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NextGen Magazine


Study: All Money Is Dirty Money

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 23, 2019
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Contrary to the adage, under no circumstances should you ever put your money where your mouth is: A recent study found that every conceivable way we could pay for something at point of sale, whether cards or bills or coins, is riddled with germs. 

LendU, a personal finance website, used a device that tests surfaces for bacteria and assigns them a germ score. It noted, as a reference, that food establishments need a germ score of no more than 10 on on their surfaces to be considered sanitary. 

With this in mind, it found that there's absolutely nothing sanitary about payment cards. The ones they tested had an average germ score of 285, with the dirtiest having a score of 1,206 and the cleanest having a score of 48. In general, the back of the card had more bacteria than the front. 

Bills, despite their reputation for being covered in feces, cocaine and (apparently) dog spittle, were actually much cleaner than cards, with an average germ score of 160. Five dollar bills were the dirtiest, averaging 216, while the cleanest were one hundred dollar bills, averaging 76, which seems to make sense as the former is likely handled far more often than the latter. 

Coins were the cleanest of all physical payment forms, with an average germ score of 136, which nonetheless is 10 times higher than the score of a clean surface off of which one could theoretically eat. Dimes were the dirtiest coin, and quarters were the cleanest.

So then you could say, "OK, I guess I just won't use any of these methods." Nowadays people can use their smart phones to pay for things at point of sale. No need to touch dirty cards, cash or coins. Problem solved, right?

Well... I've got some bad news...