5 Parts Of Daily Life You Had No Idea Are Totally Disgusting
As anyone who's currently spilling Cheeto dust into the crevices of their keyboard knows, modern life is full of traps for all sorts of nasty crud. Still, you'd think the eyeball test could give you a good sense of what's clean and what isn't, like how you'd trust the bathroom at a fancy restaurant more than one at a Burger King that looks like it was last cleaned during the Carter administration. But, at least in the following cases, looks can be horribly, horribly deceiving.
The Back Seat Of Your Rideshare Is Way Dirtier Than A Taxi
Most Uber drivers go to great lengths to make their cars look clean. They're polished to a shine inside and out, there are no piles of dirty laundry in the back seat, and if you're lucky, you might even get a neatly organized selection of mints and candies. But, much like Uber's attempt to present themselves as non-exploitative, those efforts are all surface-level. A rideshare vehicle has an estimated 219 times the bacteria of a taxi. See, taxis are given a deep clean on a regular basis, while an Uber or Lyft car is given a quick once-over to disguise the fact that it was carting around three dogs and two sticky kids half an hour before it picked you up.
There are a couple of big caveats here, as the study was tiny and 219 times the bacteria doesn't mean that you're 219 times more likely to get sick, given that the vast majority of bacteria is harmless. But while catching a ride home from the bar isn't going to give you Turbo Anthrax, it wouldn't hurt to wipe down or wash up afterward, in case one of the day's previous 20-30 passengers was inadvertently cosplaying as Sneezy. Window buttons and seat belts are particular hot spots, which is unfortunate, because most safety experts agree that while getting sick is bad for you, getting hurled through a windshield during a collision is even worse.
So if you want to guard your health, you can either hope that busy and underpaid rideshare drivers suddenly find the time and money to properly sanitize their cars, pay the extra cost for a taxi, or make the ultimate sacrifice and sit in an Uber's front passenger seat, which is likely cleaner (and definitely safer in the event of an accident). If you don't like the idea of that spot probably forcing you into a conversation, then just talk about how the driver's back seat is likely a disgusting filth hole, which should guarantee you an icy silence for your entire ride.
Ball Pits And Bounce Houses Are Basically Impossible To Keep Clean
Ball pits are a staple of any family establishment where parents need somewhere to park their kids for 20 minutes while they pound back a couple of wildly overpriced domestic beers. But while those piles of plastic balls are touched by dozens of gross kids every day, surely even minimum-wage employees occasionally work up the urge to dump some bleach in there or throw all the balls in the dishwasher or something, right? Tell yourself whatever lies you need to justify sending your child to storm bacterial Normandy, but one study found the presence of germs responsible for pink eye, UTIs, blood infections, and heart inflammation, among other fun samples, in those pits of the damned.
Meaning that somehow, if your choices are a ball pit or a strip club of the same name, the latter is likely to be cleaner.
And that study was conducted on ball pits in physical therapy offices, where they're presumably motivated to clean on a regular-ish basis. Grossed-out God only knows how many sneezes and stealth urinations have gone unaddressed at your local McDonald's. This is one of the reasons ball pits are starting to be phased out in favor of foam pits, which might be cleaner, albeit possibly only because we don't yet have the data to confirm that they're also cesspools. We're really starting to rethink our incessant demands to include ball pits in adult physical therapy too.
The same problem happens with bounce houses, where staph infections are called out as a particular worry. However, none of this means that you should forego ball pits and bounce houses and instead secure your kids in bubbles. As long as they're healthy, they should be fine. Some exposure to harmful bacteria is actually good for the development of their immune systems. But rentals should be wiped down beforehand, kids should be cleaned up afterwards, and any cuts and bruises sustained in the juvenile Thunder Dome that the average bounce house turns into should be addressed immediately. It's also advised that you shouldn't let kids eat in bounce houses, although if you ever thought otherwise, you were begging for a hygienic disaster on all sorts of different levels.
