Germs are one of those things that you kind of have to ignore sometimes in order to live a normal life. It would be seriously debilitating to think about how much dirt is on literally everything we touch every time we touch it (just ask Howie Mandel). That being said, let’s take some time to think about it right now, because it’s seriously gross and we should all probably clear our calendars for the next week to sanitize everything we own.
Marilyn Denis and butler extraordinaire, Charles MacPherson, recently did the thing that we all dread doing more than anything else. They measured the number of germs on various household items. Well, not the ‘number of germs’ technically. They calculated the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) value on various items using a Hygiena UltraSnap test. Basically, this thing measures the level of bacteria on an object by testing a swab sample. Anything that reads over 300 is entering the danger zone, where it looks like a lot of us are living. Here are some things they tested that will make you want to bathe in hand sanitizer.
Harmless, right? Wrong. It turns out the pen really is mightier than the sword, but it’s because it’s harboring deadly bacteria that can kill far more easily than a blade. The pen they tested came in at a whopping 938 ATP. That’s three times more than the threshold.
MacPherson has an interesting suggestion though: get yourself a copper pen. Copper is bactericidal with anti-microbial properties. Which means that it’s a germ-killer. It actually kills 99.9 percent of germs it comes in contact with. So basically, copperplate everything in your home.
A Cellphone case
If you saw the numbers on the pen and thought, ‘guess I’ll just be using my notes app for more stuff,’ think again. Your phone isn’t any cleaner than your pen. Who are you kidding? You don’t bring your pen into the bathroom with you (and don’t even pretend you don’t text on the toilet). The phone they tested on the show only clocked in at 438 ATP, but stats show that’s probably a little too low to be average. In fact, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Disease (yeah, that’s a real place) found that one in six phones have fecal matter on them. So we’re thinking that phone was an anomaly and ours is definitely dirtier than that.
We’re sorry, but we have to. The toothbrush on the show only came in at 103 ATP (yay!), but it looked fairly new and considering this is something you scrub all around your mouth, wouldn’t you rather that number be zero? Here’s the scariest part: if your toothbrush is within two feet of your toilet, every flush adds more toilet bacteria to it. That spray will get you every time. So location is key in toothbrush cleanliness. You should also wash the cup you keep it in weekly and make sure the bristles have a chance to dry between uses.
A water bottle
They didn’t actually get around to measuring the ATP of the water bottle, but we were assured it was a doozy. MacPherson also says that you’re supposed to clean and air-dry your water bottle every day. Yeah, that’s right. Every. Single. Day. Otherwise the bacteria will just build up. Uh oh.
The remote control
Think about how many people touch that remote and what’s on their hands when they do it. Now think about how often you clean it (if ever). The remote control they tested came out to 1755 ATP. Some quick back-of-the-napkin math reveals that’s almost SIX TIMES the threshold. Is nothing sacred?
Why isn’t there a miracle product to save me from this death and disease?
Good news, folks. There actually is a miracle product (and it won’t even break the bank). If all these germs are creeping you out, you could invest in a UV wand. It’s chemical-free (duh) and uses a powerful ultraviolet light to kill germs, bacteria and odor.
And for the rest of us who might start cleaning things more often, but also might just go back to our old habits like we never learned this information, there’s always rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer and water-vinegar solution. Happy cleaning!