As I write this, I am coming off of a week-long bout of flu, and since none of my friends will admit to more than a mild cold I can only assume I caught it the way most New Yorkers catch the flu: by riding in one of those underground germ-boxes we call a subway. So I am very, very intrigued by Cyclean, a (hypothetical) self-disinfecting handle for buses and trains. (No, I really am very intrigued! I just don’t have the energy to lift my head up all the way.)

Cyclean, which won a 2014 Red Dot Design award, was conceived as an alternative to the bars and straps we normally put our grubby mitts all over in the subway, which — sorry — are so encrusted with invisible grime that it doesn’t bear thinking about. Before you grab hold of the strap on a Cyclean, you can rotate it through a plastic chamber that contains cleaning and disinfecting solution. Then, after you leave, the next commuter can rotated the strap through the cleaner again, and so on ad infinitum, or until the solution needs to be replaced. (That part alone, unfortunately, probably means this isn’t a feasible solution for New York. Can you imagine the MTA actually managing to keep thousands of little disinfectant containers filled?)


Of course, Cyclean wouldn’t keep other subway riders from sneezing germs into your face. But at least you could be assured that, of all the disgusting things touching your face and body over the course of a day, at least this one inch-wide strip would be clean.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.