Purell Lovers Rejoice! – new devices for germaphobes, Part Two

And for more info, here’s part of an article on the above, and germs. Having not yet survived a very nasty upper respiratory infection, including laryngitis, bronchitis and sinusitis, and two rounds of antibiotics (and you know what that means – carton after carton of yogurt!), that’s still hanging around, I begin to think maybe, just maybe, there’s something to this:

Germs Never Sleep

Published November 5, 2006

“Georgia-Pacific, the paper goods company, began receiving field reports about mysterious collections of used paper towels near bathroom exits. Further investigation found bathroom users were carrying towels to the door to cover the knob and then discarding them on the floor (because the trash cans were far away).

In the summer the company introduced Safe-T-Gard, a combination dispenser of doorknob-size tissues and a trash receptacle to be mounted on the wall next to doors.

Consumer fear of unclean environments has developed significantly over the

last five years, said Bill Sleeper, the general manager of Georgia-Pacific’s commercial tissue and towel category. “All of the issues of nosocomial infections in hospitals, the risk of bird flu, the cruise ship outbreaks, there’s just more and more awareness of health issues,” he said.

But some of the resulting behavior makes no sense, Mr. Sleeper said. The company’s studies have found bathroom users covering their fingers in toilet paper before flushing and using more tissue to open stall doors, even though there is almost no health reason to do so, because their next stop is the sink to wash their hands with soap and water.

Another company, Fulkerson, in Cumming, Ga., is attacking doorknobs differently. Its SanitGrasp, introduced in May at the National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago, replaces traditional pull handles with a large U-shape device, which allows a door to be opened with a forearm.

At the grass roots, antigerm innovation is furious:

• Sandra Barbor, 60, of Sandwich, Ill., was always bothered by having to grasp the handles of shopping carts, and when her husband was found to have myelodysplastic syndrome, which compromised his immune system, she was driven to invent the Sani-Shopping Cover, a $3.49 strip of protective vinyl that adheres to cart handles. Ms. Barbor, a retired marketer, has sold about 1,000 covers online.”


Page 2 of the article:

“• Hotel guests, concerned that bedspreads are not washed as frequently as sheets, have taken to whisking them off the bed on arrival and throwing them, bottom side up, into a corner. Marriott hotels responded last year with a bedding concept called Revive. Comforters are encased in white cotton covers, which are washed with the bedsheets. [more on this one later]

City Year New York

A portable personal subway strap.

• On the Internet frequent travelers caution about the dirtiness of hotel television remotes (suggestions include carrying a plastic bag to sheathe these button-covered germ magnets) and room coffee mugs. (Maids, the discussion-board wisdom goes, do not replace them with properly washed ones but use the towels they used to clean the toilet to swab dirty cups.)

FREQUENTERS of such message boards insist their fears are reasonable.

One of them, Julie Zagars, 34, a consultant to the food and beverage industry, said by phone, “I am a frequent traveler, and I simply don’t have time to get sick.”

When Ms. Zagars boards planes, she first slips around her neck the Air Supply Ionic Personal Air Purifier, which the company promises will repel allergens and viruses. Next she wipes the armrests, headrest and tray table with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, and finally she pulls out her own cotton travel blanket.

Some antigerm sentiment could be stemming from the increasing pressure not to miss days at work, said Allison Janse, an author of “The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu: Guerrilla Tactics to Keep Yourself Healthy at Home, at Work and in the World.”

The task of transmuting fear into cheer is left to marketers. Probably the first wave of modern germ consciousness began in 1997, with the consumer introduction of Purell, the hand-sanitizing gel (around since 1988 for the medical profession). Pfizer, its maker, has updated the product as the new wave of germ-fighting gadgets arrives. The company has introduced a multicolor line of the sanitizer, Purell-2-Go, which comes in small bottles with rubber rings to attach to backpacks, lunchboxes and key chains. “We tried to make it fun,” said Erica Johnson, a Pfizer spokeswoman.

A children’s book by Elizabeth Verdick published this year by Free Spirit titled “Germs Are Not for Sharing” has illustrations of children playing together without touching. “When germs get on your hands,” the text reads, “they can spread to other people. When you hold hands or play games or give each other high fives.”

“I kind of doubt kids will stop giving each other high fives,” said Dr. Michael Bell, the associate director for infection control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While Dr. Bell recommends teaching children about hygiene, washing one’s hands after using the bathroom and making sure to clean kitchen surfaces carefully is as much as most people need do, he said.

There is no hard scientific evidence that any of the air filters, nose sprays or personal sterile headrest covers for travelers help prevent infections.

