According to the Mayo Clinic, “germs are everywhere.” Flu season or not, germs are around, and they stick around on surfaces and in places that you might not expect. Here are 5 items that you probably touch everyday that could be putting you and your family at risk.

Cell phone

While a cell phone may not be unexpected, it continues to be a prime source of bacteria that we come in contact with everyday. To put it simply, your phone is dirtier than a toilet seat. Germs thrive in warm environments and due to the heat that cellphones generate, paired with germs from your face and hands, it makes for an ideal place for germs to multiply. And just think, we carry it around all day with us, sometimes not thinking twice about the health risk. “One study found that people swipe, tap, type, and click over 2,600 times a day on average. That adds up to over 75 separate phone sessions for the average user.” That translates into 75 separate times that you’re exposed to a large dose of potentially harmful bacteria.


Bags such as a purse, briefcase, or backpack are often overlooked sources of bacteria that you come into contact with everyday. Bags are rested on public floors when we need a hands-free moment; even bathroom and restaurant floors. Although we don’t envision touching the bottom of our bag, we get home, throw it on the kitchen counter or sling it on the bed, and there begins the problem of spreading germs throughout our home and to our family. Sometimes it’s a daily habit that puts our families at risk of getting sick, and it can start with something as simple as our bag.


For those that use a computer for work or find themselves perusing the internet often at home, those keys can build up quite a bit of bacteria. Computer keyboards harbor up to 3,295 germs per square inch. Find yourself typing away and then grabbing a snack with your hands (inevitably going straight to your mouth)? That’s an easy way for germs to get right in your system. “In a recent study by a British consumer group, researchers swabbed keyboards for germs and found a host of potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph. 4 of 33 sampled keyboards had enough germs to be considered health hazards. One had levels of germs five times higher than that found on a toilet seat.”

Salt and Pepper Shaker

Researchers from a 2008 study at the University of Virginia “asked 30 adults who were beginning to show signs of a cold, to name 10 places they’d touched in their homes over the previous 18 hours. The researchers then tested those areas for cold viruses. The tests found viruses on 41% of the surfaces tested, and every one of the salt and pepper shakers tested were positive for cold viruses.” And this isn’t at a restaurant; it’s right at your dinner table. The biggest risk is that you’re in contact with harmful germs while you are eating.


Even though we’re moving toward cash-free payment, U.S. bills aren’t extinct yet. “Physical bills change hands about 55 times a year on average before they are retired.” Fecal bacteria, mold, and yeast are commonly found on these bills. According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, 94% of $1 bills harbor bacteria. Did you know that U.S. bank notes are at more risk of carrying bacteria than others? “Bills issued by the U.S. Treasury are made of 75% cotton and 25% linen, and seem to be more attractive to bacteria than the currency of some other countries like Australia and Canada, that use polymers instead.”

Staying healthy this season, and beyond, starts with you. No matter what bacteria you come in contact with, your biggest defenses against these germs are:

  1. Wash your hands regularly and correctly, and dry them thoroughly.
  2. Abstain from touching your face, nose, or mouth.
  3. Wipe down surfaces with a germ-fighting wipe or spray.

At Orbis Biosciences, we’re proud of how our mission connects to keeping people healthy. Our mission is to revolutionize the delivery, efficacy, and safety of pharmaceutical products through unprecedented control of particle size, composition and release kinetics. We leverage world class talent and the most useful controlled-release technology available today to achieve that goal.