Remote controls In case you thought simply watching TV at home can do you no harm, you should be in for a surprise. According to scientists from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, your remote control along with a range of other household items is a hot spot for viruses that could give you a cold.

Accompanying your favourite channel hopper in that garnering the cold virus known as rhinovirus are locations like doorknobs, refrigerator door handles and bathroom taps. Researchers reveal that the viruses stay on the surface of these gadgets for up to 2 days causing them to get easily transferred to the person using them.

Lead researcher Dr Birgit Winther mentioned, “Some people still spray the air with disinfectants, but rhinovirus doesn’t fly through the air. I think that the message from this research is that we need to focus more wisely on cleaning commonly touched surfaces in the home.”

“The cold virus is a hardy one because it survives on surfaces for so long and can then be passed on, putting the whole family at risk of infection. Home hygiene is key in the fight against colds. By focusing on the key hygiene hotspots, cleaning them with a quality disinfectant product, families can help protect themselves without trying to sanitise their homes,” added Professor John Oxford, virologist at St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospital, London, and chairman of the UK Hygiene Council.

As part of the research, experts tested 10 sites in the homes of 30 people suffering from common colds along with a test for their nasal secretions too. Each participant was checked for the cold virus, rhinovirus. Surprisingly researchers discovered rhinovirus traces in almost 4% of surfaces in the homes. On the fingertips of more than 50% of the participants, the Rhinovirus genetic material showed its presence even after 48 hours of the surface being contaminated.

In addition, experts also found that everyday activities like turning on or off the light switch, holding a telephone handset, a TV remote control or even turning the door knob for that matter transferred the virus to our fingertips.

While researchers recommend people boost the immune system by frequently washing their hands, cleaning dishcloths properly and maintaining overall hygiene, the UK Hygiene Council suggests people to regularly spray touched surfaces with a high quality disinfectant that should kill the virus.

The study is published in the American Journal of Medicine.