WATCH: You will not believe how dirty handrails on escalators are

A TikTok video illustrated the fact that escalator handrails accumulate large amounts of dirt and grime, making them a potential vector for disease.

 Shoppers in Hadar mall, Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Shoppers in Hadar mall, Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Escalators, found at shopping malls, department stores, airports, train stations and other large public spaces, make traveling significantly easier, especially when carrying luggage or other items.

However, like most objects that are frequently touched by many people each day, the handrails that escalator-riders use to keep their balance accumulate large amounts of dust, dirt and microbes.

In a TikTok video posted by the user "marvinlaqueen" last Sunday, he follows a commenter's advice to put a sticker on the handrail of an escalator, places a paper towel or wipe on the rail and let the conveyor belt run until the sticker reaches the cloth.

When Marvin lifts the cloth, it is visibly covered in dirt.

What specifically can be found on escalator handrails?

According to CBS News, escalator handrails are one of the dirtiest places in shopping malls.

Dr. Charles Gerba, part of a panel of experts that was asked by Health.com to rank the worst germ spots at a local shopping center, described the results of one test, which found “food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails,” according to CBS.

@marvinlaqueen Réponse à @Karo&lt3 ♬ Happy and fun corporate music for advertising. - TimTaj

“We've found respiratory flora on handrails, which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails.”

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology, NYU Langone Medical Center

Gerba and Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology from Langone Medical Center at New York University, added that wherever mucus is present, cold and flu viruses likely are as well.

“We've found respiratory flora on handrails, which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails,” Tierno said.

How to reduce disease transmission

Gerba recommended that people reduce the risk of disease transmission by avoiding touching handrails whenever possible, and advises that when someone must touch a handrail, they use hand sanitizer afterward, CBS added.