Win the Battle of the Bugs!

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

There are many precautions we can take to decrease our chances of contracting and spreading the disease causing germs that share our spaces with us. The best thing that we can do is to practice careful hygiene by frequent handwashing and being cautious about the things that we touch. The Center for Disease Control recommends that we frequently wash our hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the day.

There are hidden germs all around us, invisible to us, and easily transferred to our hands. According to the CDC, human flu viruses can survive on surfaces for two to eight hours. In favorable conditions, some bacteria like E. coli, can divide every 20 minutes. We need to be particularly careful about objects that we share with others (phones, copy machines, doorknobs). The following is a list of the “Dirty Dozen” – 12 top things with hidden germs:

  • Airline food trays
  • Remote controls
  • Faucets (especially bathroom)
  • Phones
  • Computer keyboards & mice
  • Door handles (especially bathroom)
  • Gas pumps
  • Tables (kitchen, conference, office, etc.)
  • Furniture arms, theater armrests, chairs
  • Escalator handrails
  • Elevator buttons
  • Shopping cart handles and seats

Statistics on the germs that linger on these objects can be downright frightening! According to Charles Gerba, PhD, microbiology professor at the University of Arizona, 71 percent of gas pump handles are contaminated with germs that can make you ill. A 2005 study showed that 18 percent of people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Multiple studies show that 80 percent of infections are spread by hand. Since we can’t live in a bubble, it is important to be proactive in stopping the spread of these pesky microorganisms. In addition to personal hygiene, we can keep the objects around us sanitized as well.

Carrying anti-bacterial wipes can help us in our battle against the bugs. There are many different brands of wipes available. It is important to find a brand that guarantees to kill 99.9 percent of germs and can serve as a hand and surface wipe. These pocket-sized, germ-busting disinfectant wipes are individually sealed, offering convenience of carrying them in your purse, travel bag, brief case, gym bag, backpack or diaper bag. It is also a good idea to place them in your vehicle, desk drawer or your child’s lunchbox. Caution: disinfectant wipes, lotions and gels do not replace the role of handwashing in infection control. Use these convenient disinfectants when a handwashing station is not available.

Our bodies defense system can fight off many germs, but we should take precautions when possible. Handwashing remains our first and best line of defense against the harmful germs in our environment.