This is the filthiest item in your doctor’s office

Doctor visits should help us beat the common cold, prevent health issues, and generally keep us well. But beyond sick people coughing and sneezing in the waiting room are germs in places you never knew. In fact, new research conducted by InsuranceQuotes.com found that the item with the most germs is actually the clipboard pen used to sign paperwork.

Researchers tested a few commonly used items around three general physicians' offices to see which surface was the "germiest." They conducted 12 tests across four surfaces they determined were touched most by both patients and doctors in the office.

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10 wildly overinflated hospital expenses
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10 wildly overinflated hospital expenses

Tylenol

Charge to patient: $15 per individual pill, for a total of $345 during average patient stay

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Patient belonging bag

Like a grocery bag, to hold your personal items.

Charge to patient: $8

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Box of tissues

Sometimes listed as “mucus recovery system,” a single tissue box in a hospital costs $8.

Charge to patient: $8

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Gloves

Charge to patient: $53 per non-sterile pair (sterile are higher), for a total of $5,141 during average patient stay.

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Cup medicine

Cost is for the plastic cup used to administer medicine, not the actual medicine inside it.

Charge to patient, per cup: $10, for a total of $440 during average patient stay

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Marking pen

To mark the body for surgery.

Charge to patient: $17.50

Blood pressure cuff

Use of blood pressure cuff in a hospital costs about $20.

Charge to patient: $20

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Oral administration fee

Charge for a nurse to hand you medicine taken by mouth.

Charge to patient: $6.25 per instance, for a total of $87.50 during average patient stay

Headlight

Cost of use of the overhead light in an operating room.

Charge to patient: $93.50

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Swabs, alcohol

Charge to patient: $23 per swab, for a total of $322 during average patient stay

Luckily, though, you don't just have to helplessly accept these high hospital costs. Check out these tips to help lower your hospital costs.

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The results were cringeworthy. The clipboard pen has more than 46,000 times more germs than an average toilet seat. "[The] analysis of a few general doctors' office items revealed the clipboard pen was alive with germs to the tune of almost 8 million colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch," the report says. "If that term has you scratching your head, it simply refers to the bacteria's capability to live and reproduce to form other bacteria of the same kind." Find out the 12 other everyday items that are also dirtier than a toilet seat.

The doctor's keyboard ranked second dirtiest followed by the waiting room chair armrest and the door handle—all of which also harbor more bacteria than a toilet seat. Consider that the most common bacteria sampled were strains that cause pneumonia and sepsis. It might be worth bringing your own pen to the office and keeping your hands to yourself. Next, check out these 12 simple habits to boost your immune system.

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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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