Spoiler Alert: Buffets can be FULL of germs! So keep this in mind

Buffets are a pretty amazing creation, right?

(It never hurts to have a second helping on the house!)

But something about buffets that you might not have thought about but definitely should — their cleanliness.

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With everyone touching everything, germs can spread pretty quick! And Chef David Burke swung by to prove our point.

After teaching us how to outsmart the sneakiest restaurant tricks, David covered his hands in sugar and started circling around our in-studio buffet, proving just how easily sticky fingers roam!

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If you want to keep yourself away from the germs, keep THIS in mind next time you visit a buffet: The spoon or tong you are using to help yourself is the same spoon hundreds of other people are using to get their food.

Some of these people might have gone to the bathroom and not washed their hands, and some of these people might have just sneezed into their palms. And then you know what they did? Grabbed the same serving spoon you're about to. (We know — willies!)

Related: Your home is covered in germs

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18 things in your home that are covered with germs
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18 things in your home that are covered with germs

Sink: It’s where all your kitchen dirt goes (we hope). In fact, it’s home to as many as 500,000 bacteria per square inch. Spray it down often, clean out your food trap, and scrub with scouring powder like Bon Ami at least once a week.

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Cutting boards: Whether you’re chopping meat, veggies or fruit, your cutting board could be Ground Zero for foodborne illness. Prevent cross-contamination by dedicating one board to meats and another to produce. And always wash your board ASAP after using it—especially if you were working with raw meat. Researchers at UC Davis also recommend plastic cutting boards over wood, because they’re easiest to sanitize—they can go in the dishwasher. Clean a wooden cutting board with soap and warm water, dry it quickly, and seal it with butcher-block oil whenever you notice the wood is drying out.

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Countertops: All the action—chopping, mixing, drink-pouring—happens here, so of course they’re covered with little particles of everything. First off, cut the clutter to give crumbs and germs fewer places to hide. Then wipe them with a damp microfiber cloth after every meal.

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Fridge shelves and drawers: Your refrigerator is home to both raw and cooked foods, and if it’s disorganized, they probably come in contact now and then. Store raw meat in a plastic bag to serve as an extra barrier, and stop spoiled food from turning into science experiments by throwing it away as soon as you notice it. Another cool trick we use at our house: Empty and wipe down the shelves and drawers whenever you do a big grocery shop.

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Sponges: They’ve been banned from commercial kitchens—ban them from yours, too. But if you must use a sponge, rinse it with hot water after every swipe. At the end of every day, get it wet and nuke it in the microwave for a minute. Toss it after a few weeks (one week if you’re missing the daily sanitizing routine).

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Dish towels: If you rush through washing your hands, some germs may still be hanging out on them and you’ll transfer those germs to the dish towel. Change dish towels a few times a week, and wash them with hot water when you do the laundry.

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Makeup brushes: They touch your face every day, coming in contact with oils, bacteria and dead skin cells. Wash them with mild soap whenever you notice makeup buildup.

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Towels: Like dish towels, they pick up any germs left after a shower. Plus, if your bathroom has poor air circulation, towels may get musty if they stay damp too long. Wash them in hot water at least once a week.

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Tub: The equivalent of the kitchen sink for your bod, the tub takes in a lot of grime. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth every day and get rid of mold spots with baking soda or vinegar. (Find dozens more ways to clean with baking soda here.)

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​​​Floor around the toilet: It gets splashed, plain and simple. For starters, make sure to put the lid down every time you flush. Clean up noticeable spots right away and scrub with bathroom cleaner at least once a week.

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Faucet handles: You touch these before your hands are clean. ‘Nuff said. Wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth.

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Toothbrush holder: It’s all about gravity: Many of the germs on your toothbrush drip into the holder. Rinse it out daily—do double-duty while you’re brushing your teeth with the other hand. Then sanitize your toothbrush holder in the dishwasher (if it can take it) or give it a good scrub with soap and water.

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Electronics: Smartphones, keyboards, mice, the remote control (OK, let’s be real: 17 remote controls)—germy fingers come in contact with them all the time. In fact, the National Institutes of Health recently found that cellphones are 10 times dirtier than toilet seats. Wipe them with a damp microfiber cloth as often as possible. Don’t forget to remove any cases so you can clean underneath.

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Doorknobs, handles and light switches: Even if your hand only touches these items for a fraction of a second, that’s enough time to transfer bacteria. Once again, a quick wipe-down with a damp microfiber cloth will do.

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Shoe rack: Footwear is a huge culprit for bringing germs into your home, so it’s no surprise that their storage unit is a bacterial breeding ground. Put some elbow grease into cleaning this one and wipe it with bathroom cleaner—you never know what somebody stepped in.

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Carpets and rugs: Even if you’re using the no-shoes rule, carpets suck up every crumb, dead skin cell and germ that hits them. Vacuum weekly and spritz high-traffic areas with a carpet sanitizer. If you can toss rugs into the laundry, do it.

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Bags: Your purse holds money (super dirty!) and your kid’s lunch bag holds food (raise your hand if you ever forget to clean it out over the weekend). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning these to keep them in the best shape.

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Toys: No matter whose toys they are—your kid’s or the dog’s—they probably spend a lot of time in somebody’s mouth. Consider what they’re made of, then clean accordingly, tossing them in the laundry, dishwasher, or wiping with a cloth.

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David's suggestion? "Make sure that the restaurant is changing serving utensils every hour," he says. Every buffet has its own set of rules, he says, so if you haven't seen those serving spoons changed, ask, and they'll probably be happy to give you fresh ones!

MORE: Does Washing Your Hands Prevent Colds?

Also a bonus: "Most places now have sanitizer right at the buffet for you to use before you start to plate." But just in case, he suggests, "Bring your own when you dine out!"

Wise words, friend — wise words!

Related: Germiest cities

6 PHOTOS
The germiest cities in the US
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The germiest cities in the US

New York City

The MTA bus, the subway and the good old yellow cab. New York isn't known for its cleanliness, but is its grimy rep deserved?

RELATED: Ick factor alert! 5 little-known facts about germs 

The city didn't get off to a great start; the bus handle the team tested had nearly double the amount of normal bacteria.

(Photo via Getty Images)

New York City

But the Big Apple redeemed itself in the taxi test.

That sample had a bacteria level under the 100-point threshold.

But the most surprising win came from the New York City subway. With a reading of 31, the subway proved remarkably clean!

(Photo via Getty Images)

Los Angeles

The metro in Los Angeles was about as germy as a New York bus. And the swab came away with visible dirt, which was extra unsettling.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Los Angeles

The above ground transportation wasn't much better. A bus pole the team swabbed had 259 points — over 150 more than the threshold. And the cab's credit card machine was even worse.

RELATED: In rental cars, dangerous bacteria may come along for the ride

(Photo by Gavin Hellier via Getty Images)

Chicago

The Midwestern city boasts about its relative cleanliness, so it should be able to pass the test, right? Wrong.

The CTA bus in Chicago clocked in at 730 — more than seven times the recommended threshold. But it didn't stop there; the taxi in Chicago came back with a score of 909. That's more than 800 points above the limit.

RELATED: What's the germiest place on a plane? Travel tips you need to know

(Photo via Getty Images)

Chicago

Those scores are bad, but the test run on the Chicago L train was the worst Jeff Rossen has ever seen, coming back with a result of 4,032. That's over 40 times the acceptable amount of bacteria. Yikes!

Sorry, Chicago, out of the surfaces tested, yours were the dirtiest of all.

(Photo by Ann Cecil via Getty Images)

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