Are you a germophobe? I know I am. I have been one for many years.
It used to be my worst nightmare taking our young children to use a public restroom. Our girls still laugh about how I was constantly saying, “Don’t touch anything” and “Wash your hands for longer — use your paper towel to open the restroom door.”
Of course when you have young children, there’s not much you can do when they are out in the world, at school or at a friends’ house. And young children, no matter how much you try to “train” them, are not the cleanest of people — they don’t wash their hands enough and when they do wash them, they don’t worry about doing a really good job.
As adults, we are well aware of the germ-filled world. But do you know where the most common places that carry the most germs are?
Many of these will seem obvious, but hopefully a few will be eye opening.
• Airports and airplanes. I cannot tell you how many times Paul has been on a trip and gotten sick afterward. Unfortunately, many times I have also gotten sick from his illness. Germ experts say one way to avoid this is to use antibacterial wipes to wipe down your airport seat, backrest and fold down tray. I know there is no way Paul will do this, but I certainly do. Of course, be meticulous about washing your hands and wiping down anything you can.
• Grocery stores. I love that most stores provide antibacterial wipes at their door entrances now. I always carry a pack in my purse just in case they have an empty container. Wipe down that cart and then use a fresh wipe to wipe off your hands. One study I read said that the doors of the freezer cases are the dirtiest — I mean how often do they clean those doors?
• Restaurants. Most notably, menus and chairs can contain lots of germs. It might be weird to walk into a restaurant and begin wiping off the chairs and menus with anti-bacterial wipes, but just be mindful of the germs and wash your hands before eating.
• Doctor’s offices. Of course, this sounds commonsensical, but I read a study that said the dirtiest place at the doctor’s office is the pen at the sign-in clipboard. Just makes sense, but until I read that study, I would not have thought about that.
• Hotels. No matter how clean a hotel room seems, I am always worried about lurking germs. Some studies suggest that the “germiest” places in a hotel room are the light switches and the television remote controls. Just take a few minutes to wipe these off with some antibacterial wipes. Also, I always wear socks or slippers because I don’t trust hotels have those carpets cleaned too often.
• Gas pumps. I mean, think about it. Who cleans these? Always use wipes after you pump your gas — and then wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible.
• Sponges and rags in the kitchen. I have never been a fan of kitchen sponges. I much prefer using rags and then, after using them once, tossing them into the washing machine. If you do use sponges, be sure to sterilize them in the dishwasher daily after each use.
• The gym. This is probably a no-brainer to most, but definitely use caution when you work out at the gym. Most gyms provide spray cleaner and rags so you can wipe down the equipment before and after you use it, but with all of those people, there are still plenty of airborne germs. Wash your hands a lot and be super intentional about wiping down that equipment. I recommend you bring your own yoga mat for sure.
Are you a fellow germaphobe? If so, what crazy measures do you do to avoid germs and getting sick? As always, I love hearing from readers!
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.