Over half of Britons think money is the filthiest item they touch and their fears are founded, according to new research.
Out of 1,000 Europeans surveyed by MasterCard, 83% believe handling cash is dirty while 54% of Britons think escalator handrails and library books are cleaner than money.
On average, European banknotes and coins contain 26,000 bacteria while UK currency has 18,200 bacteria. New currency only has 2,400 bacteria.
Ian Thompson, Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford University, said: "Brits' perceptions of dirty cash are not without reason. The euros we tested harboured an average of 11,000 bacteria, which, for a number of pathogenic organisms, is sufficient for passing on infection.
"Previous studies of bank notes have indicated contamination with potentially harmful bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter species which can cause disease in humans.
"Increasingly antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are a threat, a point recently raised by Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England.
"With banknotes passing between so many individuals there is merit in a wider study tracking the spread of resistant strains through movement of banknotes globally."
The dirtiest currency was the Denmark krone which has 40,226 bacteria followed by Sweden's krona with 39,600. The euro was the cleanest currency with only 11,600 bacteria.
Marion King, MasterCard president of the UK & Ireland Division, said: "83% of Europeans believe that handling cash is dirty and that it contains bacteria. It is a commonly held view in Europe and in the UK that relative to other daily objects, cash is by far the most dirty.
"For a significant amount of people it's interesting to see a majority of Europeans prefer paying by card and find it a simpler, more straightforward way of paying. It's now true to say that the majority also find it more hygienic."