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Do you know how many germs live in our homes?

Jakub Odcházel

Medically reviewed by Jakub Odcházel, Chief Optician, on 25 Sep 2020
Written by Maria Chiara Tarsia

Public toilets, restaurants, hotels, work, schools, buses. Most of us know that these places can be dirty and we follow the recommended hygienic rules in such places. Surely there’s nothing to worry about in our own home. Or is it there? The exceptional situation we are in due to the Coronavirus pandemic is making a lot of us rethink our habits and the spaces we live in. But before we start to panic, let's learn some facts that can help us properly navigate this delicate matter.

A dirty cleaning sponge has the same microbial density as human stool. But it’s not just the sponge. Our home can be – in terms of bacterial contamination – a very dangerous place to live.

A shocking example: did you know that there are more bacteria on a lift button than on a toilet seat? It might seem unbelievable, but it's true.


Where will you find the most bacteria in your home?

We might think that the dirtiest place in our houses is the bathroom, but a study of the NSF International Germ Household has shown that, surprisingly, the dirtiest place in the house is the kitchen. They ran a swab test on 30 common items in the households of 22 volunteer families, and found dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli in the alarming percentages listed below.

Kitchen

  • Bacteria was found on more than 75% of cleaning sponges
  • 45% of kitchen sinks
  • 32% of counter tops
  • 18% of cutting boards

Bathroom

  • Bacteria occurrence was proven on 27% toothbrush holders
  • 9% of bathroom faucet handles

Things of personal use

But it's not only about lifts, kitchens and loos. Our smartphones, keyboards and remote controls, being constantly and thoughtlessly in use, also need sanitising.


Bacteria on your smartphone

Why? A study published on the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health confirmed that there are more germs on the surface of our smartphones than on a toilet seat, 600 bacteria vs 30, which means 30 times more than the WC, to be precise.

How to keep contact lenses clean and safe

Contact lenses are manufactured using the strictest safety precautions. Therefore we can always be assured that they will come out of the box perfectly clean. And as we explained in a previous article, contact lenses are safe to wear also during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is important to follow simple rules, such as:
  • never touch the eyes nor apply/remove contact lenses if your hands are not freshly washed
  • restrain from wearing contacts when experiencing a flu or cold symptoms.


Before wearing contact lenses or touching our eyes and face in general, if soap and fresh water are not available, it is recommended to use a hand cleansing gel that will kill harmful germs and lower the risk of infection in the eye to a negligible 0,01%. This simple precaution can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16% .

Disposable contact lenses are the easiest solution. A fresh pair every day, no maintenance needed. To those who prefer two-weekly or monthly contacts, simply remember to follow a disinfection regimen everyday, using a good multi-purpose solution or a peroxide solution, for extra thorough cleaning.


Last but not least, when in doubt, we can simply switch to prescription glasses. And what if they fog up while using a mask? Read our useful tips against foggy glasses!


Here's how to maintain good hand hygiene

Hand-to-hand contact is one of the most common causes of bacteria transmission – statistics say that up to 80% of all infections are spread through touch. Further statistics also say that, despite these threats, we generally pay little attention to proper hand hygiene. For example, 15% of men and 7% of women don’t wash their hands even after using the toilet. So it's probably better to wave hello than shaking a hand!

Always wash your hands before and after:

  • blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • preparing food or touching non-washed fruit and vegetables
  • applying or removing contact lenses
  • taking care of a wound or a sick person
  • using the bathroom, changing a baby's diaper or helping kids in the bathroom
  • touching or feeding a pet, or after disposing of their excrements
  • dealing with garbage

and, of course, wash your hands when they are visibly dirty.

We know that this is not at all encouraging, but don't panic, there are constant dangers around us and, luckily, for this one there are several solutions. In short: always use soap, wash your hands for at least 30 seconds and dry them properly.


Wash your hands: how to
  • Wet your hands with water.
  • Apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  • Rub your hands palm to palm.
  • Rub the back of your left hand with the palm of your right hand with your fingers intertwined. Then repeat with the other hand.
  • Rub the back of your fingers against the palms of your hands with your fingers intertwined.
  • Grab your left thumb with your right hand and rub in rotation. Repeat with your left hand and right thumb.
  • Rub your fingertips into the other palm in a circular motion, going back and forth. Then repeat with the other hand.
  • Rinse your hands with water.
  • Dry them thoroughly, wirh a clean towel or with a disposable towel.
  • In public restrooms, use the disposable towel to turn off the tap.
Did you know that through shopping on Lentiamo you can receive a hand cleansing gel for free thanks to the Lentiamo bonus scheme?

Apart from all of this, also remember that not all germs and bacteria around us are bad, there are many that actually are good for our body and immune system. Most of them live inside of us, but they live in the skin as well.

The most common one is the Staphylococcal epidermis, which protects us from bacterial infections, so this article is not made for you to develop an obsession with cleaning and washing every minute!

Just keep a balance. You know, everything in excess is counterproductive.



Sources:

1. Eww! New Study Finds Expensive Hotels Have More Germs, https://www.yahoo.com/…0050794.html
2. Trachoma, http://www.who.int/…ts/fs382/en/
3. Facts about hand washing and hand hygiene, https://b4brands.com/…ing-hygiene/
4. NSF International Household Germ Study, http://www.nsf.org/…-summary.pdf
5. Good Bacteria Vs. Bad Bacteria: How Bacteria Can Be Healthy Too!, https://www.scienceabc.com/…healthy.html

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