Dropped grill items, ice cream cones that topple, pacifiers that hit the floor — most of us have employed the five-second rule at some point to salvage a lost item. Usually some helpful witness shouts out “5 Second Rule” to egg you on. No one uses this rule more often, or liberally than a toddler. Trust me, I know this. But what happens when an infection disease expert takes five on the five-second rule? Ultimately, it’s a bunch of bahooey, although there are varying degrees of exposure.
First, a dropped item is immediately contaminated and can’t really be sanitized. All items that come into contact with a surface pick up bacteria (and dirt!). How much bacteria and what kind of microbes depends on the object dropped and the surface it is dropped upon. Sure you might be able to rinse it under water, but it’s not going to be able to get rid of everything.
According to scientist Jorge Parada, “Maybe the dropped item only picks up 1,000 bacteria, but typically the innoculum, or amount of bacteria that is needed for most people to actually get infected, is 10,000 bacteria — well, then the odds are that no harm will occur. But what if you have a more sensitive system, or you pick up a bacteria with a lower infectious dose? Then, you are rolling the dice with your health or that of your loved one.”
The number of germs picked up is variable. For instance a potato chip dropped on a clean service is probably going to be okay. An ice cream cone on the floor? Not so much. Unfortunately, toddlers don’t discriminate against location. Their decision is based on hunger and how much they desire whatever it is they dropped.
One way to help keep your family safe is be keeping your home clean, which sometimes requires a periodic deeper clean. You could rent or purchase a commercial quality cleaner and cleaning supplies, or you can sit back and relax while you have someone else take care of it for you. Yeah, that sounds closer to my cup of tea.
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I am a Zerorez SoCal Ambassador. This post is written on behalf of Zerorez SoCal by me. All opinions remain my own.