Category Archives: Annoyances

Anti-bacterial cleaners

I’ve been avoiding anti-bacterial products and am annoyed by the positive sounding benefits that these products are said to have. While their claim of killing 99.9% of bacteria sounds compelling at first, the thought of leaving behind .1% of bacteria that can’t be killed sounds rather scarey.

An interesting article from, researches swabbed for bacteria in 32 locations within 35 houses. Here’s the number of bacteria per square inch found:

  1. Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
  2. Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
  3. Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
  4. Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
  5. Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
  6. Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
  7. Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
  8. Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
  9. Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
  10. Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch
  11. Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
  12. Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
  13. Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
  14. Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
  15. Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
  16. Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
  17. Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
  18. Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
  19. Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
  20. Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch
  21. Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
  22. Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
  23. Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
  24. Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square inch
  25. Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
  26. Bathroom door’s inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
  27. Toilet’s flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
  28. TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
  29. Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
  30. Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

I measured one of my kitchen countertop (#12 above). It’s 2’x6′. That equals 1728 square inches. If I multiply that by 488 (the number of bacteria per square inch) I get 843264 bacteria. Now, if I use a cleaner to kill 99.9% of them, I’m left with 8432 bacteria. That sounds like a lot of bacteria spread throughout my kitchen counter.  And as a reminder, this isn’t your regular garden variety bacteria. This is highly resistant super bacteria, able to withstand some pretty harsh chemicals. This bacteria doesn’t have to compete for food, housing or jobs from its fellow bacteria.

So I ask you, is it worth it or do you think it’s better to let them all live to fight it out with each other in their own little microscopic world?

Let me out!

We had a friend coming over to visit and I needed to make a quick stop at Safeway to pick up a few items. The store wasn’t particularly crowded but for some reason, everybody seemed to be mulling around, blocking aisles and in no rush to get out of the way.

When picking out a checkout line, I typically look for four things:

  1. A short line. I count up the number of people waiting to check out.
  2. Full/empty status of the customer’s carts. A short line doesn’t always mean a quicker checkout. There’s a balance between a large number of people with 2 items each or a small number with a cart half full.
  3. The status of the conveyor. A very full conveyor either counts as an additional person, or reflects poorly on the speed of the cashier if it’s not continuously rolling.
  4. A judgment call of the cashier’s competency. I quickly try to determine if I think that the cashier is a seasoned pro, or if they are hiding an “in training” badge in their coat pocket. A fast cashier can made up for items 1 and 2.

Most aisles had a few people on line, but I found one that fit all of my criteria. Nobody was on line. The conveyor was empty. The last customer had all of his items bagged and looked like he was awaiting his receipt. The cashier looked competent.

I unloaded my items into the conveyor, looked up and saw that the guy was still waiting. Not only was he waiting, but he was in conversation with the cashier. I got distracted for another minute, looked back and when I looked back, they were still talking. I wasn’t listening but wish I had been because I couldn’t imagine what they could be discussing.

Even the bagger somehow seemed distracted and was laughing at something. It couldn’t have been the cashier/customer conversation because their chat looked as though it had a different tone.

As I stared, the customer turned to me and said, “Sorry for holding you up.”

I just stared back. I’m usually quite polite and in my mind I thought of saying, “it’s ok” but bit my tongue. It wasn’t ok. I had to get home in 5 minutes and I live 8 minutes away. Every second counts.

Just as I was about to say, “Exactly how long will this be? Should I move my stuff to another aisle?” he received some sort of printout from the cashier. It’s not clear what it didn’t seem like it was a receipt.

Finally, the guy left and it was my turn. The cashier scanned my items, somewhat slowly. Fortunately, I only had about 8 items.

I handed her my Safeway card to scan, saving me about $7 in the process. I then ran my credit card through, punched the appropriate selections and signed my name. When I looked up, my items were still sitting on the back conveyor and not placed in bags. A woman walked up to the cashier and said, “Time for your lunch break.” The both of them then proceeded to chat.

I went around to the back of the aisles and started grabbing items to place into bags. In doing so, it seemed to get the cashier into gear and she filled a second bag. Finally, she handed me my receipt.

Well, not exactly. She extended it towards me, holding onto it with quite a grip. How do I know? Because as she extended it to me, I reached out and tried to take it. With that, she looked at my name to tell me how much I saved today. “Mr. um… how do you pronounce your last name?” She then tried but pronounced it wrong and I continued tugging on the receipt.

I said my name correctly and she let go of the receipt. “Do you need help out today?” she asked.

“No, I just need to get out.” I turned and walked out of the store.

And in case you’re curious, I made it home with a few minutes to spare so that I could put my groceries away before our guest arrived. Whew.