The five second rule: fact or fiction?

Baby’s cookie or binky falls on the floor. If you pick it up in five seconds, it’s still OK, right?

Wrong, says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System in a news release. “A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can’t really be sanitized,” he says.

All items that come into contact with a surface pick up bacteria (and dirt!). How much and what kind depends on what was dropped where.

Odds are, though, no harm will occur. Still, Parada says you are rolling the dice.

What about using your own mouth to “clean off” a dropped baby pacifier?

“That is double-dipping; you are exposing yourself to bacteria and you are adding your own bacteria” to the binky.

“When it comes to folklore, the `five-second rule’ should be replaced with `When in doubt, throw it out,'” he says.

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