everyday germiest objects
*This article has been updated, January 2020

Subscriber and loyal follower of A Sharp Eye, Sharlie R., suggested we write an article on what everyday objects carry the most germs. It was a great idea, particularly at this time of year when there are still lots of nasty illnesses going around.  Cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces.  In all the research I did, every study had different germy objects.  Germs are everywhere!  These are items we all touch without giving any thought to the germs we might be picking up.

Kimberly Clark Professional did a study of everyday objects and discovered the following:

71 % of gas station pump handles were highly contaminated when tested

50% of escalator rails were found to have contagious germs

35% of vending machine buttons had germs

Cross walk buttons were slightly less than 35% contaminated

41% of ATM buttons were contaminated

AARP put out the following list of the top germiest things people touch every day:

Restaurant menus – they never get washed and if it’s a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus.

Lemon wedges – nearly 70% of lemon wedges on your tall glass of iced tea or on your plate contain disease-causing microbes.

Condiment dispensers

Restaurant door handles

Grocery carts

Airplane bathrooms

Doctors’ offices

A study of workout spots discovered the germiest places to be:


Yoga mats

Your cell phone

Bike seats

Treadmill hand rails

Locker room showers

In addition, these items also showed up on germ lists:

Your very own grocery store recycle bag – wash that thing!

Coffee stirrers in coffee shops that get touched by everyone reaching for one

If you travel, beware of:

The comforter on your hotel room bed.  Sheets and towels get washed, but comforters rarely do.

TV remotes

Alarm clocks

Ice bucket

Tray tables on airplanes

How to avoid germs:

  • Carry tissues with you to protect your hands when opening doors or touching any of the above objects
  • Try not to touch your eyes or mouth without washing your hands first
  • Use anti-bacterial hand cleaner and sanitizing wipes when you must – they can be hard on your hands
  • Use protective toilet seats in public restrooms
  • Clean and disinfect items that are handled often in your home

Note:  Here are the studies we cited if you’d like more information:

Kimberly Clark Professional study

AARP study

A Sharp Eye’s 10 Tips For Staying Healthy This Year

common cold prevention