We'll start by confirming your suspicions: There's a good chance your grocery cart (or basket) harbors bacteria. The hard plastic handles of the carts are a "high-contact" area, says Andrew Lai, MD, an infectious disease specialist in Kaiser Permanente Southern California. And on those handles, the microbes that cause, say, the flu virus can survive for up to a few hours. Research
has found that the amount of bacteria on some of these carts (on both the handles and in the child seat area, where some people place produce or other foods) is higher even than what's in the average public restroom. There's good news, though: a swipe with an antibacterial wipe kills most harmful bacteria, and many stores now have them available near the cart pick-up area. The important thing, says Lai, is that after you wipe the handle, wait 10 to 15 seconds to let the sanitizer work, and then
start pushing the cart. And if your store doesn't have wipes for customer use, BYO.