6 places germs hide
Here’s what to know about the popular places germs hide and how to avoid exposing yourself
Public breeding grounds
An invisible threat, germs can’t be easily avoided-especially if your day requires you to venture out of the house.
“Public places where a lot of people congregate, such as shopping malls, sports stadiums and restaurants, are likely to harbour bacteria and viruses that could give you a nasty gastrointestinal infection,” says Glen Armstrong, head of the Department of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.
It’s the surface areas people frequently touch which are most likely to be rife with germs, while a warm and moist environment offers the perfect breeding ground. “Indoor areas, especially ones that are overheated, facilitate the spread,” says Armstrong.
Here are the top places germs hang out, and how to best protect yourself.
As the first place we touch after we use the toilet, the faucet tap is bound to be one of the likeliest places to harbour bacteria, especially in public washrooms. Turning off the tap after washing your hands could even expose you to many of the germs you just attempted to wash away. To protect yourself, use a hand towel to turn off the facet when you’ve finished washing up.
Despite being a place where you cleanse yourself of the day’s grime, shower stalls are actually a great breeding ground for germs. Frequent use of the shower means its surfaces are often wet, allowing germs to multiply. To limit the spread of bacteria, wash your shower stall and tub regularly after use.
Sweaty, hot and full of people, virtually every surface area in the gym could harbour germs, from equipment handles to bicycle seats. Plus, the cloudy moisture in gyms can help airborne germs spread through the building. Most fitness centres ask members to clean equipment after use, but you can protect yourself further by wiping down equipment before you use it.
Elevator buttons may not look like the most unclean surface, especially in tidy offices and shopping malls. But when you consider how many people touch them every day, it makes sense to think of these as a high-traffic zone for germs.
It’s inevitable that you will touch at least one door handle during your day. And based simply on the number of other people who will also touch them, door handles are bound to pick up a germ or two. Frequent handwashing, especially before you eat, is your best plan of attack against this threat.
Possibly the most obvious home to germs, subways often aren’t the cleanliest commuter option. In busy cities such as Toronto and Montreal, huge volumes of people will pass through the subway system, leaving germs on turnstiles, grip rails and poles. Carrying a hand sanitizer with you on your commute may help keep germs at bay until you can wash your hands more thoroughly, says Armstrong.