HOW GROSS ARE YOU?

(Men's Health) Every now and then, food sits on the counter all night and sheets don't get changed. But how germy does that make your life, really? Jessica Migala gets the facts on how risky your habits are to your health.

You eat pizza that sat out all night
How gross is it? Pizza crust is dry, the sauce is acidic, and pepperoni and sausage are preservative laden all things that don't support bacteria survival, says Angela Fraser, Ph.D., a food safety professor at Clemson University. Different story if you got spinach and tomatoes: Moisture-rich toppings tend to breed microbes that can gang up and fell you with diarrhea and vomiting. Best to refrigerate pizza within four hours, before bacteria have the chance to really go wild.

You wash your coffee cup once a week
How gross is it? If you take your joe black, you're in luck: "Coffee has antimicrobial properties, and it doesn't contain the nutrients bacteria need to multiply," says Fraser. Nutrients like protein and sugar which means milk and creamer. If your lips deposit bacteria that combine with milk residue, you could give birth to millions of germs. Limit the chance: Wash the mug every time.

You use the same dishrag until it stinks
How gross is it? That odor is a telltale sign of a bona fide science experiment. By the time something smells, "it has millions of organisms growing inside says Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona. You need only hundreds of organisms to cause illness. That can include E. Coli and salmonella. Ideal: Throw it in the washer after every use. Since pretty much no one does that, at least spread the rag out to dry. That'll kill 90 percent of Bacteria, she says.

You wear old gym clothes
How gross is it? "Most men have probably re-worn sweat-stained shirts without a problem," says Jason Miller, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group I n Freehold, New Jersey. You might get minor acne on your chest or arms; worst case, a strap or fungal infection or folliculitis. If you do wear yesterday's clothes, kill acne-causing bacteria by washing up after your session with a body wash that contains benzoyl peroxide.

You sleep on dirty sheets
How gross is it? Many people carry strap-bacteria on their skin without it causing trouble. But it could if the germs you naturally shed while you sleep multiply enough, says Reynolds. Aim to launder sheets weekly, or at least wash your pillowcase, since it's next to germ entry points your mouth, nose, and eyes.

You text on the toilet
How gross is it? Is this at your home, and do you live alone? If son, fine to keep the conversation going. Not so in a public restroom, says microbiologist Philip Tierno, Ph.D., of the NYU School of Medicine. Think about it: You touch the door and locks, pick up a virus, then deposit it on your phone while texting. Later, your phone goes up to your mouth, and the virus goes in. You need only one measly cell of norovirus to chain you to the toilet without texting for up to three days. Keep it in your pocket.

You skip washing your hands after peeing
How gross is it? None of our experts specifically said it's okay, but it's not the biggest offense. "It's unlikely that you'll pick up a germ while urinating that's hazardous in the way it can be if you pick up a microscopic particle of stool on your hand when using the toilet," says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University. Washing with soap after sitting, of course, is nonnegotiable.

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