3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - Flu season is revving up, and 3 On Your Side is looking at gross germs that could make you sick.
Our team worked with Phoenix College to see some areas you need to wipe off or clean your hands after touching.
Using a sterile swab, biology students take 3 On Your Side around campus, testing various surfaces for bacteria.
"We find all of this skin bacteria," Phoenix College professor Dr. Robin Cotter said. "So, the next time you are lifting weights at the gym, you may be picking up some friends."
By friends, Dr. Cotter is talking about various types of bacteria. Although it may sound like a case of "gross germs," not all bacteria is bad.
However, we did find one place that will make your "skin crawl."
"The one that surprised me a little bit was how much bacteria was growing on the surface of the gas pump handle," she said.
In this case, 3 On Your Side swabbed a gas pump handle in central Phoenix.
The results surprised Dr. Cotter, who said the large number of germs we found are easily transferred if you don't wash your hands following filling your tank.
"Now I am picking that bacteria up, and I go into the convenient store, and I buy my Slurpee, and I may be transferring them to the surface of the food and drinks," said Dr. Cotter.
We swabbed purses since they're put down in all kinds of places. To our surprise, our samples came back pretty clean for the type of bacteria that we tested for.
Other germ stops we made included public e-scooter handles in downtown Phoenix and playground equipment at a north-central Phoenix park.
Most of the bacteria we found at these areas were harmless. However, Dr. Cotter said some of these germs might make you sick, including the pesky germs that are spread from sneezing and runny noses.
"[Kids] can pick that bacteria up on the surface of their hands, and that can lead to things like wound infections as children scratch things," she said. "It can also be transmitted to our food."
Here's a gross stat for you: experts estimate one out of three people don't wash their hands after using the restroom. But, there is a simple thing you can do to keep you safe and healthy.
"The good news is with simple hygiene, washing our hands with soap and warm water we are able to remove most of the bacteria that makes us sick," Dr. Cotter said.
Don't forget, not all bacteria is bad. Dr. Cotter said it's very beneficial and a vital part of our environment, but it's important we don't pick up the bad bacteria, and to make sure the surfaces of your home are clean.