Watch out for Germs at the Mall

We’re all much too busy to be bothered with colds and stomach flu. We all want to be well to celebrate the holidays and we certainly don’t want to be sharing the sneezes and sniffles with our loved ones.

Be Careful Out There

Anywhere people congregate there are a lot of bacteria and viruses and one of the places most packed with people and germs this time of year are shopping malls! Don’t bring home the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving. Let’s check out 8 key areas that are HOT spots in your favorite mall.

1. Restroom sinks

The hottest spot in the restroom isn’t the toilet handle or the doorknob — it’s the sink! Specifically the faucet and handles because people touch those right after using the toilet. Soap dispensers can harbor hot spots as well because they are handled by many dirty hands and the soap may harbor germs. In a recent test one if four did!  The best protection is to lather and wash with soap for at least 20 seconds, then rinse well. Turn off the water and open the door with a paper towel.  Just to be sure you might follow up with a hand sanitizer. We don’t recommend that you get compulsively obsessed about this but it is not a bad idea to use a little extra care during this very busy time of the year.

2. Food court tables

Hate to say it but even if you see the table being wiped down, you may still have a problem depending how the rags are handled and cleaned. Often the ragas themselves spread harmful bacteria such as E. coli if not changed and cleaned properly. This could be a good time to stash a pack of hard-surface disinfecting wipes to wipe the table before sitting down. Make sure they have alcohol or another disinfecting agent.

3. Escalator handrails

You don’t really want to know about this but, hey, you’re reading to learn and testing found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails. Yea.. and respiratory flora on the handrails which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails.  What to do?  Don’t touch the handrails at all. If you have to break out the sanitizer.

4. ATM keypads

Tests on 32 ATM’s found that each key had an average of 1,200 germs including microbes like E. coli and cold and flu viruses. The worst key?  “Enter,” of course because everyone touches it.  Solution use your knucke to push ATM buttons to avoid getting germs on your fingertips which are more likely to get to your nose and mouth.  Yes. Wash hands and or sanitize.

5. Toy stores

You think play areas, carousels, and kid “friendly” zones are germy?  Well toy stores can actually be worse!  Why? Because of the way little ones behave there. Kids lick toys, roll them on their heads, rub them in their faces, and pretty much do everything possible to share their germs. To be safe, wipe down any toy that isn’t sealed in a box or package with soap and water, alcohol, or vinegar before giving it to your child. Of course, sanitize if you’ve been playing with toys in the store!

6. Fitting rooms

No. Not the hooks or the chair but rather what you try on.  When people try on clothing, skin cells and perspiration can accumulate on the inside. Both can feed bacteria. You can even pick up antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, just by trying on clothes. So break out the long underwear. Full coverage as is reasonable. No thongs please.. especially pants, bathing suits, and any other garment that touches genitals or rectum. Make sure you bandage cuts and don’t have any open wounds yourself before trying on clothes. Wash new clothes before wearing.

7. Gadget shops

Yes, even electronics can reach out and bite you. A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that viruses easily transfer between glass surfaces like iPad and smartphone faces and fingertips. Bring your disinfecting wipe with you shopping for cool new toys. Lots of other people have handled them before you.

8. Makeup samples

You know that you might pick p a staph infection right along with the latest lipstick shade? A 2005 study found that between 67 and 100% of makeup-counter testers were contaminated with bacteria, including staph, strep, and E. coli. Someone was sick and/or went to the bathroom then stuck their fingers in the sample. So avoid public makeup samples applied to your lips, eyes, or face. Ask for a single use sample. Try it and throw it away or use a tissue to wipe off the sample and apply to the back of your hand.

We all want to enjoy our holidays and our new treats and gifts so let’s take a few precautions to make sure that we are not gifting gifts that keep on giving and making those we love ill.


This is excerpted from “the 8 germiest places in the mall” by Cari Wira Dineen,
on CNN Health – the full article is here: