Forget about sponges, toilets, or cell phones: the germiest thing in your house might actually be your own face.

By Julie Mazziotta
May 04, 2015
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Forget about sponges, toilets, or cell phones: the germiest thing in your house might actually be your own face. More specifically, your (or your partner’s) "lumbersexual" beard may be harboring a disgusting germ colony.

At least, that's according to KOAT Action 7 News in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The news station recruited "a handful" of bearded guys to see what was lurking in their facial hair (aside from the crumbs of that morning’s breakfast). The result: some beards are as dirty as toilets.

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“I’m usually not surprised, and I was surprised by this,” explains John Golobic, the Quest Diagnostics microbiologist who tested swabs from the guys’ beards for KOAT. “These are the types of things you’d find in feces. It’s just completely loaded with enterics,” aka bacteria that normally occurs in your intestines (and poop).

One look at the horrifying petri dish is enough to put you off your lunch. Intrepid reporter Royale Da has had various objects (iPhones, door handles, and the like) tested as part of the station's recurring series, but the beard samples were the worst she's encountered. “I’ve never seen a petri dish this color before,” Da says in the video.

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On the bright side, the bacteria they found aren't going to make anyone sick—yes, bugs that cause food poisoning are also a type of enteric bacteria, but those specific germs weren't found.

“But it does show a degree of uncleanliness that would be somewhat disturbing,” Golobic told KOAT. A few publishedher studies have also found bearded faces to be germier than clean-shaven ones.

So should guys ditch the beards entirely? Nah, no need to change your look. This finding simply suggests that some men may not be washing up as well as they could, Golobic says. On top of a thorough beard scrub in the shower (with soap, shampoo, or a beard wash), everyone (bearded or not) should also practice proper hand-washing.

And “try to keep your hands away from your face as much as possible,” Golobic adds, since your hands are most likely the way the bacteria travels there in the first place.

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