Sanitizing Shopping Carts: Fecal Matter Debate

A friend of mine on Facebook shared this recent article on poop and shopping carts (those words should not be in the same sentence, right?) that has got me wondering how gross carts really are. The study was in Oregon (where I’m from- go Beavs!) so it’s likely you haven’t heard of it. A new store in Oregon now has a “new device that sanitizes your cart with a push of a button.” (Full article.)

Shopping cart sanitizer machines might be coming to a store near you!

I have to tell you, I pretty much never sanitize the shopping cart before putting Lucas in it. Okay, I don’t know if I’ve ever sanitized the shopping cart. I mean, now that I think about it, I’m sure they are pretty gross and full of germs but, you know, germs are everywhere, so I don’t sanitize the shopping cart handle just like I don’t sanitize the doorknob to the public restroom door before he or I touch it.

However. I think after reading this article, I seriously might change my ways.

Unfortunately, this sample study was small, but it’s still probably a good indicator: 72% (or 61 out of 85) of shopping carts had fecal bacteria – poop– on them. 

Here’s part of the article, as reported by 

“University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, the scientist who conducted the recent study, found fecal bacteria on the handles of 61 of 85 shopping carts tested in four states. Half of the 36 carts subjected to further testing yielded evidence of E. coli bacteria.
That’s more fecal matter than was found in the stores’ restrooms.”

More fecal matter than in bathrooms? Not only is that absolutely horrifying and disgusting, how is that even possible? Ick.

I think a sanitizer “machine” is awesome, but I haven’t decided if it’s something I would actually use or not. I can see myself using a wipe more often, if it does the same thing.  It’s really hard for me to say of course, but if it does take just three seconds; heck I might as well push it through if it will kill all those germs, right? Especially with Lucas always eating while we’re grocery shopping, it’s probably even more important! Also, the employees could easily push them through which would be really nice if you picked out a cart that was already freshly cleaned for you! Can they pamper me with chocolate and snacks for my kids on the way in, too? (Kidding.)

What do you think? Do you think this is overkill or a good idea? Did you know shopping carts were that gross? Do you sanitize your shopping cart before putting your kid(s) in it? 

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

10 thoughts on “Sanitizing Shopping Carts: Fecal Matter Debate

  1. When Keeley was a preemie–up to about a year old, I would either wipe the cart down, or cover my hands with my sleeves when using it. I started putting hand sanitizer in my truck, too. After she was declared 'healthy' by her ped, then I just kind of slacked. During cold and flu season, I'd use sanitizer and then wipe her hands with it briefly. Once I got pg again, I started really using the hand sanitizer–and she started asking for 'lotion'- so I started giving her a squirt, too. We live in the boonies, so cart cleaners are a LONG way off for us!

  2. On one hand, if we were just talking about cold and flu germs, I'd say its overkill. Our kids can't live in a bubble. Killing off bad germs also kills good germs and just increases the likelihood that a more resistant genetically modified germ is lurking around the corner.

    But fecal bacteria? Yeah, I might have to wipe a cart for that.

  3. I don't normally use the sanitizer wipes or hand sanitizer…like EVER…maybe 1 or 2 times for the wipes & I'll use sanitizer if my hands are sticky & I don't have any wipes or water nearby.

    BUT, I do keep Luke's mouth off of the carts & when he was still in the habit of putting his hands in his mouth 70billion times a day, I used the shopping cart protector.

  4. I didn't read the article, but you had me at fecal matter! My local grocery store provides wipes near the cart corral and I ALWAYS use them. Gross! I won't ever forget now.
    If by some chance I forget to, we all sanitize our hands as soon as we get in the car. I am only anal with the sanitzier after using a cart! I know my kids ( adults too) need some bacteria/germs etc. But we don't need fecal matter! 😉

  5. I have a huge problem with our culture's need to sanitize. Not only are we creating 'super bugs' but we're using all sorts of harmful chemicals in the process. Besides, we actually have more bacterial cells in our bodies than human cells ( and things like strep and e coli exist in our bodies already, it's only when our bacteria are out of balance that it causes illness…

    I guess my short answer is that I would not use it 🙂

  6. I normally dont use anything to clean it. If wipes are right there, sometimes I do. When my son was young enough that he just seemed to lick the cart, I used a cart cover, but that is it. I dont really hear stories every day about kids getting really sick from carts, so I think we are pretty good. Hope that I am not wrong!

  7. Ok Gross…I might have to reconsider my dump them in the cart and go approach….but probably not, germs are germs, but still pretty gross to think about!

  8. I sanitize the cart when I think about it, which is maybe 50% of the time…? I also sanitize toys that are put in the babies mouths usually about once a week. I don't use any commercial cleaners though. I use all natural homemade producs to clean. Just a simple wipe down with my cleaner and they are good to go!

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