But facts are not standing in the way of the antigerm marketplace, where style is becoming increasingly important. In 2001, Hydro-Photon of Blue Hill, Me., introduced SteriPEN, a portable but somewhat clunky ultraviolet device to disinfect drinking water for adventure travelers. The device is being used not only by back-country campers but also by urban Americans wanting to take extra precautions.

They want to carry the pen in their pockets, said Ed Volkwein, the company president. He expects to have a sleeker line of $130 SteriPENs, colored silver and black, in stores by Christmas.

Big-city living is a minefield for the germ-conscious. Emily Beck, the inventor of City Mitts, nonslip antibacterial gloves that commuters can wear to grasp subway handholds, has developed a prototype of a product to keep potentially infectious strangers even farther at bay.

The Excuse Me flag is a little yellow banner mounted on a lightweight pole, which is attached to one’s waist so it swings back and forth in front of the wearer during walking. Any other pedestrian who walks too close will be slapped in the face by the pole or the yellow flag, which reads “Excuse Me.”

“It generates a cubic yard of free walking space between you and a sneezer,” Ms Beck, a former New Yorker, said from her home in Delaware. “It makes it so you don’t have to touch anybody or talk to anybody in New York.” ”


From Crave.cnet.com (all of the following):

Dec 11 2007

Organic hand sanitizer for crazy parents

Attention, parents of school-age children. Are you worried about a growing Purell addiction? CleanWell has the hand sanitizer for you.

The San Francisco-based company has come out with an alcohol-free, all-natural hand sanitizer. I got some samples at the ThinkGreen conference last week and my hands have been free of epidemic-causing bacteria ever since.

Need a sanitizing spritz?

(Credit: Michael Kanellos/CNET News.com)

The company claims it kills Listeria monocytogenes, Candida (we can make it together) albicans, Streptococcus pygenes, and Salmonella enterica. You can’t spray it on chicken, but the salmonella killing would be great for kitchen sanitizing. Spray CleanWell on your hands and it kills over 99 percent of these germs in 15 seconds, according to the company.

The active ingredient is called Ingenium. It’s not from the Periodic Table of the Elements. Instead, it’s a mix of essential oils that kill germs in concert. The product literature is great. It shows a kid hugging a deer. Most people would think: “cute.” To moms, that deer is just a rat with horns.

The 1-ounce spray bottle pictured here costs $7.99 and is good for 225 sprays. (That’s a lot of deer hugging.) The company also sells wipes and other products.

Posted in: Green tech

Sep 24 2007

Another way to keep food squeaky clean

(Credit: Tersano)

It’s already shaping up to be a banner day for the germaphobes here at Crave. Just after posting an item about the latest OCD vacuum cleaner, we came across another gadget to sanitize our food as well.

The “Lotus Sanitizing System” uses “super-oxygen” infused water to pulverize bacteria and other unsavory elements from pretty much whatever will fit in its “multi-purpose sanitizing bowl,” according to Shiny Shiny. (You can watch a video of it in action here.)

Granted, it’s not the first food sanitizer on the market–there are even gadgets out there designed to make meat squeaky clean. But at $170, it’s far cheaper than other models we’ve seen. Besides, when it comes to ingestion (and digestion), the true germaphobe never skimps.

Posted in: Science, Home

Jul 17 2007

How to have a public bathroom at home

(Credit: Amazon)

Talk about the world turned upside-down. The last thing we thought we’d ever see is people clamoring to make their bathrooms more like public loos, but that’s apparently what’s happening in our increasingly fixture-fixated consumer market.

We knew the trend had become mainstream (no pun, honest) after witnessing the overwhelming popularity of Dyson’s “Airblade” hand-drying machine. But that product is aimed at the business market–we think. The “EZ Touchless Infrared Sensor Faucet,” however, is clearly destined for the household at $50, according to GadgetGrid.

And why not? It’s at the perfect intersection with yet another hot trend, products targeted at the germaphobe community.

Posted in: Home

Jul 11 2007

Ultimate germaphobe gadget 2.0

(Credit: Hammacher Schlemmer)

Some months ago–on Jan. 1, as a matter of fact–we reported what we then thought was the “ultimate germaphobe gadget,” perhaps our way of ushering in a bacteria-free 2007. Barely halfway through the year, however, that item appears to have already been eclipsed.

Not only does the “Wide Coverage Germ-Eliminating Wand” claim to eradicate “99 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold, and dust mites,” but it can do so in broader areas with a 6-inch ultraviolet lightbulb. All the germaphobic head of the household needs to do is hold the wand 3 inches over a suspect surface for 20 seconds, according to Hammacher Schlemmer, and it can be programmed in 5- or 60-minute intervals.

