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We envy the parents who stick their heads in the (parasitic worm-infested) sand about germs, blithely bopping along without a Purell in every pocket. Surely they take comfort in the notion that illness now means immunity later. But anyone who’s survived back-to-back bouts of strep, pink eye and gastroenteritis can tell you it’s time to get tough. Here are the six grossest venues your kids are likeliest to catch their next bug. Bring on the Wet Ones. 

RELATED: The Germiest Place on the Entire Beach

germs waiting room

The Pediatrician’s Waiting Room

Have you ever noticed that when you bring your hacking, feverish kids to the doctor, they paw and mouth every truck and dollhouse in sight? Unless your doctor has a system wherein sick patients are separated from well ones and placed in different waiting and exam rooms (two MDs we checked out did not), chances are you’re all getting exposed to something.

germs balls

Ball Pits

Ball pits are yet another environment researchers have deemed dirtier than a toilet seat. So the next time you’re watching your kids jump face first into one, right behind a toddler with a leaky diaper, ask yourself how you would go about disinfecting a place like that. The answer is, rarely and with difficulty.   

germs sink

Your Sink

Guys, the kitchen sink has 1,000 times more illness-causing microbes (hi, salmonella) than a toilet bowl. And don’t even get us started on festering dish sponges. Similarly, powder room hand towels (The moisture! The sharing!) are a breeding ground for bacteria. Consider keeping a basket of multiple towels in your bathroom and encourage everyone to toss them into a nearby hamper after a single use. 

RELATED: How to Extend the Life of Your Kitchen Sponges

germs classroom


The winner and still champion of the germiest-place-in-the-whole-school award? The classroom—specifically the water fountain spigot. Brita, anyone? 

germs carseat

Car seats

If we had a dollar for every time we read the phrase “dirtier than a toilet” while researching this topic…we’d use the money to buy an antibacterial handvac and keep it in our car. Indeed, researchers at the University of Birmingham found an average of 100 dangerous bacteria per square centimeter of car seat (more than double what they found on toilet seats).

germs floor

Your Floor

Pesticides, coliform (translation: fecal bacteria), gasoline—these are but a few of the toxins typically found on the bottom of our shoes. Now envision your baby crawling on the floor—and putting her hand in her mouth up to 80 times an hour. A chic shoe basket by the door never seemed like such a good idea. Just make sure everyone washes their hands after removing their shoes—and dries them with a fresh towel. 

RELATED: 8 Things to Do When Your Baby Is Sick

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