Most of us are suddenly more acutely aware of germs and the idea of cross-contamination from going out in public. At the same time, the show must go on and your favorite restaurants are re-opening with new safe dining policies. The best thing we can do is to work with restaurants. Here are six techniques to avoid germs on restaurant tables.
No doubt, the plates are clean and the food is sanitary, it has to be. But the table? Restaurants do their best, but we can do better. So today, we’re here to share some pro-tips on how to relax at restaurants by deftly avoiding the germs where they invisibly hide.
1. Carry Sanitizing Wipes & Wipe Down Your Place Setting
Everyone’s new best friend is a pack of sanitizing wipes that can kill the vast majority of the germs that linger on every surface in the public world. When you sit down at a restaurant, there’s no need to even break the conversation with your companions. Just casually move everything out of your place setting, grab a wipe, and wipe down your section of the table. Then clean your hands with a second wipe and tuck both into the section of your bag reserved for used wipes when there’s not a trashcan handy. This is first in the techniques to avoid germs list for a reason.
2. Never Use the First Napkin out of the Dispenser
When eating, you sometimes need to use the provided napkins, but not the first one. That first napkin in the dispenser has been sitting in the open air and has been spattered with spills or exposed to the germs that live on the table (and the outside of the dispenser. Always discard the first napkin and go for the second if you need to wipe your mouth. But the first napkin can be used to mop up a soda spill, since the table isn’t really clean anyway.
3. Use Touchless Flatware with Mouthpieces that Never Touch the Table
One of the most horrifying realizations at a not-so-clean table is that your silverware is set down on the table surface. The head of your fork becomes contaminated the moment it touches the tabletop, which is why touchless flatware is such a great innovation. Touchless flatware is designed so that the handle can rest on the table but the head of the utensil never touches the tabletop. So you can at least be sure that the food that reaches your mouth is still sanitary and safe from table germs.
4. Pack a Travel Placemat in a Zip-Lock Bag
Want to stop worrying about the table surface? It can be impossible to wipe down a cracked wooden picnic table or impractical to wipe down those plastic-covered-mesh tables. But you can bring your own dining surface. A washable placemat rolled up into a zip-lock bag is a great solution for comfortably enjoying your meal without constantly worrying about what germs your utensils, plate, or hands are picking up in the meantime.
5. Wear Lightweight Long Sleeves to Avoid Touching the Table Edge
In some situations, the table doesn’t seem clean enough to even be safe to touch. In these situations, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt can make a big difference in your comfort. If you like to rest your elbows or forearms on the table while you eat and talk then wear a thin long-sleeve shirt. Even better when you can take off the long-sleeve shirt after lunch and tuck it into your bag.
6. Bring Your Own Reusable Straws
Do you worry about who has touched your straws in restaurants? Even when they leave the little piece of paper on the end, someone still handled the rest of the straw to get it in there. One trick for the pro-germ-avoider is to pack your own reusable straws and keep them in a plastic zip-lock in your bag. Then simply ask for drinks without a straw and use your own.
Being acutely aware of all the germs and avenues for illness in the world can make enjoying restaurants and public meals a little tricky. But if you’re prepared and have your act together, being a pro-germ-avoider is easier than you might think.
If you found these techniques to avoid germs helpful, don’t miss these techniques to beat the afternoon slump.