You wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before meals, apply hand sanitizer often, and make sure your work surfaces are clean and tidy. You sneeze into the crook of your elbow and avoid touching hands with anyone you know is sick.
You take all necessary precautions to avoid germs – but not all germs are obvious to spot and prevent. Sometimes, germs can spread and manifest in unexpected, completely common ways. These unhealthy but normal habits can spread germs to even the cleanest, most dirt-conscious individuals.
1. Your Nails
Biting your nails is more than just an unsightly, unpleasant habit. Our fingers harbor plenty of germs and dirt in the skin around and underneath our nails. When you bite your nails, these germs transfer into your mouth and into our internal organs. Biting your nails also puts you at a risk for infection if you have any open wounds in your mouth or gums.
2. Chewing on Pens
You never know where a random pen has been, even if you bought it. Your hands could have touched the pen and spread germs to its surface. If it’s someone else’s pen, the uncertainty (and the possibility of unpleasant germs) doubles. Chewing on a pen transfers these germs from the pen’s surface to your mouth, gums, and internal organs.
3. Communal Bar of Soap
When multiple people use the same bar of soap to wash themselves, the soap itself becomes a breeding ground for germs. When you pick up a communal bar of soap, you are adding to the germ pile and may be contracting more germs than you are trying to wash away. Use liquid soap to avoid these soap germs.
4. Phoning on the Toilet
While it’s common to look at your phone while using the toilet to help pass the time, this is a habit that you’re better off breaking. Using the toilet releases germs and fecal matter into the air. These germs can attach themselves to your phone screen, which can then transfer to your hands, face, and mouth.
5. Sharing Hand Towels
If your family shares a hand towel in the bathroom, this towel may be a breeding ground for germs. The fabric material of this towels can trap germs when one family member uses it and spread those germs to the next person. Always have multiple towels designated for each family member to avoid the spread of these germs.
6. Not Wiping Down Gym Equipment
When you hit the treadmill or exercise bike at your local gym, you are going to sweat a lot. This sweat will spread all over the machine – and your sweat contains lots of germs and bacteria that can affect the next person who uses the machine. Always wipe down your gym equipment before and after working out to prevent the spread of germs.
7. Using Your Teeth as Scissors
We’ve all done it – you have a difficult package you need to open and no pair of scissors in sight. Using your teeth as a makeshift pair of scissors is a common practice that many people use in a pinch, but it also contributes to the spread of germs and damages your teeth.
By using your teeth as a pair of scissors, you spread germs from your mouth to the object’s surface. This can transfer to the object inside the package or to the next person who touches the package. If you’re opening food, the people who eat that food can ingest your germs. It’s best to invest in a handy pair of scissors, rather than rely on your teeth.