It can be easy to ignore just how dirty public spaces are. We like to imagine that when we go out to eat, the people handling our food washed their hands. We want to believe that airlines actually clean out the waste tanks on a regular basis. But every once in a while, one can't help but wonder: just how often are public spaces cleaned? Are public bathrooms cleaned? Are public trains and buses cleaned?
Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is often no. Public spaces can go days, weeks, months, or even years, without ever being properly cleaned. What are some of the dirtiest public spaces? How about the cleanest? How many germs are you being exposed to be simply existing in the world? The answers to these questions may surprise you - and totally gross you out.
Water Parks Are Vats Of Disease
Water parks might seem like a great place to cool off on a hot day, but they're also vats of disease. First off, it's a kid-heavy environment, which means that at some point, somebody will pee in the water - or worse.
Secondly, weirder things have appeared in the water. For example, a section of the The National Whitewater Center was shut down in the summer of 2016 after brain eating amoeba were found in the water. Tragically, they weren't discovered before 18-year-old Lauren Seitz died of an amoeba infection.
While the amoeba are probably the worst thing to appear in a water park, Reddit user thebloodofthematador, a water park employee, details items they've fished out of hte drain:
We've pulled out innumerable weaves and fake nails. Lots of little dead animals - voles, mice, birds, the like. Band-aids, condoms, dirty swim diapers, tampons, glass, trash of all sorts, including food trash. Wallets. Phones. Empty sunscreen tubes. Just, everything. People are disgusting.
In short, swimming in a water park is riskier than swimming in your home toilet.
NYC Sidewalks Are Sometimes Made Up Of Literal TrashPhoto: Wikimedia Commons
NYC sidewalks can be some of the most aggressively filthy spots on the planet. City-dwellers leave their bags of household garbage on the sidewalk itself, and it can sit there for hours before it gets picked up. Dog feces, vomit, and empty chip bags festoon the streets. Street sweepers do come by a few times a week, which isn't nearly enough to make up for the mess made by 8 million residents. If you're going to walk down an NYC street, be sure to wear thick-soled shoes.
Dirty Doctor's Offices Can Make You Sicker
One of the major reasons that people go to the doctor's office is because they're sick. This means that everything they touch, from door handles to office pens, has the potential to harbor germs. Not only that, but doctors move quickly from one sick patient to another, often carrying viruses and bacteria with them. While most doctors are conscientious about washing their hands, not all of them are going to, say, wipe down their stethoscope every time they use it. Such overlooked instruments can be even dirtier than the doctor's own hands. This can lead to the spread of minor illnesses like colds, but it can also spread more serious diseases.
Hotel Rooms Are Low Key Disgusting
No matter how much money you throw down on a swanky hotel room, there's still a big chance that you'll encounter viruses and bacteria. Unfortunately, even the nicest hotels have some seriously awful hygiene practices.
In many hotels, not only are comforters not changed, but they're only washed twice per year. Sure, the sheets are changed between customers, but that comforter might be carrying up to six months worth of unknown nastiness. Coffee pots and cups might never be washed thoroughly, rinsed out with tap water that, depending on the location of the hotel, might not be particularly clean either.
This doesn't mean that you have to cancel your hotel plans - but you might think about getting your coffee elsewhere.