May 18, 2024
Did you know that every dollar bill you touch harbors germs that can pose a health risk? This article explores the types of germs found on currency, the potential health implications of exposure, and practical tips for reducing the spread of germs. From contactless payments to hand washing, learn how you can keep yourself safe and healthy in a world filled with dirty money.


Have you ever stopped to consider just how dirty your money is? In our modern society, paper currency is a common form of exchange, yet we often overlook the fact that every bill and coin we touch is teeming with germs. In this article, we will explore the filth on your fingers, examining the types of germs present on currency, the potential health implications of exposure, and what can be done to mitigate the risks.

The Filth on Your Fingers: Exploring the Germs That Lurk on Every Dollar Bill

If you think about all the hands that currency passes through, it’s not surprising that the average bill carries a host of different germs. Everything from the common cold to more serious infections can be found on the surface of currency. Some of the most common types of bacteria found on bills include Staphylococcus aureus (which can cause skin infections) and Enterobacteriaceae (which can cause gastrointestinal illness). Meanwhile, viruses such as the flu and the common cold can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, meaning that even a recently circulated bill could be teeming with germs.

While exposure to germs is a part of everyday life, handling dirty money can pose additional risks. Studies have shown that cashiers are more likely to contract respiratory infections and colds, likely due to their frequent contact with bills and coins. Meanwhile, one study published in the Southern Medical Journal found that 94% of currency samples tested positive for potentially pathogenic bacteria. While most people won’t get sick from handling money, it’s clear that bills and coins can act as a vector for germs, which is cause for concern, especially given the current pandemic.

From Printers to Pockets: The Dirty Path of Paper Money

From the time paper money is printed to the moment it lands in a consumer’s wallet, it is constantly touching different surfaces and encountering different environments. This journey can further contribute to the accumulation of germs on bills and coins. For instance, during the printing process, currency can come into contact with bacteria and other pathogens in the air and on surfaces in the printing facility. Once it leaves the printing press, currency is transported to banks, where it can be stacked on top of one another and handled by multiple people, increasing the likelihood of contamination. Similarly, bills in circulation may be stored in wallets and purses, which can be breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, and other pathogens.

Money Talks, but What is it Saying? Examining the Bacteria and Viruses Found on Currency

Research shows that a wide variety of bacteria and viruses can be found on the surface of currency. One study published in PLOS One found that the flu virus can survive on a bill for up to 17 days (although it’s worth noting that the risk of transmission from handling currency alone is relatively low). Similarly, research from the University of Hong Kong found that banknotes can carry 44 different types of bacteria. Moreover, a study published in the journal Food and Environmental Virology found that the adenovirus (which can cause respiratory infections) can be detected on currency, even after being soaked in bleach and ethanol.

While the health implications of exposure to these pathogens are relatively low for healthy individuals, elderly individuals or those with weakened immune systems may be at higher risk of infection, especially if they have frequent contact with currency. Additionally, recent events such as the Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, which includes minimizing contact with objects that are frequently touched by others.

Clean Money, Cleaner World: Why We Should Care About the Sanitation of Financial Transactions

While we often think of sanitation in terms of keeping our homes, workplaces, and bodies clean, we may not consider the importance of sanitation in financial transactions. However, keeping our currency clean and free from germs is just as important as other types of sanitation efforts. By reducing the presence of germs on bills and coins, we can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, reduce the likelihood of sickness, and promote good public health practices. This is particularly important as we continue to face global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Practically speaking, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the spread of germs via currency. For example, washing your hands thoroughly after handling money can help prevent the transmission of germs to other surfaces or people. Additionally, using contactless forms of payment or sanitizing surfaces that come into contact with currency may be effective.[/p]

Cash is King, but at What Cost to Our Health? The Hidden Dangers Lurking on Bills and Coins

As we’ve seen, paper money can carry a host of different germs and pathogens, which can pose health risks, especially in certain populations. While it’s not practical to stop using currency entirely, there are steps we can take to reduce the risks of exposure. Some practical tips include:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly after handling cash
  • Using contactless forms of payment, such as credit or debit cards whenever possible
  • Sanitizing surfaces that come into contact with currency, such as wallets and purses
  • Avoiding touching your face after handling cash
  • Encouraging businesses to provide hand sanitizer near cash registers or to encourage the use of contactless payments

By taking small steps to reduce our exposure to germs on bills and coins, we can help promote good public health practices and keep ourselves and those around us safe.


It’s clear that the money in our pockets is teeming with germs and pathogens that could pose health risks, especially in certain populations. However, by taking practical steps to reduce our exposure to germs, we can minimize the risks and promote good public health practices in our daily lives. Whether it’s washing your hands after handling bills or using contactless forms of payment whenever possible, every small action can help keep us safe and healthy in the long run.

So the next time you handle cash, remember to take a moment to consider the filth on your fingers, and take steps to keep yourself and those around you safe from harm.

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