A Ten-Minute Swim In The Ocean Increases Your Odds Of Infection
In terrible news for the hundreds of movie characters who metaphorically cleanse themselves in the ocean every year, taking a dip in Aquaman's home might increase your likelihood of an infection, which makes it more akin to visiting Aquaman for a sloppy one-night stand. A small study found that harmful ocean bacteria tends to cling to human skin for hours after even a ten-minute dip, increasing your risk of infection (at least relative to the nerds who didn't dare step into the ocean, for fear of ruining their socks-and-sandals combo).
This is in line with previous research that says saltwater swimming can chafe your skin, and that ocean swimming can cause skin and ear infections, as well as respiratory problems and gastrointestinal illnesses. And while it's tempting to assume that this is yet another way that nature wants to destroy us, the problem has been compounded by the fact that many beaches have poor water quality, thanks to waste and storm water runoff. So if you're torn between visiting two different beaches on the next long weekend, lean toward isolated Bucolic Bay instead of the more convenient Petrochemical Plant Cove.
Again, the takeaway here is not "Oh dear god, avoid the ocean, and in fact avoid the outdoors altogether to be safe," even though that is how we personally live. The takeaway is to not skip the post-swim shower, avoid swimming if you're recently acquired a host of open wounds from another season of bear wrestling or whatever, and keep your taunts of how you've mastered Poseidon's wrath to a minimum. At least until you get home, then you can talk crap about him on the internet.
Airport Security Bins Are An "Emerging Pandemic Threat"
You know those plastic bins that airports use to trick terrorists into revealing all of their guns and bombs? They've been dubbed a "risk zone" for an "emerging pandemic threat" because of how many germs are on them, which sounds like the start of a technically accurate but extremely boring zombie movie. Hundreds of people handle those bins every day, and no one is giving them a feather touch. They're manhandled by travelers looking to get their belts and shoes back on so they can park themselves at the airport bar over the next five hours of delays.
Airports in general feel like a viral outbreak waiting to happen, with the toys at the playgrounds, touchscreen terminals, and glass dividers at passport checkpoints also singled outs as threats. Respiratory infections are a particular concern, and those security bins could become an even worse hot spot, now that security often encourages passengers to dump all of their food into them too.
Airports think to clean all of the obvious germ depositories, which is why despite sometimes dubious sights and smells, bathrooms are among the cleanest places in an airport (it also helps that passengers are on their hygienic guard in them). But no one ever thinks to clean some grubby plastic bin, and passengers are too busy worrying that they're going to get arrested for having the wrong kind of toothpaste to give them much thought either. They're so blandly utilitarian that they escape notice -- the same way we get out of most commitments.
This could be combated by giving the bins frequent cleanings, but until the TSA destroys their entire reputation by voluntarily improving, you should sanitize your hands the next time you go through security. Assuming that your hand sanitizer isn't seized as a threat against the country.
Your Coffee Maker Is A Gross Mess
If you or someone you know loves their "Don't talk to me until I've had my coffee" shirt, you're going to want to pay close attention. A typical coffee maker is full of streptococcus, fecal material, and other bacteria with names that aren't as funny, like E. coli. And while your Mr. Coffee probably isn't going to send you to Mr. Undertaker, there's a large enough concentration of nastiness in one to upset your stomach, especially if your immune system is already compromised.
Though we guess that's sort of convenient, since if you're pounding coffee all day, you'll be in the bathroom anyway.
But there's an easy solution: Clean your damn coffee maker, caffeine addicts. And clean it properly, not by giving it a quick rub with a probably even more disgusting sponge or kitchen rag. Wash it with warm water and soap, or put the parts in the dishwasher. You should also wash your hands before making coffee, and once a month, you should run vinegar through the machine to trigger bacterial Armageddon.
That's the solution to everything we've told you about here, really. Just clean your crap. Clean it all. Be the merciless horror that bacteria warn their children about. Your guts will thank us.
For more, check out 6 Things You Do Every Day That Have Horrifying Consequences:
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