Here’s what we found about the germs living on your money:

And specifically on your cash:

And your coins:

Methodology

All data in this report comes from a research project where forms of payment were tested for their surface bacteria. Specifically, we individually tested both the front and backside of 41 different debit and credit cards, 27 different bills of varying denominations, and 12 different coins of varying denominations. The germ score results for the known dirty objects featured in the second bar chart derive from an earlier report completed by LendEDU in 2019.

The LendEDU germ score derives from relative light unit (RLU) readings from Hygiena’s SystemSURE Plus handheld testing device. The device tests for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) on a given surface and gives the user an RLU reading within 15 seconds. For each surface tested, a Hygiena cotton swab was used to wipe the respective surface; that cotton swab was then dropped into the SystemSURE Plus device, which gives an RLU reading back in 15 seconds. That RLU reading is a number that LendEDU simply called the “germ score.” A higher RLU, or germ score, reading meant the surface was dirtier and covered in more bacteria and vice versa.

The Hygiena SystemSURE Plus is “the world’s best selling ATP Sanitation Monitoring System,” and has been used for over 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends monitoring cleanliness with an objective measurement tool, such as an ATP Cleaning Verification System like the SystemSURE Plus.

To calculate the average scores for each type of payment, the individual germ scores for each payment form were added together and divided by the total number of payment forms tested. To do the overall scores for each individual card, the front side and backside germ scores were averaged together.

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