You probably have some—if not all—of these germ-spreading habits. Here’s why you might want to rethink them.
Texting on the toilet
When nature calls, germs (including fecal matter!) are released into the air and can land on surfaces… like your phone. Even if you wash your hands before leaving the bathroom, that bacteria is still stuck on your screen. Leave your phone behind the next time you make a trip to the restroom.
Using bar soap
Sure, soap cleans hands, but bars are actually breeding grounds for germs when they’re used by multiple people. Opt for liquid soap formulas instead.
Sharing hand towels
Sharing is caring—except when it comes to germs. Do your family a favour and give every member of the household his or her very own hand towel for the bathroom. Launder the towels at least once a week—or more, if you have small kids—to prevent bacteria buildup in fabric.
Not washing hands long enough
The optimal amount of time you should spend washing your hands (with warm water and soap) to get them squeaky-clean is 20 to 30 seconds. That’s about how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Yes, really.
Drying hands with the air dryer
Using a public restroom? You may want to skip the air dryer to dry hands. Here’s why: A study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that they can disperse bacteria throughout the room, including onto just-washed hands. Gross! Your best bet when in public? Use paper towels (and use them to open any doors to avoid picking up germs on your way out). If there are no paper towels, just shake your hands dry.
Leaving the toilet lid up when flushing
That lid is there for a reason! According to the American Journal of Infection Control, when you flush, the contents of the toilet (water and otherwise) get tossed around, sending a spray flying into the air that contains microscopic bacteria. If you don’t close the toilet lid, the bacteria can contaminate your hands, bathroom surfaces, and even objects like toothbrushes.
Chewing on pens
Do you know where that pen has been?! Even if you do, your mouth should probably not be one of those places. If the pen belongs to you, that still means your maybe-not-so-clean hands have touched it, and since chewing on a pen is usually a nervous habit that you do automatically, chances are you haven’t taken into account the cleanliness of the pen, or of your hands. Plus, gnawing on pens isn’t great for your teeth, either.
Opening things with your teeth
Yes, sometimes when you can’t get a package open, it may seem more convenient (and, occasionally, more effective!) to get it started using your choppers. However, not only can this be potentially damaging to your teeth, but it can also spread germs. In addition to the germs from your own mouth being transferred to the package, you’re also making contact with any germs that were already present on the packaging.
Blowing out birthday candles
Unless your birthday wish is to have germs all over your cake, you might want to reconsider this common tradition. When you blow out candles, you release bacteria that’s been inside your mouth. And guess where it goes? Toward the target of that air: the surface of the cake. While there’s a slim chance of actually getting sick from these germs, it’s still a little icky—especially since a study showed that blowing out candles causes the amount of bacteria on the surface of a cake to increase by 1,400 per cent.
Eating at your desk
Now you have an excuse to get up, walk around, and actually take a break during your lunch break. Not to gross you out, but your computer keyboard is most likely home to some serious germs, unless you clean it regularly. If you eat your food on the same surface as your keyboard, you run the risk of ingesting those germs, which are definitely not on the menu!