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Six popular tricks that, contrary to popular belief, do not save you from germs

Every sane person seeks to protect himself from viruses and bacteria. Today in the world there are many techniques that can protect us from them, but we must not forget about the myriad of existing myths in this regard. Life hacker debunks 6 tricks that don't actually protect against germs.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Follow the 5 second rule

Legend has it that if food falls to the floor and you pick it up earlier than 5 seconds later, you can safely eat it. It is believed that microorganisms are not so nimble - they will not have time to crawl onto your sandwich or apple in such a short time.

Alas, in fact, a second is enough for this - the results of research say so. And the longer the object comes into contact with microbes, the more they will gather on its surface. So the food that has fallen on the floor needs to be washed. And if this cannot be done, throw it away.

2. Touch the door handle through the sleeve

The very idea - to create a barrier between your skin and a potentially contaminated surface - is very correct. But using your own clothes for this is not the best option. The dirt, bacteria, and viruses that were on the doorknob end up on your sleeve, and then calmly contact your wrists, palms, face, hair, phone, bag, and more.

On the subject: Microbes and bacteria: what is better not to touch in hotel rooms

So instead of the sleeves, it’s better to use something that you can throw right away, such as a napkin. But it is necessarily folded several times - otherwise the dirt (and with it the microorganisms) will simply soak into the paper and end up on the skin. And yes, hands: after you touch something in a public place, it’s better to wash them anyway.

3. Press the elevator button with your elbow or knuckles

Here is almost the same story as in the previous paragraph. It only seems that we are not touching anything this way, and microbes from buttons, handles and doors cannot harm us. But, for example, it is easy to touch the strap of a bag or a pocket of clothes with our elbows, and we also put them on the table and then touch it with our hands.

With knuckles, dirt and microorganisms easily fall into the palms and face - when a person clenches his hands into fists, twists his fingers, props his chin, rubs one hand on the other, and so on.

In a word, a recommendation with a napkin would be appropriate here. Well, or you can safely press the buttons with your fingers, and when you come home or to work, wash your hands immediately.

4. Hold your breath when someone sneezes or coughs nearby.

From infection (if someone sneezing is sick with something) this will not save you. Firstly, you just won’t have time to hold your breath fast enough - the smallest drops of saliva and sputum will still get into your airways (yes, it sounds very nasty, but alas, it is).

Second, the nose is not the only gateway through which infection enters your body: germs can enter your eyes or lips. You can slightly reduce the risk of infection by wearing a mask and keeping a distance of at least 1,5–2 meters in relation to others.

5. Wipe the surface with an antibacterial wipe

This only works if you use a new cloth for each surface. And if you wipe the same table, door handles, switches and buttons, then simply transfer microorganisms from one object to another. After all, the longer you use a napkin, the less antibacterial agents remain on it - and microbes have more chances to survive.

On the subject: Super microbes and bacteria with superpowers: the scariest discoveries of 2019

6. Constantly smear hands with an antiseptic

The sanitizer seems to be a universal and 100 percent remedy. He rubbed his hands, sprayed everything that was possible - and you sit in the house. But antiseptics work only when they are used correctly.

They are not a substitute for water, soap, or cleaning products. And on dirty surfaces, the effectiveness of antiseptics is much lower than on clean ones. At the same time, a person is sure that he is protected, and calmly touches his eyes, mouth and nose with his hands, kindly helping the surviving microbes to penetrate into his body.

So if you have the opportunity to pre-wipe the skin with a damp cloth, it is better to do so - and only then apply the sanitizer. By the way, it is also not worth getting carried away with antiseptics: their too frequent use leads to the emergence of resistance in microorganisms (the body's resistance to the effects of various factors).

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