8 Things To Avoid Touching To Avoid Germs

4:37 PM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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(WUSA9) -- You've heard the advice to wash your hands and get a flu shot. But what else can you do to try and avoid spreading germs at the height of flu season? 

Today, AARP released a list of 8 things you may want to try and avoid touching, that might not be on your radar.

1.) Restaurant Menus

Hundreds of people could have touched that menu you're using to decide what to order. But what are the odds it's been washed since they did? Try not to let it touch your plate or silverware. And once you've handed it back to the server, head to the restroom and wash your hands.

2.) Lemon Wedges

Back in 2007, a study in the Journal of Environmental Health found that nearly 70% of the lemon wedges found on the edge of restaurant glasses contained disease-causing microbes. So play it safe, and just ask your server to skip the garnish.

3.) Condiment Dispensers

You may wash your hands before every meal, but did the last person at your table? Don't take the risk -- and before you pour either use a disinfectant wipe on the outside of the bottle, or grab it with a napkin.

4.) Restroom Door Handles

This one can be pretty easy to protect yourself. When you grab that paper towel to dry your hands after you wash them, hang on to it when you open the door. 

5.) Soap Dispensers

It may seem ironic, but a study out of the University of Arizona found that 25% of public restroom soap dispensers are actually contaminated with fecal matter. Microbiologists suggest that when you do have to use one, make sure you scrub your hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for at least 15 to 20 seconds.

6.) Grocery Carts

Those cloth covers to create a barrier between your kids and the carts seem to be all the rage. And they may be on to something. A 2007 University of Arizona study found fecal bacteria on almost 2/3 of the shopping carts they tested. To protect yourself, take advantage of those disinfectant wipes most grocery stores offer at the front door now. And try and skip the free samples while you shop -- all that does is transmit any germs directly between your hands and mouth.

7.) Airplane Bathrooms

This is probably the hardest one to protect against. Everything from faucets to doorknobs in an airplane bathroom tends to have some bacteria attached. The best microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D. can recommend is to clean your hand thoroughly with a hand sanitizer once you leave the restroom, and try not to directly touch any surfaces.

8.) Doctors' Offices

It makes sense you would find a lot of germs here, with plenty of people heading to the doctor once they are sick. Try bringing your own books or magazines when you have an appointment, and grab your own tissues. Once you're in the waiting room, leave two chairs between you and the next patient if you can to lower your chances of picking up their germs should they cough or sneeze.