Perhaps all money should be laundered.
Studies have piled up in recent years describing exactly how filthy—specifically how bacteria-laden—our dollars and cents can be. Fecal bacteria and other pathogens may have hitched a ride from someone’s hands, nose or apron onto our cash. And yeast or mold might have taken hold, too. The result could be a durable risk to our health whenever our money changes hands.
The fibrous surfaces of U.S. currency provide ample crevices for bacteria to make themselves at home. And the longer any of that money stays in circulation, the more opportunity it has to become contaminated. Lower-denomination bills are used more often, so studies suggest our ones, fives and tens are more likely to be teeming with disease-causing bacteria. Some of these pathogens are known to survive for months, according to a recent review of “dirty money” studies. Unfortunately, dirty dollars—whether denominations of $1 or