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6 of the Germiest Places in Restaurants & How to Protect Yourself

Alison Ziemianski
July 31, 2018




Next time you find yourself getting settled at a restaurant you may want think about these obvious but often overlooked germ hotspots. 


Sure, you may wash or sanitize your hands before you eat but restaurants are full of objects that are cleaned inadequately or irregularly leading to the buildup and spread of potentially dangerous germs.  It all starts as you slide into your seat …



Dirty hands, purses, bags and even feet regularly encounter the seats. Regardless of the fabric or material, seats and chairs in restaurants are at most brushed off and seldom washed.  



Tables are usually cleared and wiped quickly between service with a rag that is often repeatedly used throughout the day. Bearing that thought in mind, it’s a good idea to keep clean cutlery from direct contact with the table. Tables should be cleaned using a clean cloth and cleaning solution and left to dry. Cross contamination is reduced if the table surface is air dried instead of towel dried. After the table is cleaned and dried, it should be sanitized following the manufacturer’s instructions.



Ready to order? Distributed and collected table by table, day by day, menus pass through the hands of countless customers and staff becoming a germ hotspot.  Menus are not routinely cleaned and present a high contamination risk. One recent study found there was a “measurable transfer of bacteria present on menus to consumer’s hands, and bacteria survived on menus at least 2-days.”  


Lemon wedges

Lemon wedge in your drink, you may want to think again. These refreshing little garnishes likely weren’t washed first, and they’ve been sitting all day (or sometimes longer) in the open tray on the bar before the bartender touches them with his bare hands. If you do decide to squeeze the lemon into your water or soda, don’t toss it into your drink afterward.


Condiment Bottles & Salt & Pepper Shakers

Want some ketchup with your fries? Condiment bottles, as well as salt and pepper shakers, are used by customer after customer and like menus receive infrequent and often inadequate cleaning.


Salad Bar Tongs

Opting for the all you can eat buffet? Handled by everyone who approaches the buffet salad tongs and other serving utensils at buffets are rarely replaced during service.

It’s important to remember that even when hands appear to be clean, they may still carry germs which are spread to the objects we touch. Since hands spread 80% of communicable diseases, proper hand hygiene can go a long way in keeping you healthy.



Not convinced yet, 1 in 5 people don’t wash their hands after using the washroom and of that only 30% use soap. Germs from unwashed hands are left on objects we touch for others to pick up. Knowing this it’s easy to see how the spread of germs occurs in public places like restaurants. To help keep yourself safe once you have ordered your food be sure to go wash or sanitize your hands. Washing your hands not only helps prevent you from getting sick, it reduces the risk of infecting others.

Learn About the Proper Hand Washing Technique


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