Sneezing 101: Which Contains Germs Better — Tissue or Elbow?

By ABC News

Jan 27, 2014 8:14pm

On the flu season battlefield, everyone is a potential enemy, firing their germs like ballistic missiles.

ABC News set out to answer the following question once and for all: How can you best stop the spread of germs when sneezing and not get everyone around you sick?

Is it by using your hand or sneezing into your elbow? What about a tissue?

ABC News did a demonstration. A paper ruler was laid down, high-speed cameras were set up and participants rinsed their mouths with food coloring so testers could track where the sneezes landed. To keep the dye off their clothing, participants also wore protective suits.

1. Sneezing in the open. ABC News found that one participant’s sneeze landed as far as almost 11 feet away.

ABC sneezing open jef 140127 16x9 608 Sneezing 101: Which Contains Germs Better    Tissue or Elbow?

ABC News

2. Covering the mouth with hands when sneezing. When the participant sneezed and attempted to cover her mouth, some particles landed 3.5 feet away. Much of the sneeze was found on the hands. If you use your hands, find a place to wash them.

ABC sneezing hand jef 140127 16x9 608 Sneezing 101: Which Contains Germs Better    Tissue or Elbow?

ABC News

3. The “Dracula” sneeze. It’s considered a “newer” move that many have been advised to use — sneezing into the elbow. But even with the elbow, much of the sneeze still got through and some particles landed 8.5 feet away.

ABC sneezing arm jef 140127 16x9 608 Sneezing 101: Which Contains Germs Better    Tissue or Elbow?

ABC News

4. Tissue time. When the participant sneezed into the tissue, ABC News found that nothing had gotten through.

ABC sneezing tissue jef 140127 16x9 608 Sneezing 101: Which Contains Germs Better    Tissue or Elbow?

ABC News

Of course, however, if you feel that sneeze coming on and you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into your elbow.

Gesundheit!

 

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