Relating to or characterised by a strong desire to avoid or eliminate germs. Also: anti-germ.
At the grass roots, antigerm innovation is furious:
Sandra Barbor, 60, of Sandwich, Ill., was always bothered by having to grasp the handles of shopping carts, and when her husband was found to have myelodysplastic syndrome, which compromised his immune system, she was driven to invent the Sani-Shopping Cover, a $3.49 strip of protective vinyl that adheres to cart handles. Ms. Barbor, a retired marketer, has sold about 1,000 covers online.
Hotel guests, concerned that bedspreads are not washed as frequently as sheets, have taken to whisking them off the bed on arrival and throwing them, bottom side up, into a corner. Marriott hotels responded last year with a bedding concept called Revive. Comforters are encased in white cotton covers, which are washed with the bedsheets.
On the Internet frequent travelers caution about the dirtiness of hotel television remotes (suggestions include carrying a plastic bag to sheathe these button-covered germ magnets) and room coffee mugs. (Maids, the discussion-board wisdom goes, do not replace them with properly washed ones but use the towels they used to clean the toilet to swab dirty cups.)
—Allen Salkin, "Germs Never Sleep," The New York Times, November 5, 2006
Scientists have theorized that smaller families—therefore fewer siblings and fewer infections early in life—have led to increases in multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. By adding all these antigerm gels, soaps, creams, tissues and wipes, we are really trying to raise our children in an antiseptic society and this may well have its own long-term consequences for increasing the rate of autoimmune diseases.
—Ezekiel J. Emanuel, "The virtues of dirt," Chicago Tribune, June 20, 2005
Companies in the market for POTS — the industry's acronym for "plain old telephone service" — can save up to 50 percent on refurbished phone equipment. More advanced systems are available too, though the discounts aren't as deep. The telephones themselves are indistinguishable from new ones. (Anti-germ fanatics will be reassured to know the cases are replaced when the equipment is readied for resale.)
—Chris Arnold, "Recycled Phone Equipment Hypos Billion Dollar Market," Atlanta Business Chronicle, January 20, 1986
The term antigerm (or, more accurately, anti-germ, since the single-word version didn't enter the language until about 1985) has been around since at least the mid-70s, and probably longer. However, the original meaning was the more mild sense of "germ fighting" or "against germs" and was used to describe mouthwashes and the duties of hospital cleaning staffs. The new sense that I'm highlighting here refers to the more recent obsession we've developed that drives us to try and eliminate every possible germ and microbe from every possible environment.