The ideal: Wash your hands with soap and water every time you touch a germy surface. But while germs are everywhere―grocery carts, ATMs, doorknobs―sinks aren’t. And as soon as you touch your face, you can transfer germs into your eyes, nose, or mouth and can consequently contract a cold, the flu, or a gastrointestinal illness, says Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, in Washington, D.C.
The next best thing: Use hand sanitizer or wipes.
- Carry with you a small bottle of gel that has at least 60 percent alcohol, says Benjamin. “It’s not as thorough as a good washing under your nails and between your fingers with soap, but it is effective,” he says.
- All varieties of wipes (baby, regular, “sanitizing”) are good for larger jobs, but baby wipes are usually alcohol-free.