61% of elevator buttons sampled showed microbiological growth, compared to 43% of toilet surfaces, in a study performed in....a hospital, according to the Open Medicine Journal. Per the article, "Bacteria cultured from the elevator buttons and toilet surfaces included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, coliform (or bowel) bacteria, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas...". Not the stuff I'd want on MY elevator button.
In doing commercial janitorial (and not just in health care facilities), we've long stressed the importance of touch-point sanitation, including areas like door push bars and elevator buttons. Our standard touch-point protocal involves a microfiber cloth saturated in a hydrogen-peroxide sanitizer. The HP is both an effective cleaner and sanitizer; the microfiber is a good cleaner, even with plain water, and because it both scrubs the dangerous critters from the surface, and hangs onto them, one could almost consider the microfiber a sanitizer as well. Combined, hydrogen peroxide and microfiber become quite the effective sanitation team.
However, we also realize that the very best cleaned and sanitized surface will find itself violated by the first grubby digit with which it comes in contact. So clean hands ought be a no-braine r.
Likewise, the article advocates using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the elevator button, or using one's elbow, or a pen, to push the button (this assumes that you don't chew the end of your pen), and educating the public about the importance of hand sanitation.
Finally, “We were surprised by the frequency of bacterial colonization on the elevator buttons, but we were also struck by how easily it could be avoided, specifically by the use of good hand washing or hand hygiene,” says co-author Dr. Andrew Simor, chief, department of microbiology and infectious diseases at Sunnybrook."
It's not rocket science.