It's back-to-school time, which means a few things: parents everywhere are either saddened (or rejoicing) that their wee ones are going to be back in class five days a week. It also means that we're now coming up on one of the sickest times of the year: fall.

Want to reduce your chances of getting whatever latest bug is going around? Then learn more about the dirtiest places in your world so you can try to take some precautions.

Read on to learn about the germiest places you encounter almost every day. Some of them may shock you.

1) Kitchen sinks. Even the amount of water and soap you use while washing dishes can't stand up to the number of germs that decaying food and used plates foster.

2) Outdoor music festivals. While my mother called herself a "dirty hippie" and explained that sunshine does kill germs, apparently that is not true at outdoor music festivals. Too many people drinking, touching, and vomiting on one another.

More from The Stir: Hotels Are Infested With Germs but Your House Isn't Much Cleaner

3) Door handles. Doesn't matter if the door handles are in school, at the office, or in the gym - they attract germs, dirt, and grime. They are also - and even as a nurse, this shocked me - one of the most prevalent transmitters of the flu and of the rhinovirus (common cold).

4) Your purse or backpack. Apparently, the insides of the things we use to tote around our stuff are rife with nasty germs and infectious bacteria. (Runs off to get Lysol.)

5) Wet laundry. This is a shocker, but wet laundry can hold a lot of microorganisms that love the warm, wet environment. These bacteria can spread through to other clothes if not properly sanitized in hot water.

6) Playgrounds and play areas. I always knew there was a reason I loathed taking my children to those indoor (and outdoor) playgrounds: they're full of germs. It makes sense that the indoor play areas are riddled with bacteria, but I'd (wrongly) assumed that the outdoor ones were a little less germy.

7) Hotel linens. While linens do get washed by the staff in hotels, people do a lot of weird, wacky stuff when they're not at home.

8) Your keyboard and mouse. With most of today's workforce relying on computers to work, it's fairly easy to see how the oils and bacteria from the hands can leave behind germs, dirt, and easily communicable disease, like the flu virus or the common cold.

9) Cell phones. You don't think about the germs - especially your OWN germs - you can easily transmit from mouth and hands to your cell phone. Because more and more people have smartphones, cell phones have become increasingly germ-laden.

10) Hospitals and doctor's offices. When you think "hospital," you rarely think of the dangerous germs that are strewn around (unless you're a nurse, like me). It's impossible for the hospital and office staff staff to keep up with the sterilization that's required to maintain a completely germ-free environment. This is why you should ALWAYS make sure that anything you wear into the hospital or use in the hospital is properly washed using the hottest settings on your washing machine/dryer.

Wow. There were a lot of places that surprised me. Which one surprised you most?

 

Image via Fotos Gov BA/Flickr