Sustainable Parenting

What’s Lurking On Your Shopping Cart Handle?

How To Protect Yourself And Your Child From Shopping Cart Germs

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Let’s have a serious conversation about germs. Not only because of COVID-19, but because even prior to the outbreak, people still got sick from being in contact with unsanitary shopping carts.

When you think about it, we latch onto a shopping cart with a death grip for a good length of time. Sometimes we’re in that grocery store for a good 30-45 minutes—and the entire time, we’re clutching that shopping cart handle like it’s a safety bar on a crazy amusement park ride.

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Meanwhile, our exposed skin is coming into contact with some really nasty stuff. And if you have kids, it becomes even more problematic because kids like to rub their eyes, stick fingers in their mouth and noses, and sometimes even gnaw on the cart handle. It’s enough to give any parent anxiety.

A study conducted by the University of Arizona showed the following bacteria lurking on shopping cart handles:

Courtesy of Foodprotection.org

Why Are Shopping Carts So Dirty?

In a nutshell–they never get cleaned! If you think about it, aside from the handles being swiped with an anti-bacterial wipe from time to time, the rest of the shopping cart frame remains dirtier than a toilet seat. This is due to:

  1. Being used by multiple people throughout the day, everyday for 365 days a year.
  2. Being filled up with groceries consisting of packaged meat that ooze blood.
  3. Being sneezed on.
  4. Transfer of fecal matter from improper hand-washing.
  5. Children drooling and gnawing on the handles
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If You Have Kids, Use A Shopping Cart Cover

When I was pregnant with my first-born, one of my baby-shower gifts consisted of a shopping cart cover. I still have that little cover and use it with my second-born child. My daughter is 3 and I still use it. When I return home, I simply throw it into the washing machine and wash it in hot water. Simple.

Seaside Brother

Sanitize The Handles

This is a no brainer. Whenever I enter the grocery store, I grab a couple of sanitizing wipes (complimentary of the store) and wipe the handle. You should also bring your own supply of anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizer just in case the store runs out.

You can even buy a shopping cart handle cover that can also be used on shopping baskets, like the one below by Shopexzone. It’s incredibly convenient and can be stored in your car or tote bag when not in use.

Shopexzone

Don’t Let Your Kids Sit In The Back Of Shopping Carts

I often see a lot of parents allow their children to ride in the back of the shopping cart. And I didn’t think much of it until I read an article about all the bacteria that lurks in that part of the cart. Packaged meat like pork and poultry products, are often placed into that area, sometimes leaking blood. This exposure leads to Salmonella and Campylobacter infections.

What does all this mean? It means that parents are literally pushing their kids around in a metal biohazard on wheels. To avoid contamination, it’s best to seat your child in the front and have the older ones walk beside you.

However, if you have two small toddlers and you absolutely must place one in the back, you can use a “Buggy Bench”. The Buggy Bench easily attaches to any size shopping cart instantly creating a second seat. When not in use, simply fold it in half and store it in your diaper bag or car. It’s a fantastic solution for twins or when you simply have more than one child with you who can’t walk.

Buggy Bench

Fussy Toddler? Bring A Toy From Home

If you have a child who isn’t a very patient shopper and wants to tug at your shopping cart cover or reach for products in the back of the cart, give her something clean to hold; like a toy or object from home that they have great interest in. My daughter enjoys holding a pair of my sunglasses. Knowing that she’s distracted allows me to concentrate on the items that I need to get. This makes our shopping trip quick and easy.

And As Always, Wash Everyone’s Hands When You Get Home

When we return home, I have both my children get up on their little step stool and wash their hands with soap and water—myself included. They quite enjoy it. They love lathering and squishing the soap bubbles and it’s become a fun activity.

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