Top Seven Germiest Places Outside Your Home

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Whether you’re out and about running weekend errands, taking the kids to the park, or heading to school or work, you can run into a lot of germs and bacteria on an average day. Here are some of the surfaces most likely to harbor them, and how you can help protect yourself and your family from germs—and from getting sick.

  • Public drinking fountains: That refreshing sip of water can come at a price. Fountains can be handled every day by countless people, who leave their germs behind on the handle and spout, and in the sink area. School drinking fountains are particularly prone to harboring bacteria. To cut your risk, send your child to school with her own water bottle, and take a bottle of water with you when you’re out.

  • ATM buttons: Like drinking fountains, these buttons collect germs and bacteria from the stream of people making transactions on any given day. Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for use before and after you withdraw cash.

  • Shopping cart handles: They are handled by dozens of people every day, and they harbor the germs and bacteria to show for it. Many grocery stores provide sanitizing wipes for you to use, but be prepared if they don’t. Carry a travel pack in your purse for these occasions.

  • Playground equipment: Children touch their faces and put their hands in their nose and mouth more than adults do, so the swing sets and jungle gyms they play on can harbor a lot of germs. Clean your child’s hands with hand sanitizer several times during your stay at the playground, especially before eating. And have her wash her hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap such as Safeguard® when you get home.

  • Restaurant menus: Probably never disinfected, menus can be handled by hundreds of people, and germs and cold and flu viruses can collect there. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after you order, and before you eat.

  • Restroom door handles: Try to use a tissue, a paper towel, or your sleeve to prevent touching these surfaces.

  • Doctor’s offices: a doctor’s office may be one of the toughest places to avoid germs. Try not to handle the books and magazines (bring your own to read), and if you are taking your child to the pediatrician, take her toys with you to keep her entertained. Use hand sanitizer after you leave the appointment.