Sometimes the dirtier isn’t always better. Every item you touch contains a significant amount of germs and bacteria that goes unnoticed. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to start keeping your hands to yourself and have some control in regards to what you touch. The next time you go to shake someone’s hand, touch a doorknob, or touch a household item, think about where your hands have been lately. Should you really be touching that without sanitizing beforehand?

According to the ten dirtiest things we touch on a daily basis are: money, light switches, keyboards, cell phones, remote controls, toilet seats, shopping carts, bathtubs, kitchen sinks, and kitchen sponges. All of these items contribute to the amount of germs that we pick up on a daily basis. So just how dirty are you? According to Tiffany Mathews, coordinator of health and wellness, “In reality we are exposed to a lot of germs, so even if there are people who are germaphobes they still need to get some germs to build up their immune system.”

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Jarett Miller, a junior studying biology, explained there are germs and bacteria everywhere. “Because [bacteria] is so abundant, most of our reactions to them are neither negative or positive.” However, even though our body does require germs in order to maintain a stronger and healthier immune system, there are easy steps that we can take in order to avoid the bad germs. Let’s start with coughing or sneezing. Don’t project your germs everywhere; no one wants to breathe in your germs. Take the time to sneeze or cough into your elbow, this will limit the exposure the rest of the public surrounding you has to your germs. And be sure to sanitize after each cough or sneeze.

Mathews continued and said, “The CDC, when H1N1 was really coming to a peak, they were the ones who started the cough into the elbow,” Mathews said. However, if you don’t have the time to sanitize after you contract germs, make sure to avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth, as this is the easiest way to avoid spreading germs. The human microbiome is the totality of cells that live on your skin and in your skin layers, according to Miller. Miller said, “They play a big role in maintaining your health.”

This is why it is so important to always wash and sanitize your hands. But there are ways to limit the amount of germs and bacteria that you expose yourself to. Take the time to wash your hands before every meal and the time to clean items you touch on a daily basis. Doing these few simple steps will allow you to avoid contracting those germs and prevent you from becoming sick.

“There is talk out there about Americans being so over the top about sanitizing everything, that everything needs to be so clean that maybe that is contributing to it being common for us to get sick more often,” Mathews said. Many soaps and hand sanitizers advertise that they kill “99.99 percent of your germs” upon use. “I think there are people who are so germaphobic that they end up sterilizing everything and sanitizing everything,” Mathews said.

Miller agreed and added that many of the claims on these bottles are unrealistic. “That would be a lot of gems to kill,” he explained, “If it’s killing that many germs, it would also be killing the good germs.”

While it’s best to refrain from being exposed to all the bad types of germs and bacteria, it is okay to be a little dirty. Not all germs are bad, which makes it important that we don’t eliminate all germs from our existence.

Now it’s time to cringe. According to the National Institute of Health, the following household items have the most germs per square inch: a bathtub, kitchen sponge and cutting boards have up to 250,000 germs per square inch. Phones, kitchen handles, and sinks all possess up to a total of 25,000 germs per square inch. Pet bowls and beds have a total of 3,500 germs per square inch. Purses, microwave buttons, refrigerator doors, remotes, keyboards, and light switches, all have 2,500 germs per square inch. The American Dental Association recommends throwing out your toothbrush every three to four months. The toothbrush alone carries approximately 2,500 germs. Want to think twice about what you touch, now?

If you’re going to use a sponge, microwave your sponge weekly. Put it in for approximately two minutes. Studies show this may kill up to 99 percent of the germs and bacteria living inside your sponge.

However, the amount of bacteria present on a sponge is not as surprising as the amount of bacteria found on a phone. “Between the heat the phones generate and the germs on faces and hands, you’ve got a bacterial breeding ground. In fact, phones harbor 18 times more bacteria than a flush handle in a typical men’s restroom,” the National Institute of Health said.

Research states your kitchen sink is probably dirtier than your toilet seat. “A 2008 study completed by the Hygiene Council found that 52 percent of kitchen faucets were contaminated with harmful bacteria like E. coli,” the National Institute of Health said. In order to eliminate these germs, make sure you use bleach-based cleaners to scrub down your kitchen sink.

You can see there are some instances where being dirty is not so appealing. Get it together. Figure it out. Clean up your act.


              Julie Conlon can be contacted at



              Sam Norton can be contacted at


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