What’s on Your Dollar Bill?

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dollar bill

My first job out of college, while I was looking for more permanent work, was working at a bank. I’ve shared before in my stock broker confessional about how I got to deal with some interesting clients. Working at the bank was no different. I got to see every day how people managed, or didn’t manage, their money and some of the crazy things people spend money on. Case in point was the guy who was regularly overdrawing his bank account due to his Girls Gone Wild subscription, but that’s a different story for a different day.

What I hated most about working at the bank was having to deal with cash for 40+ hours per week. I may love money and what it allows me to do but, seriously, the dollar bill is flat out nasty. I always came home feeling like I needed to be power washed to rid myself of the nasty grime on most bills.

I always knew there was some nasty stuff on money but this infographic confirmed my suspicions. I mean, seriously, 90% of the bills in the U.S. have traces of E.Coli or staph infection? I guess I’m just glad that I don’t live in China, as this infographic claims Chinese bills house up to 178,000 bacteria colonies. One word – NASTY! If that’s not crazy enough, then consider the fact that nearly ¼ of all counterfeit American currency comes from one locale – North Korea.

So, as a way to lighten things up a little bit this Monday morning I thought I’d share this neat little infographic I found over at Visually. Have a great Monday all!

Money Makes the World Go Around

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

What’s the largest, in currency, size bill you’ve ever seen? Did you know that each bill has parts of recycled denim in it? Do you wash your hands after handling cash – I want to know!

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.


  • I am amazed and horrified about the E.coli and Staph, but I also can’t believe that 90% of bills have traces of cocaine. 90%?????? That seems a little high… no pun intended…

  • MMD says:

    For some reason all I can think about is how disgusting old Scrooge McDuck’s money bin must have been if there is that much stuff on dollar bills.

  • Money is gross! I have heard a few of these things, but I also learned some new ones. The infographic states that the $2 bill was last printed in 2003. That’s weird, because my bank actually had many stacks of freshly printed $2 bills around 2006/2007. I guess they were just getting out. Thanks for the infographic!

    • John says:

      I was a little surprised by that date on the $2 bills as well. They always seem brand new to me when I do see one, but then again, they’re not used much so I guess that likely plays a role in it.

  • Interesting stuff! It’s amazing how short of a time frame that $1 are actually in circulation. I also didn’t realize that 75% of money is made of linen. I wonder if you made a shirt or pants out of money if it would be breathable to wear. After all, you typically wear linen in hot weather to keep cool!

  • It’s interesting that the dollar bill only lasts an average of 21 months. Seems like a super short period of time, but I guess if you factor in how often they change hands I suppose they’d need to be replaced. I can’t imagine working with money 40+ hours a week – so dirty.

  • Money is disgusting! My friend also worked at a bank for a while and said that all the money that came from the strip clubs in the area would always be incinerated. I was amazed. What a waste of resources. Its something I never considered but I’m actually glad that they don’t put that money back into circulation!

  • Dave Lalonde says:

    I honestly never thought about that! I mean, I knew they were dirty—but not THAT dirty! Not going to lie, I find this truth disturbing, I think I should stick with my card more often now. Thanks for infographic, it really was an interesting read!

  • Please don’t show this to Rick: he’ll never touch money again. 🙂

  • Grayson Bell says:

    Good graphic! I always knew money was nasty. You have to think about it because money exchanges hands so often. It is just dirty!

  • YUCK! Thankfully I purchase just about everything with my credit card, which is, hopefully, clean.

  • I just had a garage sale this weekend and dealing with cash freaked me out. My daughter kept putting quarters in her mouth as well- dangerous and disgusting!

  • Aldo @ MDN says:

    I didn’t know how short the lifespan of a $1 bill was. I knew there were traces of cocaine on dollar bills but on 90% of bill? That’s a little crazy. “Cocaine is a hell of a drug” – Rick James

    The E.coli and Staph grossed me out a bit. I’m going to go wash my hands now.

    • John says:

      Ha ha, my hands were always dry and cracked when I worked at the bank from washing my hands so often. The crazy thing is they still felt dirty.

  • Ha! I have never thought about what is on my money and now I won’t be able to stop thinking about it. This kind of reminds me of some of those shows that highlight the germs that are lurking everywhere and how people are always freaked out by public toilets, yet those get cleaned a few times a day. You have to worry about what does not get wiped down regularly like the bathroom door, your computer keyboard and now your money.

    • John says:

      I know! It’s the everyday things that we assume are clean that likely are very dirty. I’m no germaphobe, but seeing things like this could convert me.

  • Fascinating. Utterly and completely fascinating. Perhaps the best way to avoid cash is to be broke? But we are moving to a cashless society. More and more the use of bills is fading. I wonder if we can ever become a cashless society. I hate to think where the bacteria would move to if we did.

    • John says:

      I think here in the States it’s going to be some time til we move cashless. That said, I’m sure the bacteria will go somewhere.

  • Kim says:

    When I see a movie where they get a big windfall and roll around in the money on top of the bed or something, that makes me want to go take a bath in Lysol. I feel really sorry for bank tellers.

  • I hear quite a few bills have traces of cocaine on them since they are often used for snorting lines.

  • Catherine says:

    Yup, money is d-i-s-g-u-s-t-i-n-g!
    I can’t figure out what the US hasn’t moved to different money. We (Canada) got rid of the penny which I love, have coins for denominations up to two dollars and our bills are a polymer plastic (which is cool and pretty :))

    • John says:

      I don’t know why either. I think we’re too stuck in our ways and don’t want to admit that there are better ways to do it.

  • Michelle says:

    I used to work in retail, and dealt with money all the time. I remember we used to have a huge bottle of hand sanitizer on the counter and I literally used it every SINGLE time I touched cash. I didn’t care if my hands were so dry and cracking from using it so often (LOL), I needed something quick to wash all the germs off of me!

  • Great infographic, John. And now I’m really, really glad that I generally pay for everything with a credit card since cash is so freaking dirty! LOL! I guess it shouldn’t be shocking given how many hands it goes through. I am surprised that so much counterfeit money comes from North Korea. Fascinating stuff. 🙂

  • I am so horrified at how gross money is! I’m slightly relieved knowing how well we can beat off germs, but still a little grossed out. It’s also quite impressive that so much counterfeit money is in circulation. This is the type of graphic that I want to save in case I’m at trivia! 🙂

    • John says:

      You’d be surprised how much is in circulation. I saw the stuff all the time at the bank, people just do the stupidist things!

  • E.M. says:

    Oh wow, that is pretty awful! When I worked in retail my hands always ended up having that money smell by the end of the day. I hated it! I’m so glad I use my credit cards for most purchases now.

  • Jason B says:

    I love info like this. I used to work at a bank so I knew some of it already. I get $2 once a month form my credit union. I use the bills to tip people when I am out at restaurants or bars.

  • Lauren says:

    Money is gross! I try not to think about where it may have been before it passed into my hands. I had no idea how short the lifespan of bills are, though. Very interesting!

  • OK, I have to agree with you, that’s Nasty! It’s also interesting that there’s been 100,000 dollar bill denominations printed. That’s awesome! I want one!

  • Germs are all over the place but even more so on money because it’s handled by so many people. When I see someone with money hanging out their mouth I cringe. I had to laugh about wanting to be power washed after a day of handling money at the bank. I’m sure you’re not alone….. hand washing should be part of everyone’s routine not matter what we do or touch.

  • I guess I better stop licking my dollar bills. 🙂 That kind of doesn’t surprise me…I figure it’s helping me build up a better immune system. So I’m wondering then when money is done with its life span, where does it go?

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