Whether used to make a fashion statement, reinforce a motivational message or stop sweat during a workout, wristbands are everywhere. But without proper attention, they can become filthy little accessories.
More than 95% of wristbands tested recently by Florida Atlantic University researchers were contaminated with harmful bacteria. Indeed, that catchy bracelet could house E. coli and staphylococcus [sta-fuh-luh-kaa-kuhs] — and sometimes both.
The researchers tested metal, rubber, plastic, leather and cloth wristbands from 20 randomly recruited people. While the sample size wasn’t large enough to form definitive conclusions, they said the trends were notable.
The scientists calculated bacteria counts and their distribution on wristband surfaces. Then they tested the effectiveness of three disinfectants.
While almost every wristband showed some contamination, metal ones were cleanest: gold and silver bands had little to no bacteria. Plastic and rubber wristbands had higher bacterial counts.
The microscopic culprit most prevalent was staphylococcus, a leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections. It was prevalent on 85% of the wristbands. E. coli, a bacterium that originates in the gut, was there 60% of the time. Pseudomonas [soo-duh-mow-nuhs], which can lead to pneumonia and blood infections, turned up in 30% of the samples.
The sterilization techniques that what worked best were Lysol disinfectant spray and 70% ethyl alcohol: both killed 99.99% of germs in 30 seconds. Apple cider vinegar took longer to reduce bacteria counts.
When you’re slipping off that favorite wristband, remember that a little spritz of disinfectant can do a lot of good.