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The germy items we're surrounded by daily

The germy items we're surrounded by daily
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Our personal items are grosser than we think. Here’s what might be living on your phone, your gym clothes, your handbag…

Your phone

Your phone
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Mobile phones deliver more than messages: According to University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD – aka Dr Germ – these electronic wonders are often coated with everything from faecal matter to MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant evil cousin of staph. “Sharing your phone can make the problem even worse,” he explains. “The bacteria that lives on your skin probably won’t make you sick, but someone else’s just might if you rub your eye or eat before washing your hands.” The solution? “Wipe your phone down with an alcohol-based towelette at least once a day,” advises Dr Gerba.

Discover 13 ways your smartphone affects your body and mind. 

Your handbag or backpack

Your handbag or backpack
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Purses go where we go: to the store, to restaurants and to the bathroom, where, more often than not, they’re plopped onto the floor. Then you come home, toss it onto the kitchen counter, and go through the mail. Guess what you’ve left on your counter, waiting for you to start dinner? Dr Gerba says probably an icky mess of E. coli and other germs.

You should wash your hands immediately after touching these 1o things.

Reusable grocery bags

Reusable grocery bags
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You remembered to take your own grocery bags into the store – congratulations! Now, when was the last time you cleaned them? If you can’t remember, don’t feel bad: Dr Gerba shares that just 3 percent of people wash theirs regularly. What’s at risk? “The meat leaks, you don’t notice, then back the bags go into your warm, dark car boot,” he explains. “Two days later, you put a head of lettuce in the same bag. Now you’ve got the makings of salmonella salad.” It’s an easy fix – toss your bags into the washer or spray them down with a bleach-based cleanser after every use.

Here are 5 essential food safety tips for proper food handling.

Your child’s car seat

Your child’s car seat
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Car seats do more than keep your baby safe. According to Dr Gerba, they’re a haven for mould, faecal bacteria and other nasties as well. “Kids touch their faces an average of 60 times an hour, meaning just about everything they touch goes into their eyes, nose or mouth, which are the entry points for bacteria,” he explains. “Keep their seat clean and wipe their hands with sanitiser as soon as you get them out of the car.”

Don’t miss these 7 incredibly dangerous parenting moves even cautious parents make by mistake. 

Your yoga mat

Your yoga mat
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“You name it and you’ll find it on a floor,” says Philip Tierno, PhD, a microbiologist. “When you roll up your yoga mat, anything it has picked up transfers from the floor to your hands and the other side of the mat.” The solution? Take the time to disinfect your mat after every use.

Learn how to decrease your chances of catching a cold. 

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Water bottles

Water bottles
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Still carrying a plastic water bottle? According to Dr Tierno, you might want to consider switching to metal. “Metal can be inhibitory to bacterial growth,” he says. “Plastic may allow microorganisms to adhere, build up and create a biofilm, which encourages their growth.” Although not all of these germs can cause disease, play it safe and use a bottle brush to scrub the inside of your water bottle every day, especially if you’ve filled it with something other than water.

Here are 45 facts that will stop you using plastic. 

Gym clothes

Gym clothes
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Sweaty workout wear is more than gross: It can also carry pathogens like rhinovirus and staph that you may have picked up at the gym. And if that isn’t bad enough, some workout clothes get worn more than once before they’re washed. “That time between washings not only gives the germs time to incubate, but can also create an environment where mould can grow,” says Steven Fiester, PhD, a microbiologist. “Get in the habit of washing your gym clothes after every workout.”

Contact lenses

Contact lenses
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Scientists know that most of the bacteria we run into is beneficial, but when it comes to your eyes, it’s best to stay squeaky clean. “Contacts may come out of the case sterile, but if you pop them into your eyes with a dirty finger you run the risk of everything from conjunctivitis to an infection of the cornea,” says William Schaffner, PhD, an infectious disease and public health specialist. “Keep your hands clean and you’ll be amazed at how healthy you’ll stay.”

Your dog’s leash

Your dog’s leash
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It’s dragged through, well, everything, but how often do we clean, or replace, our dog’s leash? Practically never. “You have no idea what’s on the ground, so be safe and wash your hands when you return from walking your dog,” says Elizabeth Scott, PhD, a microbiologist. “On that same note, don’t let your dog lick your face. They spend a lot of time with their mouths in things you don’t want on your face.”

Every dog and cat owner should learn these 14 cleaning hacks. 

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