Uncovering Everyday Habits that Spread Germs

women washing hands with hand sanitiser

From touching your face, eating at your desk, and even using your mobile phone, these daily habits are germier than you may think. Just by carrying out your normal daily activities, you could be spreading germs without even realising it.

Germs can’t be avoided but there are ways we can minimise the risk of particularly harmful germs spreading. This blog will guide you through the daily habits that spread germs and how you can keep these pesky infection-transmitting- microorganisms at bay.

What germs harm your health?

Although many germs and bacteria promote our health and are beneficial to our bodies, there are unfortunately, many that can cause upsetting infectious diseases and sometimes fatalities. These nasty germs include E. coli, Salmonella, Influenza, HIV, MRSA, and Candida. Some of which you may have heard of, but some may be of news to you.

As humans have evolved, so have germs and the chances of contracting viruses such as gastrointestinal illness, continue to rise. However, there are many ways you can prevent the spread of germs that make you and others feel unwell. Keep reading to find out how you can simply adjust a few of your daily habits to reduce the spreading of germs to others.

Daily habits to watch out for

One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say, which is why we are here to show you the daily habits to watch out for. Download our everyday habits that spread germs infographic. 

habits that spread germs infographic

1. Poor handwashing

It goes without saying but not properly washing or drying your hands can spread germs. It is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.

Practising good hand hygiene is not only beneficial to yourself but to others as well, as we can carry over 3,200 different germs on our hands, as well as infectious diseases including MRSA and e-coli.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot, soapy water, and make sure you have hand sanitiser (preferably an alcohol-based hand sanitiser) available for when you are out and about.

2. Improper food handling

You should always practice good hand hygiene before and after cooking, to prevent potentially harmful germs on your hands from being transferred to your food. Yet, there are other ways you can prevent spreading germs whilst preparing food.

Clean your sink and kitchen sponges

You may think that the sink may be one of the cleanest places in your home and office, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your kitchen sponge can harbour up to 10 million bacteria per square inch, which is 200,000 times more than a toilet seat! And dish towels have been shown to host the infectious disease, salmonella. With these statistics, it is important that you regularly replace your sponges with fresh ones and clean towels in the washing machine to avoid spreading germs or food particles around your kitchen.

Your sink also needs to be regularly scrubbed. Being the main water source for cooking, cleaning, preparing food, drinking and hand washing, it can meet millions of germs every day, which can then be spread throughout your home. Workplaces should also ensure communal sinks and kitchens are cleaned on a consistent basis.

Don’t wash raw meat

One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illnesses is by thawing, treating, and cooking raw meat correctly. Washing meat in the sink can cause cross-contamination from the germs on the meat to your sink, tap, kitchen surfaces, towels, sponges and onto yourself. Worse still, washing meat does not kill any harmful bacteria, instead, it just spreads them!

Regularly disinfect kitchen surfaces

Harmful bacteria such as E-coli can survive on kitchen surfaces for over 4 hours and viruses including Hepatitis A can survive for months. Strive to clean your kitchen surfaces before and after you use them, to prevent spreading germs to other parts of the kitchen and to the rest of your household or in workplaces.

3. Using your mobile phone

On average you will use your mobile phone around 47 times a day, which is plenty of time for those harmful germs to spread everywhere else you are going to touch next. Research studies have shown that over 17,000 bacterial genes can be found on a mobile phone! Fortunately, there is a simple and quick way to prevent the spread of these germs. Simply wiping your phone over with a microfiber cloth will remove most of the germs, and avoiding taking your phone into the toilet will also help keep you safe from any bacteria that like to live on your SmartScreen.

4. Your pet

You may not know this but every year around 2,000 Americans get stomach flu after ingesting a common bacteria found around pets mouths, called Campylobacter and diarrhoea from Salmonella. So, try and avoid those sloppy kisses.

Another common fungus that dogs can transmit to humans, is ringworm, around 2 million people suffer from it each year. But it is pretty simple to avoid these infections harming you. Ensure you clean all the places where germs would like to live, including their toys, bowls, bedding and surfaces regularly.

The good news is that the health benefits of owning an animal companion far outweigh the negatives. Simply petting an animal lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress, whilst other research has shown that dog owners are 8.6 times more likely to live longer than those without a dog!

5. Not closing the toilet lid

Have you ever heard of the toilet sneeze effect? It is when you flush the toilet and all the bacteria, germs and faecal matter are projected into the air landing on the surrounding surfaces. With every flush, you are covering your bathroom surfaces, door handles, hand towels, toothbrush and even yourself in dirty, harmful bacteria in seconds, just by leaving the seat up!

If there is one thing you take away from today, start closing the lid before you flush. If you own a business, encourage your employees and customers to do the same!

6. Using your teeth to open things

Opening stuff with your teeth is never a good idea, not only can you cause damage to your teeth and gums you can also spread germs into your mouth. This makes you at a much higher risk of infection, and with anything to do with teeth, a lovely medical bill as well!

This goes for not only opening things with your teeth but chewing things as well. Fingernails, pens, and jewellery should not go into your mouth. Dentists strongly state that unless it’s food, don’t be tempted!

7. Touching your face

Studies have shown that you will subconsciously touch your face up to 16 times an hour, each time increasing your risk of infections! The mucous membranes that harbour bacteria and viruses on your face can cause respiratory illnesses such as colds, flu, and pneumonia, this is because your eyes and mouth are areas where viruses can enter the body the most easily.

The best way to prevent these pretty gross germs from causing you any harm is frequent handwashing and using hand sanitiser regularly.

Another great tip is to wash your face before you go to bed, to prevent any germs from spreading onto your pillows, where they will harbour and multiply until those bedsheets are washed!

8. Eating at your desk

Studies have found that eating at your desk enables bacteria and viruses including e-coli to creep into your food. This is because your desk is one of the most touched, yet least cleaned surfaces in the office. Think about when the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard. It may be worth having some disinfectant wipes on your desk for quick and effortless clean-ups.

Your physical and mental well-being can also benefit from leaving your desk at lunch, with studies showing that those who take a break are more productive and reduce stress, plus there are a lot fewer crumbs for you to clean up.

9. Sharing toys or other items

We all know how common it is for young children to have constant runny noses when they start school or nursery. And that is in part due to them sharing toys with others, which have not been cleaned. The same goes for sharing items later in life.

To prevent germs from being passed on via objects, avoid sharing things like towels, lipstick, straws, and other items that come into contact with saliva or other bodily fluids.

How to prevent the spread of germs

Following the tips already provided in this article will help to avoid the spread of harmful germs, but there are other simple steps you can take:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick,
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue,
  • If you are unwell then stay home,
  • Disinfect common areas,
  • Bin tissues as soon as possible.

Find out more on how you can prevent the spread of germs and stay safe

For more guidance on how to keep the spread of germs and bacteria at bay, check out our blog that covers this and more topics on hand hygiene, the washroom experience, menstrual hygiene and more.

Find out how we can help elevate your washroom experience. Talk to us.

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