The Germiest Thing You're Touching When You Go Shopping

From credit card machines, displays, counters, pens, door knobs and handles, we touch more things when we go shopping than we could ever count. Plus, research shows we touch our own faces an average of 16 times an hour, according to Healthline. And now, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are painfully aware of just what we touch and how often. That's because it was thought that the coronavirus spread when an infected person touched a surface and that same germy spot was then touched by another person, who went on to rub their eyes, nose, or mouth. The CDC has since clarified this position to say that while the coronavirus can spread in this manner, the main culprit is person-to-person contact.

Even so, the areas we come into constant physical contact with (high touch points) have come under considerable scrutiny. Not because they are new places where the coronavirus might hide, but because they've carried the potential for spreading disease all along, and we just never paid attention to them — until now.

Credit card machines host a bevy of germs

In a study published by BMC Infectious Diseases, a group of researchers reported that samples taken from high touch points at airports showed one of the germiest spots to be the buttons of a payment terminal or credit card machine. As Mobile Transaction put it, it's easy to understand how the credit card machine can be one of the germiest spots at your favorite store. Consider: Customers enter their PINs into the keypad, and they may even hold the entire machine in their hands; while employees also touch the keypad and move the entire machine around the payment area. 

Do we know if the groups like the Food Industry Association have added this high-touch point to its recommended list of places shops and restaurants need to clean? Yes we do. Do we know for certain that retail outlets and restaurants are doing what the doctor ordered? No, we don't. And it's for this reason that outlets like  Eat This, Not That! recommend that you use contactless payment to settle your bills before leaving a store. If that's not an option, hold a tissue in your hand, covering your finger, when you touch a credit card machine. More importantly, wash your hands properly and often.