Have you ever thought about what kind of bacteria could be lurking on the things you touch every day? And whether that bacteria could be hazardous to your health?
We wanted to find out.
Boys will be boys -- And in the Davis household the boys play like boys, fight like boys, and eat like boys. Tonight's dinner is mostly leftovers. Dad, John, and Mom, Laurie, both have full time jobs and have just picked up all three teens from wrestling practice. They are your typical busy family.
In Elkhart, at Exact-Tech, employees in the machine shop are making parts for the bus, medical and military industries. It is an example of where much of Michiana works. The chamber of commerce says about 15 percent of people in this area go to work in manufacturing...the rest work in more of an office environment. Both can be found at Exact-Tech
The Davis home and Exact-Tech: two very different environments and two very different cleaning habits.
"I think we are pretty conscientious about that," said John Davis.
"How often do we sanitize? Never," laughed Hamilton.
So we wanted to know: whether you're at home or at work, how do those cleaning practices affect the things you touch every day?
At Exact-Tech, Owner Ed Kramer spends about 10 hours a day at his computer. His guys spend the same amount of time at the machines in the plant. We swabbed both for bacteria.
Ed's wife, co-owner Gina, spends a good chunk of time on the phone and so does Ed.
"10 hours a day. I get a dead battery twice a day," said Hamilton. And that includes the bathroom.
We swabbed both phones and the door knob. And just about every business has a coffee maker. At Hamilton's business, nine different people use the coffee maker multiple times a day. We swabbed it for bacteria too.
Back at the Davis household: We swabbed the kitchen soap dispenser, a cell phone and keys. We swabbed the boys' laptop and their video game controllers.
And where else would three teen boys spend time other than in front of the TV playing video games? The bathroom.
"This is our main bath," said Davis before we started swabbing, "so any guests in our home would use this bathroom as well as my three boys. So this is their main bath. They shower here and brush their teeth."
We took all the samples we collected from the Davis house and Exact-Tech and samples we got from two other homes to Keith Klemm at Sherry Laboratories in Warsaw.
How did they do when put under the microscope? Klemm says when it comes to bacteria count anything over 200 needs to be cleaned more often.
Gina's Phone 64
Ed's Cell Phone 280
Ed's Keyboard 220
Coffee Pot 220
But perhaps even more shocking than the bacteria counts. The coffee pot tested positive for coliform, which is often associated with causing gastro-intestinal problems. Even a reading of one means it's unsafe to ingest, the coffee pot came in at a 6.
Ed plans to throw that coffee pot away.
At the Davis home:
Soap Dispenser 26
Cell Phone 100
Game Controller 220
Family Bathroom 220
The family was not thrilled to find out their game controller and bathroom had the same amount of bacteria. But they were most shocked to learn how much bacteria was on their laptop. When asked what their plans were for the laptop:
"Bury it in the backyard," said Laurie Davis.
For those of you at home wondering now about your own keyboards and coffee pots, here are some numbers that will make you think"
We tested 6 keyboards and remotes -- the average bacteria count on those: 478
We tested 5 phones -- the average bacteria count: 151.
We tested 2 fridge and freezer handles: One tested at 450. The other at 620.
While those numbers are high, Klemm says they are not dangerous unless someone in your home is an infant, elderly or has a compromised immune system.
Klemm says the best thing you can do is clean your items with soap and water and with a disinfectant wipe.