9 everyday objects that are complete germ-magnets

Germiest things to avoid
© Marie Clare // © Marie Clare

With cold and flu season kicking into high gear, people everywhere are looking for ways to cut down on exposure to germs. Flu shots, green juices and herbal teas are a few methods, but sometimes the greatest thing you can do is to avoid particularly germy places during the fall and winter months. The Internet is filled with lists naming the most germ-infested locations you might encounter, however our editors have a feeling you're aware of your vulnerability sitting in a doctor office waiting room or watching your kids at the playground. So we compiled a list featuring some germ-loaded, everyday objects that might not be top of mind.

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Makeup counter testers

It might be imperative to selecting the right shade, but avoiding makeup counter testers could have a significant impact on the amount of germs you pick up this winter season. An undercover test conducted by "Good Morning America" found that one out of every five samples tested from 10 stores across two states showed significant growth of mold, yeast or fecal matter. Better to be safe than sorry: buy and try the makeup at home or try and limit the number of items you test in the store.

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Soap dispensers

It seems odd, but studies have shown that even soap can harbor bacteria, and dispensers are no better. After being touched constantly with dirty hands, the dispenser is a feeding frenzy for bacteria and other germs, not to mention that the containers are not regularly cleaned. Give those germs little chance to make you sick by following good hand washing protocol: scrub hands, nails and wrists with plenty of hot water and soap for 15 to 20 seconds.

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Hotel room remote

Ask anyone who travels often for business about the number one hotel item to avoid, and you'll probably hear the same answer: the remote control. Rarely disinfected yet touched by almost every guest, the remote control is something to avoid when traveling this holiday season.

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Keyboard and mouse

When was the last time you took a serious look at your keyboard? Or thought about how many different people have used your mouse? If you're one that eats lunch at your desk, there's a good chance that much of your mid-day meal ends up on your computer equipment. And reports have shown that keyboards, in particular, can host a variety of potentially harmful bacteria. The same study that found that cell phones could be more contaminated than a public toilet seat found the same to be true for keyboards. If there were ever a reason to not eat at your desk, this would be it.

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Your cell phone/tablet

With people taking multitasking to the next level and bringing devices such as their cell phones and tablets into the bathroom, a recent study by British watchdog, Which?, claims that smartphones can be more contaminated with germs than a public toilet seat. Even if one draws the line at texting in the restroom, mobile devices carry more germs than ever before, as they travel with individuals everywhere. Switch up your cell phone cases often and be sure to invest in device-appropriate cleaning solutions.

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Restaurant menus

Do you usually wash your hands before sitting down in a restaurant? Chances are you don't. And if you happen to partake in that hygienic and much-appreciated practice, chances are other restaurant patrons do not. "Good Morning America" tested everyday restaurant items and found that menus, more than salt and pepper shakers on tables, are the germiest of germy restaurant items. Experts advise that patrons place their orders and then wash their hands after waiters take menus away.

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Lemon wedges

You might want to rethink ordering that water with a slice of lemon. Surprisingly, that ubiquitous wedge on the rim of your glass could make you sick. Anderson Cooper hosted an entire show on germs on his now-defunct daytime program, and found that the lemons are not always washed before sliced and added to your drink. Patrons end up moving bacteria from the lemon into their water—yikes.

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Condiment dispensers

We all know restaurants strive for cleanliness, but how often do you see them sanitizing their condiment dispensers? Tapletop items restaurant-goers have come to expect are touched by everyone, and probably not cleaned thoroughly and often enough to compensate for the amount of germs. Use some hand sanitizer before holding the bottle, or be sure to wash your hands after use.

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Winter gloves

You might think that by wearing gloves throughout the season, you're avoiding germs everywhere. That might be true to a certain extent, however busy lifestyles and work deadlines might distract you from a very necessary step: washing those gloves. Be sure to have a few pairs you can rotate throughout the season and have your gloves, depending on the fabric, dry-cleaned or washed. Gloves are also one of the best, cost-effective winter items to refresh yearly— treat yourself to a new pair each season to freshen up your wardrobe and keep you germ-free. 

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