Beware of Dirty Money


When I was younger I used to run a business which involved handling a lot of cash. While having a drink with a friend one night – who also ran a similar business – we were discussing just how dirty money is.

Now, we were not talking about the fact that money can be a corrupting or an obscene force at times, that one is a given. 😉 Instead, we were discussing the sheer amount of germs that must be present on each and every coin or note that we touch. If you were to think about it too much then it would most likely freak you out but to illustrate my point, it has been proven through studies that a £1 coin actually contains more germs than there are present on an average toilet seat. The study also pointed out that the average European bank note is home to around 26,000 bacteria!

Who was the last person to handle it?

I know I said it would freak you out to think about it but let’s, just for a minute. 🙂

As a person, you can be as clean and as hygienic as you like. Washing your hands after you go to the toilet, before and after you eat, disinfecting your work surfaces and the list goes on. Then you head off to the supermarket to do a bit of shopping and you are faced with the very real prospect of being handed a £5 note which has just been given to the cashier from someone who could – for all you know – be the filthiest person alive. I’m thinking of someone out of one of those episodes of obsessive compulsive cleaners. Worst of all there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, at least not at the moment of contamination. I have to say that it does make a case for heading further towards a cashless society, but we’ll save that subject for another day. The even scarier thing about it is that the same studies we mentioned earlier regarding the £1 coin also highlighted that almost half of Britons think that money is generally clean, and so freely admit that they don’t wash their hands after handling it.

So without being too OCD, what can we do to protect ourselves?

The simplest thing that we can do to protect ourselves from the effects of handling dirty money is to wash our hands after handling it. Sure, it may not be practical to run straight off to the supermarket toilets just after you’ve paid for your shopping, but we could all take a moment to wash our hands when we get home from a shopping trip, couldn’t we? Just before we make ourselves a quick sandwich? Urgh. Or, if you feel that a little hint of obsessive compulsive disorder wouldn’t go amiss in this situation, then maybe you could even go as far as to carry some anti-bacterial gel around with you, just to be on the safe side. One final thought would be to make every effort to use your credit or debit card when paying for your shopping at the checkout, instead of paying with cash.

Having said all of this, as I mentioned earlier I did run a business for a long time which involved handling a lot of cash all day long and I’m still here, so I guess it can’t be all that life threatening. I do wonder just how many coughs and colds over the years may have been linked to me picking up something nasty from a pound coin or note, though.

Do you ever worry about how dirty money is?

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