Wash Your Hands: The Dirtiest Places You Encounter Every Day

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you know that 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch?


Washing your hands frequently is important. In fact, it is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of contagious diseases when done correctly. Some viruses may be relatively resistant to disinfection with alcohol rubs, but hand washing with soap increases contact time, creates friction, and dissolves grease and dirt, which contain high concentration of microbes.

Most of us wash our hands before and after we eat, but what about all the other germs we come in contact with every single day? According to Phillip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU, the average person will come into contact with 60,000 germs every single day, although only about 1 to 2 percent of those are actually potentially dangerous to people with normal immunity.

Here’s a look at the places that you may encounter on a daily basis that contain the most germs. Always wash your hands after coming in contact with these places and things! 

Toothbrush holders

According to a 2011 study, the toothbrush holder placed  third amongst the most germy places in the house. This is because most toothbrushes and holders are near toilets, and when someone flushes the toilet they are exposed to contaminated water droplets in the air. It is a good idea to clean your toothbrush holder by running it through the dishwasher’s high-temperature cycle every week.

Pets, Pet Toys, and Bowls

Pets can transmit bacteria, viruses, and parasites to kids through their waste, saliva, or dander. It doesn’t end there, the toys that pets play with and the bowls they drink out of can be a source of coliform, which is a family of bacteria that contains E. Coli. People should always wash their hands after touching pets or pet toys, dishes, and food.


Kids love to play in the backyard, and exposure to certain bacteria in dirt is actually good for kids, experts say. However, beware of some hazards including bacterias and viruses found in certain animal droppings.


You mean the place we get our food from is one of the dirtiest places in our home? Absolutely. There are plenty of disgusting things that can leak bacteria around the fridge including open condiments and sauces, a leaky meat package, spoiled milk, and bad fruit. Salmonella, campylobacter, and norovirus, which can cause upset stomach and diarrhea, are common bacteria and viruses found in the kitchen. To avoid contamination, properly store food that goes bad easily. It is also a good idea to wash and disinfect refrigerator walls and shelves frequently.


If you haven’t cleaned your floor in awhile you will start to notice how grimy it begins to look. Some of the factors that cause this are food spills, grease, and the combination of us and our pets walking around, especially with shoes on. It is not only hard floor surfaces that can accumulate germs, as carpet and hard floors may be covered in mold, dust mites, outside dirt, food particles, and even bits of insects. These can trigger allergies and asthma attacks in people who are prone to these conditions. Certain fungi that cause athlete’s foot and ringworm also can be lurking on your floor surface.

Standing Water

For many kids, a pool of standing water, whether its a pond or a puddle after a storm, is a fun place to play and get wet. However, it’s also a melting pot for mold, mildew, bacteria, and insects such as mosquitoes, which can transmit West Nile virus and other diseases.

Play Spots and Gyms

For kids, schools and day care centers are breeding grounds for germs. Schools with sports or playground facilities and equipment are hot spots for the spread of bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The same goes for working out in a gym, because we all know the people who actually go around with a spray bottle and clean the machines are few and far between.

Shopping Malls

Again, another place with a lot of human traffic that contains all sorts of germs. What are some of the places where the germs call home most frequently? Studies show escalator rails, elevator buttons, video game controllers (such as at movie theaters and arcades), and ATMs as germ hot spots because they are not cleaned regularly. Although washing hands can be a great help, you need to make sure you scrub thoroughly because public restrooms carry a lot of germs.

Wash your hands!

As you can now see, it is important to practice good hand washing techniques throughout the day. More importantly, it is important to teach your kids about the different places bacteria, viruses, and germs lurk and teach them proper hand washing techniques as well. Washing your hands is especially important after using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose, but you should do your best to wash your hands after coming in contact with some of the things listed in this article. Always use warm water and work up a good, soapy lather for about 20 seconds. When washing your hands you want to make sure you are getting in between fingers, underneath your nails, and over the back of the hands. Although hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are good alternatives, washing with water is still the best way!