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Bicycling: This Piece of Gym Equipment Has 362 Times More Bacteria Than a Toilet Seat.

But the worst offender? Free weights. Next time you go to pick up your favorite 15-pounders for bicep curls, keep in mind that researchers discovered that these babies had 362 times (!!!) more bacteria than a toilet seat. Excuse us while we go invest in some hand sanitizer …” ICK ICK ICK.

04/08/16 • 07:53 PM • HealthPhysical Fitness • (3) Comments


What I found confusing about the article is that they compare the bacteria load of different pieces equipment not with the *same* other thing, but different ones: cafeteria tray, water faucet, toilet seat. This way it’s impossible to say whether the free weights have the most bacteria or whether they just picked the least-gross other thing for comparison. I’m sure I read somewhere that toilet seats have much less bacteria than doorknobs, for example.
Why don’t they just tell the reader the amount of bacteria per square inch or whatever?

This article states that the faucet handle can have 21 times the amount of bacteria a toilet seat has: 9 Everyday Items Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat. (It’s Reader’s Digest, so take the facts with a grain of salt.)

Now let’s do some calculations: If the treadmill has 79 times more (or 80 times as many) bacteria than a water faucet and the water faucet has 21 times the amount a toilet seat has, the treadmill has 80*21=1680 times the amount a toilet seat has, which is a lot worse than the free weights which only carry 362 times the amount of bacteria of a toilet seat. There, now you’re feeling much better, aren’t you?

This actually sounds more logical to me, at least if free weights have handles that are bare, impenetrable metal, while treadmills have foam handles in which moisture and therefore bacteria can live much longer.

Posted by Andrea on 04/09/16 at 10:21 AM

Here’s a handy list of the top 30 spots for bacteria with the actual amount of bacteria per square inch from WebMD. They state that a toilet seat has 295 bacteria per square inch, while a bathroom faucet handle has 6,267, which is in fact about 21 times as many.

Apart from the toilet bowl and the kitchen drain (which you don’t touch without washing your hands afterwards, I hope) the grossest thing to touch in your home is the kitchen sponge/cloth, which has 456 times as many bacteria as a toilet seat.

(Okay, I’m done now.)

Posted by Andrea on 04/09/16 at 10:30 AM

You know, I’ve avoided most of Bicycling’s ‘health’ articles because there seemed to be agendas behind. Perhaps this is ‘anti-free-weight’ article is a nefarious plot by exercise machine manufacturers.

We keep a bottle of white vinegar by the kitchen sink. The sponge gets doused at least once an evening.

You gave me a great idea for that dystopian novel I keep trying to write. Ragged survivors in a partially demolished apartment building, growing toilet seat mushrooms ...

Posted by Garret P Vreeland on 04/09/16 at 03:36 PM


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