LOS ANGELES - It's time to forget the five-second rule -- not just because it's been debunked, but because the kitchen floor is the least of your worries when it comes germ contamination.
Microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona has analyzed bacteria colonies on household surfaces and his study shows that the refrigerator door handle and the kitchen counter are actually dirtier than the floor.
And public restrooms? Obviously they're not a place for a meal, but we've got it all wrong there, too. The toilet seat actually has less bacteria than your kitchen floor. So forget hovering, or fashioning a protective barrier out of toilet paper. You should really be flushing the handle with your foot or turning the sink faucet on with your elbow.
Toilet seats and the kitchen floor get all our attention when we're cleaning because we assume they're disgusting. We don't consider the handles, keyboards, and light switches we touch everyday -- so that's where bacteria goes unchecked.
The good news is, we've been grabbing these things all along -- and for the most part, our immune systems have kept us safe. Well, that and always washing our hands.
So you can go ahead and enjoy that midnight snack that fell on the floor, but definitely toss the sponge you keep on the kitchen counter.