Business Insider Edition

5 gross reasons why you should wash your hands more often

Lindsay Dodgson , Business Insider US
 May 26, 2019, 03:25 PM
  • You're probably not washing your hands as much as you should.
  • Germs are everywhere, from your commute, to your desk, to your own smartphone.
  • We touch our faces many times a day, so whatever is on your hands has a chance of making its way into your system and making you ill.
  • Here are six surprising and gross reasons you should take yourself to the sink more often than you are.
  • For more stories, go to the Business Insider SA home page.


While everyone seems to be having a debate about whether or not they wash their legs in the shower, it's probably a good time to remind you of how important it is to wash your hands. It was also World Hand Hygiene Day earlier this month.

According to the CDC, dangerous germs like Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus can enter our systems and make us sick if we don't wash our hands after going to the toilet, handling raw meat, or touching any contaminated object.

But while most of us learned this at school, we may still be washing our hands a lot less than we should. We touch our faces many times a day, so whatever is on your hands has a chance of making its way into your system.

Here are six surprising and gross reasons why you should take yourself to the sink more often than you are.

1. You probably touch a lot of door handles

While viruses generally can't stick to door handles for very long, bacteria can linger a lot longer. According to BBC Science Focus, Salmonella only stays on the surface for four hours, but MRSA - the antibiotic resistant strain of a common bacteria - can last several weeks. C. difficile, bacteria that affects the bowel, can remain as long as five months.

2. The sponge in your kitchen sink is really dirty

In 2018, the BBC's Trust Me I'm a Doctor team performed an experiment to see how quickly germs grew back on kitchen surfaces when they'd been cleaned with anti-bacterial wipes. In first place were kitchen sink sponges and wipes - 75% of them were contaminated with coliform bacteria like E. coli. So while your hands might feel clean when you've finishing the dishes, you should wash your hands again with soap to make sure.

3. Your office desk could have more germs than a toilet seat

Research from last year found that the average desk surface could contain 400 times more germs than a toilet seat. Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Helicobacter pylori are probably there in their thousands - 3,295 on the keyboard, 1,676 on a mouse, and 25,127 on the phone.

4. Even the cleanest restaurants are not spotless

Today ranked the six dirtiest places in a restaurant in 2017. In first place, unsurprisingly, were high chairs and booster seats for children. But in second place were menus, which can have as many as 185,000 germs per square centimeter.

5. Your phone is filthy

When was the last time you cleaned your smartphone? Probably never. You might want to rectify that, as research has shown our phones could be covered in 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats.

The good news is if you only use your own phone, you're not going to get sick from the bacteria you've put there. But if you use anyone else's, you might not be so lucky.

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