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Toilet seats, phones and sneezes: Check out these juicy germ facts on Global Handwashing Day

October 15, 2020


Toilet seats, phones and sneezes: Check out these juicy germ facts on Global Handwashing Day

Your hands are gross. Your phone is gross. Your TV remote is gross.

The inside of your mouth? Don’t even get us started.

That is because they are all teeming with germs and bacteria.

And that is why you’re supposed to wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze. Those have been the healthy facts of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those behaviors are even MORE important as we head into flu and cold season.

“Good hand hygiene has never been more vital,” says Shane Walker, WellSpan senior director of infection control. “Washing your hands is a simple step you can take to stay healthy and help others stay healthy as we move into the cold weather months. Do it for yourself and for those you love.”

Still need some convincing?

Here are some juicy, gross germ facts that will give you all the yucky feels, courtesy of research studies done by the federal Centers for Disease Control, universities, tech and sanitation companies, and physicians.

Feel free to toss ‘em out during the next lull in a Zoom meeting or Facetime call with friends and family:

  • On average, you encounter 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing you to 840,000 germs.
  • There are more germs on your phone and keyboard than on your toilet seat.
  • Germs can survive for up to three hours on your hands.
  • Nearly 80 percent of illness-causing germs are spread by your hands.
  • Your hands spread 1,000 times more germs when they are damp than when they are dry, which underscores the importance of drying your hands after you wash them, using an air dryer or clean towel.
  • One in 10 people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, and of those that do, only about a third use soap.
  • About 7 percent of women and 15 percent of men do not wash their hands at all after using the bathroom.
  • Cool water washes away the same number of bacteria as hot water. The faucet water would have to be well above 100°F to kill all the bacteria on your hands, but temperatures that high can scald you. It's more important to use soap than hot water, because it removes more bacteria than water alone.
  • The correct length of time to wash your hands: 20 seconds (the time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” twice). The length of time most people actually wash their hands: 6 seconds.
  • There are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people in the world.
  • When you sneeze, you shoot droplets with up to 100,000 bacteria and viruses into the air at 100 mph. And those droplets can stay in the air for up to 10 minutes.
  • About 77 percent of people don’t observe good expectorant etiquette, either coughing or sneezing into their hands (about 53 percent) or not covering their cough or sneeze at all (about 24 percent). CDC says cough into a tissue and throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • About that Happy Birthday stuff: When people blow out candles on a birthday cake, there is a 1400 percent increase in bacteria on the frosting.
  • Bonus handwashing fact: The Guinness World Record holder for the most massive handwashing is Madhya Pradesh, an Indian state. The state won the title on Global Handwashing Day in 2014, getting 1,276,425 kids to wash their hands at the same time at more than 13,000 locations (mothers everywhere were amazed).