The 7 germiest places in schools

What’s the germiest place in your school? Your mind might immediately jump to the bathroom – specifically the toilet – but that’s not even in the top five. (In fact, a cellphone carries 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Crazy, right?)

With cold and flu season in full swing, it’s important to keep high-touch areas clean to prevent the spread of germs and illness. So what areas of the school should you be paying the most attention to?

Here’s where microbiologists found the most germs in two Michigan elementary schools as part of a study for NSF International:

  1. Water fountain spigot
  2. Plastic reusable cafeteria tray
  3. Faucet
  4. Cafeteria plate
  5. Classroom keyboard
  6. Toilet seat
  7. Students’ hands

That’s right – the study found more germs on average on a water fountain spigot and keyboard than on a toilet seat. (The study only tested surfaces that the elementary school kids regularly come in contact with at school, which is why you don’t see cellphones on the list.)

But knowledge is power. Now that we’ve identified the germ magnets, we can focus on how to keep them clean and prevent the spread of germs.

Wash your hands

What do most of the things on that germ-filled list have in common? They’re high-touch areas (or they’re the things that do the touching, in No. 7’s case).

One way to help keep those high-touch areas clean is to encourage students, teachers and staff to keep their hands clean. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and running water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

Teachers and administrators can set an example for students by regularly washing their hands, and handwashing moments could be incorporated into the day during breaks or class changes.

Have a plan

Make sure your support staff has a plan and guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing these high-touch, germy areas, and use on-site supervisors to make sure the job is being done well on a consistent basis.

Consider creating a special cleaning checklist for cold and flu season to help prevent the spread of illness during winter.

Want to learn more about how SSC keeps even the germiest places in schools clean? Get in touch with us. And don’t forget to wipe down your keyboard.


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