6 Things You Should Never Touch in Public, According to the CDC

The COVID-19 pandemic has made these surfaces even riskier than they were before.

The spread of COVID-19 has made everyone more aware of just how germ-ridden the public spaces we share are. Even at a time when "wash your hands" seems to have become a new national mantra, it can be difficult to know how you can reenter the world without putting yourself at risk of infection. So how can you stay safe without always staying indoors? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released an updated set of guidelines that spells out which surfaces you should try to avoid coming into contact with when out in public. Besides wearing your face mask and bringing along hand sanitizer, you can help cut down your risk by steering clear of these objects. And for more things you should avoid contact with, check out 7 Things You'll Never Want to Touch Again After the Coronavirus.


A woman pressing on an atm touch screen to receive a receipt

Whether you're going to pay for your garage parking, withdraw cash from an ATM, or enter a PIN in the grocery store checkout line, it's almost impossible to run an errand without having to touch a communal screen or keypad. If you can't avoid placing your fingers on these surfaces, consider using a gloved hand to complete your transaction. But if you're stuck without a pair to protect you, just be sure to use sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as possible after touching one. And for more guidance about glove use, check out 10 Awful Mistakes You're Making With Your Gloves Every Day.


A woman woman wearing a mask enters a subway turnstile

The hardest thing about avoiding turnstiles is that they're actually designed to touch as many people as possible to control movement. If you find yourself entering a building where one is present, do your best to avoid pushing them forward with your hands as you walk through, and sanitize your hands immediately if you do. And for more tips about hand sanitizer you need to know, check out 6 Subtle Signs You Need to Replace Your Hand Sanitizer.


white woman holding hand rail
Shutterstock/Syda Productions

There's something ironic about not being able to touch something that was designed to put your hands on. But the coronavirus's ability to spread by surface contact makes them a potentially dangerous surface that you should avoid at all costs.

Restroom surfaces

public bathroom sign shows outline of male figure

Let's be honest: Even on a good day, spending time in a public restroom is not anyone's idea of a great time. Besides the typical microbial dangers that are present there, the COVID-19 pandemic has given us an entirely new set of reasons to avoid touching surfaces in communal bathrooms, including doorknobs, stall handles, flushers, and countertops. The one upside? You'll be able to wash your hands with running hot water and soap. And for more on safely using the bathroom amid the pandemic, check out The Bathroom Habit That Dangerously Spreads the Coronavirus.

Elevator buttons

man pressing the elevator close door button

Just like touchscreens and keypads, elevator buttons can see hundreds of touches in the span of a few hours. Try minimizing your risk of exposure by using a gloved hand, a sleeve, or your elbow to select your floor—and never enter an elevator it already has more than one or two passengers inside.


Young man using mobile phone while sitting on bench

While they may normally be a welcome sight when you're on a walk through the park or waiting for a bus, benches now present a potentially dangerous risk of contamination. Try to avoid the temptation to take a load off, but if you simply must sit down, spray the bench down with disinfectant before you do or sanitize your hands once you get up.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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