When is washing your hands not the best way to prevent germs from spreading? When the soap dispenser is filled with bacteria.
Although we generally think of soap as being clean, many public soap dispensers, from bathrooms to community gyms, contain soap contaminated with bacteria known to cause illness. A recent study found that every soap dispenser at an Ohio elementary school contained contaminated soap, while another nationwide study discovered that one in four soap dispensers in public bathrooms contains infected soap.
Knowing what kind of soap dispenser to look for can reduce your chances of washing your hands with bacteria-infected soap. Dispensers where the soap is poured directly into a container are more likely to contain bacteria than those with replaceable bags or cartridges. Photo By Matt Beighton/Courtesy Flickr.
Don’t take this news as an excuse to skip on hand washing. This basic step of good hygiene is still one of the easiest and most important ways to stop the spread of disease-causing microbes. If the notion of bacteria-laden soap scares you though, take a few precautionary measures, starting with checking out the soap dispenser. Is the dispenser filled with soap that comes in replaceable bags or cartridges? Or is the soap dispenser the kind that is continually refilled with pourable liquid soap—and maybe isn’t cleaned on a regular basis? If you find yourself running into the latter often, consider carrying your own liquid hand soap or a natural hand sanitizer such as the Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer from Burt’s Bees.