We haven’t heard from him lately, but we’re certain that the “OCD Action Figure” will be pleased.

Posted in: Lifestyle

Jul 2 2007

Your iPhone is disgusting

Photo of Apple iPhone with iSkin revo case.

Dropping your iPhone in the toilet might actually be an improvement.

(Credit: iSkin)

iSkin’s latest antibacterial case made for Apple’s iPhone reminds us that a product’s coolness is no defense against deadly bacteria. In fact, studies have shown that cell phones happen to be one of the filthiest objects imaginable–dirtier than a toilet seat, computer keyboard, or the bottom of a shoe. There’s just something magical about the combination of spittle and your text-crazy hands that make mobile phones a germ’s best friend. The antibacterial iSkin Revo case for the iPhone is due out this month with a price of $39. Until then, think twice before passing your iPhone around at a party.

Posted in: Phones, Science, Music

Mar 1 2007

Air purifier zaps germs at 400 degrees

(Credit: Appliancist)

A USB air purifier is fine when you’re on the road, but at home you need something more powerful for a fully sterilized bubble. That’s when you might want to consider the “Airfree Platinum 2000.”

Its name may sound like something out of RoboCop, but the purifier claims to eliminate 99.99 percent of all germs. The secret weapon is a ceramic core that reaches 400 degrees, a temperature where no micro-organism can build their germ villages, according to Appliancist. (Airfree claims that it functions at these levels without burning down the house. Glad they mentioned that.)

We’ve seen–and tried–our share of miracle air cleaners, so forgive us for withholding judgment on Airfree’s claims. But even if it doesn’t pan out, you can always turn it into a futuristic Trojan helmet.

Posted in: Home, Lifestyle

Feb 26 2007

USB purifier claims to clear the air

(Credit: Fareastgizmos)

It’s been a banner week for germaphobes. Just the other day we pointed to a device that purifies water with UV rays, and now we get word of a product that filters out airborne germs from the air within its immediate vicinity.

The “Ionic USB Air Purifier,” according to Fareastgizmos, “discharges negative ions to absorb second-hand smoke, odors, clean airborne dust, and eliminate bacteria, germs, viruses.” The device circulates air silently without a fan and needs no filters. All you need, apparently, is faith.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Peripherals, Science

Feb 23 2007

UV lamp zaps bacteria from water

(Credit: Broadband Media)

Good news, fellow germaphobes. We’ve seen all manner of gadgets that sterilize surfaces but none that address what we ingest. Until now.

The “SteriPEN UV Light Water Purifier” treats H2O with a germicidal lamp, supposedly rendering it bacteria-free with no chemical aftertaste and “99.99 percent safe to drink,” according to Mobile Magazine. With our luck, we’ll probably be among the remaining 0.01 percent.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Science

Jan 1 2007

The ultimate germaphobe gadget

(Credit: Hammacher Schlemmer)

‘Tis the season to get sick, and Crave wants to do its part to help keep you healthy. We could list various types of bacteria-resistant and washable equipment on the market, but we’ve learned of another gadget that claims to detect and zap germs even before touching a piece of potentially infected hardware.

Hammacher Schlemmer says its “Handheld Germ-Eliminating Light” can “eliminate 99.99% of E-Coli, staphylococcus, salmonella, and germs that cause the flu and the common cold.” The miracle gadget supposedly works with the same type of ultraviolet light and nanotechnology used to sterilize surgical instruments in hospitals.

If you’re considering one of these as a belated holiday gift, we suggest personalizing it with an OCD action figure to show how much you really care.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Science

Dec 25 2006

A keyboard to fend off the rugrats

(Credit: Unotron)

The timing for this is perfect, as parents all over the world face the prospect of sticky-fingered kids running amok on sugar highs from an oversupply of holiday treats.

The mere thought of grubby little mitts everywhere is enough incentive for some of us to leave Christmas dinner early just so we can order one of Unotron’s wired or unwired washable keyboards, which SCI FI Tech says “can be sprayed over and over with disinfectants, submersed in cleaning fluid, rinsed under a faucet and then blow-dried.” It’s an ideal alternative for kids playing on the computer while the Legos are in the dishwasher.


So, using all of the above – will it keep you safe and healthy and free from the nasty germs around this season? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?


One response to “Purell Lovers Rejoice! – new devices for germaphobes, Part Two

  1. It’s too bad I didn’t see this dishwasher about three months ago. I would have bought it on the premise alone that it could wash the Legos.

    Now I am stuck with one of those “normal” can’t wash Legos dishwashers. Bah!