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10 of the Dirtiest Things You Touch Every Day

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Warning: If you're even a mild germaphobe, the following information may make you shudder.

Some of the things you touch all the time are absolutely teeming with bacteria. And we're not talking obvious-seeming offenders like toilet seats, either. Believe it or not, those are actually cleaner than the culprits listed below (which appear in no particular order). So grab your favorite sanitizer, microbe-loathers: It's time to dive in and get our hands dirty.

1. SPONGES AND DISHCLOTHS

Scrub-a-dub-dub! The very items you use to clean your hands and dishes are among the filthiest objects you encounter, according to numerous ick-inducing studies [PDF]. Kitchen sponges are the worst, with as many as 10 million bacteria per square inch—about 200,000 times more than your friendly neighborhood toilet seat.

Dishcloths are also filthy: Researchers in one study, which analyzed 82 dishcloths from five major cities in the U.S. and Canada [PDF], found E. coli on 25.6 percent of towels and Salmonella on almost 14 percent of the dishcloths. Another study [PDF], published a year later, had similar findings. "Towels were the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces we tested," lead study author Dr. Jeannie Sneed, a Kansas State University food safety specialist, told Prevention.

2. SINKS, FAUCETS, AND HANDLES

From the basins to the handles, the places you go to get water could do with a thorough scrubbing. The kitchen is worse than the bathroom, amazingly, but both can be covered with all kinds of yecchy bacteria. In fact, some research by the brave souls at NSF International found coliform bacteria—a family that includes both Salmonella and E. coli—in a whopping 45 percent of kitchen sinks. For comparison, only 9 percent of bathroom sink handles had the same bugs present.

Thinking about switching to the shower for all your germ-blasting activities? Think again: A 2009 study found household shower heads are frequently home to pathogens called Mycobacterium avium, which can play a role in causing pulmonary disease. Yikes.

3. TOOTHBRUSHES AND TOOTHBRUSH HOLDERS

Open wide: That brush you've been running over your pearly whites probably has more germs than your dog’s entire mouth. The reason isn't what's in your chompers but rather what's on and around your enamel-polishing apparatus. First, most of us leave our toothbrushes wet when we're done—a lovely place for nasty-sounding stuff like Serratia marcescens, which can cause meningitis, to settle.

Second, our toothbrushes tend to be close to our toilets—and if you flush with the toilet lid up, everything within a 5- to 6-foot radius is getting sprayed with aerosolized fecal matter. So ... shut that lid.

4. REFRIGERATOR HANDLES

Going for a snack? Consider putting on gloves first: The handle to your home refrigerator door could be playing host to a variety of foul germs, not to mention regular yeast and mold. On the plus side, remembering said info could help curb your appetite the next time you're trying to drop a few pounds.

5. CUTTING BOARDS

Cutting boards are among the worst offenders when it comes to harboring dangerous bacteria. Depending on which expert you ask, kitchen chopping surfaces can have anywhere from 50 to 200 times as much bacteria—everything from E. coli to Salmonella, which can cause severe stomach illness—as an average commode.

6. REMOTE CONTROLS

Sorry, channel surfers, but your clicker's covered with germs—Coliform bacteria, mold, and potentially even the infection-causing Staphylococcus aureus, which NSF International found on 14 percent of household remotes.

And if you think the one in your house is bad, you should see what scientists have detected on hotel room remotes: an average of 67.6 colony-forming units of bacteria per cubic centimeter. For perspective, that's more than 13 times the maximum acceptable level recommended for hospitals. So maybe put on some gloves before grabbing the remote.

7. PHONES

Incoming message: Your smartphone is caked with countless types of bacteria—including ones whose names alone might make you feel phantom symptoms as often as you feel phantom phone vibrations (among them is our old pal Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections, pneumonia, and food poisoning, among other awful conditions). If some studies are to be believed, that petri dish in your pocket packs 10 times as many germs as a public bathroom's toilet.

8. PURSES

Quick, ladies: When's the last time you cleaned your purse? The answer is probably "not recently enough." A 2012 swab test found beaucoup bacteria in handbags, with germs lurking everywhere from the handles to the items inside (especially those related to makeup).

9. GROCERY CARTS

You know those wipes most groceries have sitting out by the carts? Start using them: Researchers say almost all supermarket carts have E. coli because of the frequent food contamination.

Reusable grocery bags aren't much better: A 2010 analysis found frequent traces of E. coli on totes, too, and went as far as to call them "a serious threat to public health"—particularly for young children.

The solution? Wash, wash, wash—thoroughly and after every single trip to the store. Also, do whatever you can to avoid mixing raw foods with other items, since that's where much of the trouble arises.

10. KEYBOARDS

Staph, Coliform, yeast, and mold are among the tasty treats likely to be hiding in the crannies of your favorite QWERTY keyboard. And on that note, if you'll excuse us, we need to go wash our hands a few dozen times.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. FLOPPY DISKS; $22.79

Floppy disks are not obsolete—at least in your living room area.

Buy on Amazon.

2. MARIO; $20

Mario Question Mark Block Coaster Set
Etsy

Unfortunately, no coins will be coming out of these coasters, but they will keep your table dry.

Buy on Etsy.

3. GAME OF THRONES; $12.99

Game of Thrones coasters
HBO Shop

Avoid a royal mess with house sigils of houses Targaryen, Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister.

Buy at the HBO Shop.

4. PACMAN; $20.95

Use these on a black table to recreate the retro video game.

Buy on Epic Giftables.

5. AGATE; $35

Rock on: These fancy agate coasters will look solid resting under your glass.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ELEMENTS; $56.99

These glowing coasters are perfect for chemists, Breaking Bad fans, and anyone who forgot to pay their electric bill.

Buy on Amazon.

7. BUILDING BLOCKS; $19.99

Build your own coaster with this LEGO-esque design.

Buy on Amazon.

8. STAR TREK; $16.63

Star Trek ship coasters
Amazon

This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

Buy on Amazon.

9. DR. WHO; $22.99

Just make sure you don’t accidentally send your glass into a different time period when you set it down.

Buy on Amazon.

10. RILAKKUMA; $1.95

Rilakkuma coaster
Bonanza

Cover your counter space with the cute face of Rilakkuma.

Buy on Bonanza.

11. HARRY POTTER; $50

Set of wood burned coasters featuring the crest of each Harry Potter house
Etsy

All the houses are present in this set of wood coasters.

Buy on Etsy.

12. FALLOUT; $25

fallout coasters
Etsy

Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean all manners go out the door: Never forget to use a coaster!

Buy on Etsy.

13. BRAIN; $19.99

This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

Buy on Amazon.

14. THE LAST AIRBENDER; FROM $13

Aang and his entourage face off on these wooden coasters.

Buy on Etsy.

15. BUFFY AND CO; $20

Getting totally wigged by the idea of a stained table? All your favorite characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer can give you an assist.

Buy on Etsy.

16. STUDIO GHIBLI; $25

Studio Ghibli Stone Tile Coasters
Etsy

These coasters feature scenes from the classics My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.

Buy on Etsy.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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