9. Restaurant Menus
Restaurant workers are generally quick to clean off tables between diners. However, restaurant menus are often overlooked when it comes to keeping the restaurant clean and sanitary. Plastic-coated restaurant menus may harbor live cold or flu viruses for 24 to 48 hours. AARP suggests that when dining out, avoid contact between your menu and your dishes or silverware. Additionally, take the time to wash your hands with warm water and soap after placing your order and returning your menu to the server.
8. Paper Money
Dollar bills can remain in circulation for years. Your cash probably has a rich history of traveling from person to person. Like other items handled by many people, money can carry germs that can be transferred to your hands. A study in the journal Applied and Environmental Biology found that the flu virus can live on paper money as long as 17 days. You may not want to think about the germs on paper bills used by persons who have not washed their hands following restroom use. Be sure to give your hands a good washing following any money transactions.
7. Shared Pens
Communal pens, such as those found in office buildings, the post office, or grocery store checkout areas can also harbor illness-causing germs. Avoid using shared pens by carrying your own in your purse or pocket. If you must use a communal pen, be sure to wash your hands afterwards, as germs can live on the hard surface of objects like pens and pencils. For proper handwashing, the CDC advises lathering your hands with soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds to kill germs before rinsing.