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How Dirty Is Your Cash?

September 3, 2020

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There’s a world of germs below your fingertips. Yep.

Dollar bills travel far and pass through many hands. 

One and five-dollar bills change hands an average of 110 times annually. And these bills have an average life span of more than five years. 

With each stop, millions of tiny passengers hitch a ride onto your dollar.

Bacteria galore 

In 2017, a science journal released a study that looked at the microbes on one-dollar bills from a Manhattan bank.

The study found all kinds of microbes camping out on our paper money. Yes, that means bacteria and viruses.

The bills they studied traveled across New York City. 

When you pick up a dollar, imagine shaking hands with all the people who owned that dollar before you and their little friends.

In 2002, researchers in Ohio gathered money from a grocery store’s checkout line and the concession stand at a local high school’s basketball game. 

Their study found that 94 percent of the bills contained pathogenic or potentially pathogenic organisms.

In other words, there’s a kingdom of bacteria living on your cash. 

Cleaning our money

So how do we clean our money?

A 2013 study suggests washing our dollars. Researchers used a special kind of carbon dioxide for the cleaning that wouldn’t damage the bills.

Another solution might be changing dollars from their current mix of linen and cotton to some type of polymer according to this 2010 study.

Go Cashless

Each time a bill is passed along, it picks up new bacteria. There’s been concerns that cash might spread  COVID-19. Thankfully, most places take card or contactless payment.

We don’t hate cash, but, at least until we’re out of this pandemic, leaving it in the bank may be the safest way to go.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

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Julian Dossett

Julian Dossett

Julian is a tech and finance writer, covering stories from artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency to personal loans and credit cards. His work has appeared at The Simple Dollar, Bankrate, and Blockchain Beach. As a former Cision editor, Julian worked across the table from many of the nation’s most trusted brands. He’s currently based in New Mexico.

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