How a Germ Microbiologist Cleans

If you’ve ever heard news that scientists have discovered that “this or that everyday object contains more bacteria than a toilet seat”, you are probably familiar with the work of Dr. Charles Gerba – whether you realize it or no. He is a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, but his friends and colleagues call him “Dr. Germ”. Why? He has devoted his life to publishing countless studies on the germs that infiltrate our daily lives and is one of the leading American experts on the subject.

And since he spent decades studying toilet sprays, the germs of kitchen sponges, how quickly viruses can spread in an office, etc. Here’s what we found out.

He worries more about the kitchen than the bathroom.

Dr. Gerba says that since we have been conditioned to want to clean our bathroom regularly (it sounds like the most rude place, does it?), We don’t forget about it as we cook . “Americans are terrified of their toilet seats,” he says, “so the sinks, faucets, and floors are generally cleaner than the kitchen. In addition, the kitchen is where children usually enter after playing. ”

Which places deserve a little more attention? Well, Dr. Gerba half jokingly calls the faithful sponge “an evil object” – and so he changes his at least once a month.

“Cutting boards would also be high on my list,” he says. “When testing them, we noticed that they seem to be overlooked – and you should also remember to have them dedicated to vegetables and others to meats. The handle of the refrigerator door can also become very bad, because it’s used a lot and people tend to hang towels on it. The same goes for kitchen faucets. “

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He pays particular attention to the bottom of the refrigerator.

“Everything flows and falls over there,” he says. “So anything stored in the bottom of the refrigerator is much more likely to be contaminated. And this is the first place where there will be mold.”

And he winces when he sees handbags on the counters.

We are sure that Dr. Gerba is not following his wife with a disinfectant wipe (or we hope he is not), but we must report his repulsion to something that many of us women are probably doing everyday. “A quarter of scholarships have E-coli on them“, he says.” And we found out that people were putting them right next to where they were about to make a sandwich! ”

But he no longer cares too much about the soil.

Regarding the space under our feet, the logical side of Dr. Gerba appears loud and clear: “I no longer have children who crawl – and I do not crawl on the ground either – so this is the “one of the things I clean the least now,” he says. “But my wife doesn’t like it when you start sticking to the ground!”

He makes sure to regularly wash reusable grocery bags.

“There should be warnings with this information,” says Dr. Gerba. “Fifty percent of people never wash them, and they contain more bacteria than your underwear – and your car is like the incubator.”

Because people consider these bags to be “eco-friendly” or otherwise generally virtuous, they tend to forget that the bags are also dirty and harbor bacteria – like everything you handle often. But these bags contain your food, which makes the situation even more worrisome. Dr. Gerba’s family chooses easily washable grocery bags and has a variety to limit cross-contamination between foods. “My wife gave us reusable bags in different colors – some for meat, some for boxes and some for products,” he says.

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He suggests that you wash the towels about once a week – but it is usually replaced with paper towels.

“I used to wipe my face on a towel in the morning, but now I can’t do it anymore,” says Dr. Gerba. “I know there are E. coli “He says you should change your face and towels at least once a week – and more often if you have young children.

“I tend to use a lot of paper towels now,” he says. “Some people say it’s not environmentally friendly, but you will definitely use a lot of toilet paper if you have diarrhea!”

He prefers disinfectant wipes over sprays.

“If you’re using a spray, you’re supposed to wet the area and let it sit for 10 minutes, which nobody does,” says Dr. Gerba. “I like to use the wipes, and in our research we have found that they are as effective as bleach in disinfecting.”

But it also reminds us that you can’t rely on a single wipe to disinfect your entire kitchen – if you wipe one in several places, you risk spreading bacteria. “You can clean about one square meter of space – to clean the kitchen, it usually takes about three of them.”

He probably uses more hand sanitizer than you do.

“Strategically, I use a hand sanitizer about 4 or 5 times a day,” says Dr. Gerba. He acknowledges what you may have heard of these things in recent years – that antimicrobial disinfectants and soaps are not as effective as hand washing. Although health experts say you can’t just rely on hand sanitizer (you need to wash your hands!), It seems the products of most concern are those that contain triclosan, which is not not the hand sanitizer – it usually uses alcohol to kill germs. And a hand sanitizer could help keep your hands as clean as possible when you don’t have access to clean water and soap.

“My personal opinion is that it’s better than fair wash your hands, “says Dr. Gerba, citing his belief that it is more difficult to wash your hands properly than most people think.” You have to wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds and then recontaminate again when you touch the bathroom door handle – and worse if it’s a public toilet. Most of the bacteria are on your hands, and research shows that you get sick less often if you use a hand sanitizer. “

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He will even take out the hand sanitizer after doing the laundry.

“We tested people’s hands after taking wet laundry and putting it in the dryer, and there was E. coli on them, “says Dr. Gerba. Why? Because the bacteria in your laundry (including the worst offenders like underwear and towels) aren’t washed down the drain. They build up in the drum of the washer and detergent is not enough to kill bacteria (you need hot water and / or bleach for this).

And after his grandchildren play on playgrounds, that is, if he lets them get close to a playground at all.

“I will not let my grandchildren go to the playgrounds, although some of them have hand sanitizers these days,” says Dr. Gerba. “The playgrounds are basically public restrooms for birds, and you will never see, say, a soccer ball without E. coli above. Whenever we have small children, we make them use a hand sanitizer – we have tested children’s hands and they all E. coli on them.”

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