London cash machines more filthy than public toilets or Tube poles, new research finds

Rebecca Speare-Cole

a person using a laptop

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Terrifying levels of filth have been found lurking on ATMs around London, new research reveals.

A team of experts swabbed 27 cash points across the capital and found that some were festering with more bacteria than loo seats, public toilet door handles and poles on the Tube.

One cash machine in Shepherd’s Bush was found to have 100 times more bacteria than what is considered the safety limit for medical operating theatre surfaces and dining tables, according to the study from financial blog Quid Corner.

This ATM located at 420 Uxbridge Road was found to be the grimiest machine from those tested around London.

a close up of a map: The grimiest and cleanest ATMs found around London, according to the new research. (Quid Corner)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The grimiest and cleanest ATMs found around London, according to the new research. (Quid Corner)

Coming in second was a machine at 415 Strand, closely followed by another at 122 High Holborn near Piccadilly Circus.

Other filthy cash points included one at 208 Piccadilly, two near Oxford Street and two on Camden High Street.

A member of the Quid Corner team told the Standard: “When you’re commuting around London you get used to a bit of grime, so I wasn’t too shocked to find out that a lot of the cash machines were pretty dirty.

“What did shock me was the fact that the ones the looked the cleanest were the ones that harboured the most bacteria.”

Top 10 dirtiest ATMs found in London

1. 420 Uxbridge Rd: 1049.75 RLU

2. 415 Strand: 840.75 RLU

3. 122 High Holborn: 809.75 RLU

4. 114-120 Camden High St: 655.25 RLU

5. 154-120 Camden High St: 612.5 RLU

6. 17 Gerard St: 609.5 RLU

7. 208 Piccadilly: 573.5 RLU

8. Market Place, Oxford St: 548.25 RLU

9. Westfield Stratford City: 533.25 RLU

10. Broadwick Street, Oxford St: 524.5 RLU

The team put this down to the number of customers because a rarely-used ATM will collect dirt, grime and pollution making it appear filthy.

“However, a cash machine that is used regularly will have this grime wiped away by the many people that touch it and instead it will collect all the various bacteria they have on their hands,” they said.

“So when you’re using a cash point in a well-trodden part of London it’s almost as if you’re shaking hands with the hundreds of other people who’ve used it before you.”

The tests were carried out using a measurement of light to calculate the amount of adenosine triphosphate present – a chemical that bacteria use to process energy.

The reader took measurements in relative light unit scores or RLU. Only 10 RLU’s are considered safe in operating theatres, according to the research.

However, more than 1049.75 RLU were found on the Shepherd’s Bush machine alone.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Comparing cash machines to surfaces found on a London commute. (Quid Corner)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Comparing cash machines to surfaces found on a London commute. (Quid Corner)

The team used Google Maps to find various cash machines in some of the busiest most heavily-trafficked areas.

With a shortlist of 27 cash machines they went about finding the dirtiest by swabbing the cash machines all over the city.

They then placed the swab on the SystemSURE Plus reader to find some disturbing results which were compared to objects and surfaces typical for a London commute – from the bottom of a shoe to a bathroom sink.

The dirtiest part of the cash machines were the keypad with an average of 734 RLU. Next was the touchscreen or buttons with an average of 640 RLU, the research found.

“You just need to remember that a cash machine carries more bacteria that a toilet door handle or even a toilet seat,” the team said.

“So, in the same way that you would wash your hands after using the toilet, after using a cash machine make a note to wash your hands at your next opportunity.”

Evening Standard