waiting room.

Your Office

According to the National Research Center for Women and Families, studies have found the average desktop has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet bowl. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends regularly wiping down your desk with a disinfectant.

Is it a Cold or a Flu? Click here to discover the difference.

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