Uh oh. You woke up with a slight sore throat and your inner MD knows that a runny nose coupled with congestion is a hop, skip and a jump away. As you make a cup of tea with honey and lemon, you think back on what could have made you sick. Was it something you ate? Or maybe it's because you were too cute to wear a coat last night. But have you ever thought it could be because of something you touched? If you don't wash your hands properly, there are a number of things you touch every day that are hella germy and could be the reason why you get sick. Get into this list of five objects or places that could be the cause of your cough.
1. Microwave Touchpads
While doing your nightly chore of cleaning the kitchen (such a drab, but someone has gotta do it), how often do you disinfect the keys on your microwave? Microwaves mostly get cleaned on the inside, but the touchpads get neglected. Soap and water aren't enough to get rid of the grease, grime, and that one time you checked the temperature of your nacho cheese with your finger, licked the cheese off your finger, closed the microwave door, and touched the keypad to add more time... ewww. Use a spray bottle of Clorox Clean-up and a clean paper towel to remove all of the lingering food particles and body oils.
2. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
We often assume that the dewy glow of grocery store fruit means that it has been washed. But actually, grocery stores mist their produce to keep it from wilting, and that misting creates a breeding ground for germs. Combine that with the oodles of people who pick, squeeze and smell the goods, you'd be insane not to wash them thoroughly. To naturally disinfect produce, try a vinegar wash (combine 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 2 cups of water). Add the mixture to a spray bottle, spritz it on fruits and veggies, let it soak in for a 3 minutes, rinse and enjoy!
3. Restroom Soap Dispenser
You would think that using a soap dispenser is the first step towards germ-free hands, but this button may just be the germiest thing you touch all day. Students use the soap dispenser right after touching some of the most contaminated places in the restroom--the door handle, the toilet handle, and the stall latch--which can all contain fecal matter or cold viruses. So make sure you wash your hands for at least a full 20 seconds after touching the dispenser (sing "Happy Birthday" twice). Grab a clean paper towel to dry your hands and then use it to open the door on the way out. Now, don't you wish your school or job would invest in automatic soap dispensers?
4. Elevator Buttons
Do you ALWAYS wash your hands after coughing or sneezing into them? Think about all the times that you couldn't wash your hands (or didn't have hand sanitizer) and then multiply that number by the hundreds of people who may touch the elevator in your apartment building or in your college campus' student union. It makes us catch a cold just thinking about it. Use your knuckle, elbow, sleeve, or a tissue to push the button instead. You may look a little silly, but raising an eyebrow is better than raising your temperature. If you must touch the button, use antibacterial gel (a full teaspoon) before you touch your face or eat food.
5. Computer Lab Keyboards
The computer lab is a fun place to sneak off to during lunch. How else can you update your blog and twitter account simultaneously? But while you're staying connected to the world, you're also coming in contact with germy computer keyboards, which are filthier than toilets! Who knew? We are taught to wash our hands before eating, not before checking our Facebook accounts. Students who fail to wash their hands after using the bathroom or eating lunch are likely to blame for the dirty keyboards. Carry a travel size pack of antibacterial wipes in your purse to whip down the keyboard. These also work great for cleaning your dirty cell phone too :-)
Which one of these surprisingly dirty things shocked you the most? Tell us in the comments.