Health

5 Things You Touch Everyday That Are Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat

April 29th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

No one likes to deal with their toilet, and when you're cleaning your bathroom, it's probably the worst part.

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However, there are other things you probably touch everyday that may not initially have the same ick-factor as a toilet seat but have way more bacteria. Why? The toilet may be gross but it's often scrubbed regularly with disinfectant whereas other areas of the home aren't cleaned as thoroughly, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, told ATTN: "People don't always use disinfectant in places like the kitchen and forget to replace cleaning tools like sponges, which harbor bacteria that you can spread around as you clean," he explained.

Focusing on the bathroom leaves other common items much higher on the dirty list. Here are the five things you touch everyday that are germier than your toilet seat:

1. Your beard.

Beard swab.

Yes, that's right. It's science. A local TV station in Albuquerque, New Mexico took beard swabs from a handful of men and had John Golobic, a microbiologist from Quest Diagnostics, test them. He found levels of bacteria that would shut down a city water system. "Those are the types of things you find in fecal matter," said Golobic. Not everyone's beard is a hotbed for bacteria, but obviously some are pretty gross. The solution is simple, according to Golobic: Wash your beard more often and keep your hands away from your face.

2. Your clean laundry.

Gerba told ABC News in 2010 that germs from your underwear can live in your washing machine. "If you wash a load of just underwear, there will be about 100 million E. coli in the wash water, and they can be transmitted to the next load of laundry," Gerba said. "There's about a tenth of a gram of poop in the average pair of underwear." Usually the hot water is not hot enough to kill the fecal bacteria, so experts recommend running your washing machine with bleach (without any clothes) to wipe out germs.

3. Your cell phone.

Your cell phone is germy AF. The average cell phone has 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and a study by London researchers showed that one in six phones had fecal bacteria on it. Toilets tend to be cleaned frequently but most people don't clean their cell phone. Melissa Maker from CleanYourSpace.com told The Today Show that all you need is an alcohol wipe to clean the 25,000 germs on your phone.

4. Your cutting board.

There's 200 times more fecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on the average toilet, according to Gerba. He told The Today Show that the bacteria usually comes from cutting meat on the board. People tend to rinse their cutting boards but if they've been chopping up meat or fish, they need to be disinfected. Gerba recommended using one cutting board for meat and a separate cutting board for vegetables. To clean your meat cutting board, use a kitchen disinfectant or toss it in the dishwasher.

5. Your handbag.

Gerba also told The Today Show that about one third of handbags have fecal bacteria on them, most likely because women place their handbags on the floor when they go to the bathroom. To slay the bacteria, the bottoms of plastic, leather, or a hard surface bags can be wiped with an alcohol wipe, and cloth bags can be tossed in the washer.

Honorable Mention: Your toothbrush.

Whether your toothbrush is actually grosser than your toilet depends on its location. In 1975, Dr. Gerba and other researchers found that after you go to the bathroom, bacteria and viruses stay in the bowl and when you flush, droplets you can't see fly into the air. The aerosol bacteria from your toilet that could land on surrounding objects, including your toothbrush. Yikes. Dr. Gerba gave ATTN: some strategies for preventing the poop spray from reaching your toothbrush:

"Flushing with the lid down would be a good idea," he said. "Also keep your toothbrush at least three feet from the toilet or you will be brushing your teeth with what was in the toilet."

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