The Five-Second Rule Can Make You Sick

The Five-Second Rule Can Make You Sick

I’d be the first to admit that for years I have used a shorter variant of the five-second rule, which at my house we called the three-second rule.

When Sarah was growing up, if she dropped something hard and dry on the kitchen floor, at least one person would gleefully shout out “three-second rule!” and the item would be picked up and consumed.

For (what should be) obvious reasons, this rule did not apply to wet or sticky items, but it did apply to adults as well as children. Hey … parenting is all about compromises and on the spot decision making!

With that said, there were certain places where the three-second rule was never in force: bathroom floors, outdoors, public places, places where strangers stepped, spit, or did who knows what.

When I married Kev, I found that he and his girls practiced the five-second rule with similar guidelines. As far as I am aware, none of us have ever caught a virus or bacterial infection from doing this, buuuuut every few years there is a new study done to show why employing this rule probably isn’t the safest thing to do.

According to one of the latest, co-funded by Clorox and conducted by researchers at San Diego State University, “germs do in fact attach themselves to edible items within that amount of time.”

Well that’s nothing new, really. We all knew that, right?

But this is the part of the study that surprised me the most:

The countertop was found to be the dirtiest surface, with the carpeted and tiled floors following closely in second and third place.

Surely they don’t mean my often cleaned with a Clorox Antibacterial Wipe countertops? Surely this test was conducted in some random college sophomore’s dorm room, or in one of those houses they feature on Hoarders … right?

I refuse to believe that this could apply to my house, too; there is no way that my countertop could be nastier than the floor! I think. Or rather, I hope. And isn’t it supposed to be good for people to be exposed to some germs, because it keeps them from getting sick so often? That’s what I am going to keep telling myself, anyway.

So for those others of you who aren’t too worried about whether germs are gonna get’cha or not, I submit this flow chart …

You Dropped Your Food on the Floor. Do You Eat It?

Flowchart found on SFoodie

Germs trump the five second rule via Consumerist

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.