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A Commuter’s Companion: What Germs Are You Sharing Your Seat With?

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A Commuter’s Companion: What Germs Are You Sharing Your Seat With?

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Julius Rutherfoord has been providing specialist cleaning services in London for commercial offices and establishments since 1994. We’re committed to creating a healthier, cleaner environment that’s better for everyone, including you!

Whilst our highly trained cleaners can sanitise and disinfect your workplace, they’re also conscious that office employees must leave work at some point, too, leaving them exposed to environments which are potentially contaminated. In this informative guide, we take a look at how germs are transmitted on public transport, and provide some expert advice on how best commuters can protect themselves against harmful bacteria, thus minimising their risk of infection.


  1. How Are Illness-Causing Germs Passed Onto Other People?
  2. Frequently Touched Surfaces On Public Transport
  3. Simple Steps To Minimise Your Risk Of Infection
  4. Julius Rutherfoord: Not Just A Professional Office Cleaning Company

How Are Illness-Causing Germs Spread To Other People?

Common illnesses such as the cold and flu virus are spread either through direct contact with a contaminated surface – which can then be easily transmitted from hand to mouth – or by infected airborne particles which are breathed in or enter the eye after somebody has coughed or sneezed.

Commuters on overcrowded public transport during rush hour are at considerable risk of infection from others. If someone is ill and has no other choice but to sneeze openly in close proximity to another passenger, it’s likely that the other person will contract the disease, especially if they are already vulnerable to infection.

Poor ventilation and constricted spaces which are common on bus and rail services are also opportunistic environments for harmful bacteria to breed. Whilst opening a window to allow fresh air to flow through a carriage can minimise the risk of germs spreading to other passengers, small windows that are insufficient enough to do this, and train carriages that use air-conditioning units which re-circulate air, rather than clear it, can actually make ideal conditions for pathogens to survive.

Germs can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, so without frequent, thorough cleaning, passengers will be exposed to and at risk of contracting a viral or bacterial infection. This is just one of the reasons why Julius Rutherfoord’s expert cleaners pay particular attention to germ hotspots in your workplace. Read on to discover more about frequently touched surfaces that harbour bacteria on buses and trains, and how best to survive the morning commute unscathed!

Frequently Touched Surfaces On Public Transport

Whether you travel to work by bus or by train, there are certain surfaces which are known to have a higher concentration level of dirt and bacteria on them which can cause illness. These are known as frequently touched surfaces or germ hotspots, and they can carry contagious diseases such as the cold and flu virus and MRSA. Some of these frequently touched surfaces on public transport are:

  1. Hand rails
  2. Seats
  3. Chair arms
  4. Buttons and door handles – Including access to different train carriages and also stop buttons on buses.
  5. Windows
  6. In the restroom: Including hand dryer buttons, toilet flush levers and soap dispensers.

Regrettably, these areas won’t be cleaned half as frequently as they are touched, since passengers will continually enter and leave throughout the day, leaving behind germs that other, future passengers will pick up and spread.

Whilst this is unfortunate, avoiding these surfaces when on a bus or a train is almost impossible, and it would be unreasonable for us to even suggest you attempt to do so! Holding on to hand rails when navigating to or from your seat is essential for your safety, and pressing the stop button when you want to get off the bus is also somewhat unavoidable! Fear not, however, as below you’ll find some simple ways to avoid becoming ill after using public transport!


Simple Steps To Minimise Risk Of Infection Of Public Transport

Whilst touching certain germ-ridden surfaces is practically unavoidable on public transport, there are some simple things you can do to decrease your chances of becoming unwell. You can also take necessary measures to protect other passengers from germs when you’re feeling under the weather too.

  1. Hand hygiene – Washing your hands frequently throughout the day using warm water and soap, no matter where you go, is incredibly important. A virus is contractible on a person’s hands up to six times, so thoroughly cleaning your hands, before and after using public transport, is a highly effective measure against the spread of pathogens.
  2. Coughing and sneezing etiquette – Keep a pack of tissues or a hanky close just in case you have to sneeze or cough. This way, others won’t have to suffer because of your thoughtlessness.
  3. Open the windows – As mentioned earlier, simply opening a window, especially in humid conditions, will help to rid infectious airborne particles on buses and other transport.
  4. Get the flu vaccine – Another effective measure against the influenza virus is the flu vaccination, otherwise known as the “flu jab”. This is given free on the NHS as an annual injection to adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu and also children between six month and 2 years old. You can find out more information about the flu jab by visiting the UK National Health Service website.

Julius Rutherfoord: Not Just A Professional Office Cleaning Company

Our cleaners provide the highest level of service for commercial, healthcare and educational buildings, keeping staff, patients and children healthy and preventing the spread of contagious diseases. If you would like more information or advice on how to minimise your chances of contracting an illness on public transport and in the workplace, our blog is frequently updated with related posts! You can also follow us on Twitter @J_Rutherfoord and like our page on Facebook for frequent news!

If you’re interested in award-winning cleaning services in London and would like to discuss your individual requirements, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly customer service team on 020 7819 6700. You can also email us at

Julius Rutherfoord