With millions of people working in offices for an average of 8 hours a day, it is incredibly important to maintain a high level of cleanliness in this environment to avoid any nasty bugs getting into your system. Unfortunately, office germs can be hiding in a lot of places – these are the 7 dirtiest areas for most offices.
Get rid of the office germs, and here’s why
So, here’s why you ought to care about what are the icky places in your office as much as you do when cleaning at home, and what to do about it.
Falling ill does not only take its toll on our bodies but is also a huge inconvenience. Recent data from The ONS reveals a shocking increase of 12 million sick days taken for preventable illness since 2011 in the UK, costing businesses millions financially. The risk of catching preventable illnesses, such as colds and flu, can dramatically reduce with proper hygiene maintenance in the workplace.
GCC Facilities Management recently conducted a study to see how often common office items are cleaned, and the full results can be seen here. They want to reflect on the importance of office cleanliness and how many employers are failing their employees by not providing adequate workspaces for team members’ physical and mental health.
Your workspace may look clean, however, many office items are neglected in the daily cleaning routines and so they’re still dirty even after a general clean of the area. Unfortunately, employees can forget about these 7 particular items and leave them to fester with bacteria.
Below is a list of the dirtiest items in your office, many of which you may have never thought to clean. Perhaps after reading this, you’ll be more likely to reach for the anti-bacterial spray.
7 places with office germs:
1. The water cooler
Many of us methodically scrutinize shared office items, such as mugs and plates before we even consider using them. There’s always at least one person in the office who avoids all these items completely and brings in their own silverware in fear of communal items.
We all understand the want for clean and sanitary drinkware. After all, it will have direct contact with our mouths and whatever we are consuming for lunch or another time of day.
But did you know that, on average, the dirtiest item in your office isn’t those drab mugs that have been there for half a century? No, it’s actually the source of your hydration!
The average water spigot (the bit the water comes out from) contains 2.7 million germs per square inch.
So, the next time you go to get yourself a glass, perhaps you’ll think twice about the water cooler and opt for the tap instead.
2. The fridge
Very few of us will ever have the luxury of saying we don’t fear the office fridge. Unfortunately, it is essential for our lunches and that all-important milk for coffee or tea during break time.
But with so many people using the office fridge and none of those users believing fridge maintenance is their responsibility, it spends most of its life as a place of disgust. Dripping containers of questionable leftovers and expired yogurts are almost a tradition in the office fridge and this results in more germs than you want to know are there.
To keep away the office germs, clear out the fridge and wipe it down every two days. Unfortunately, it’s pretty safe to say few of us have ever witnessed this rare sight.
3. The microwave
The average office microwave is used countless times a day and you can’t keep track of what is heated up. Meat and dairy dish particles can be left within the appliance, even if you can’t see them.
Office germs (and any other ones, for that matter) love warm places, it helps them multiply, and nowhere is warmer than the microwave.
Have you ever witnessed your office microwave being cleaned? No, not a quick wipe when someone spills food, but a real scrub and disinfection instead?
Forbes reported that just the microwave door handle has a 48% higher bacteria count than other office surfaces. Ack!
4. Your desk
It’s where you spend most of your time but your desk could be making you sick. The average desk has about 10 million germs, explains SWNS Digital, which is 400 times more than a toilet seat!
Even if you aren’t ill, items that have passed hands from those carrying cold and flu bugs can be placed on our desks and live on hard surfaces for months. GCCFM’s study showed 11% of office workers have never cleaned their office desk.
5. The computer mouse
It’s the next logical item after the desk itself. You likely touch the computer mouse hundreds of times a day and how often do you clean it?
Sweat, food particles, and dust love living on these mice. There are 1,676 bacteria per square inch on these little things, as per SWNS Digital.
And very few people wash their hands after contact. Just wiping these down once a daily with an antibacterial wipe can make a huge difference.
Just like your computer mouse, the keyboard is a surface you touch many times throughout the day. But with even more cracks and crevices than mice, there is plenty of places for office germs to hide within keyboards.
What will really make you shudder is this next dirty statistic. The average keyboard contains almost three times the bacteria than a public toilet seat!
Considering you would never think about touching a public toilet seat with your bare hands, why are so many people doing so with keyboards on such a frequent basis?
You might be lucky enough to have your own personal phone on your desk, meaning the majority of bacteria will be that of your own but this phone can still be festering with filth.
If you have a shared office phone, you are exposing yourself to even more germs. Not only do your hands hold this item, but your mouth also comes close to it frequently, so even those who regularly wash their hands can spread and expose themselves to illnesses.
After reading this list, you’ll probably get up now to clean your phone as part of a healthy office plan. After all, who knows what could be lurking on the handset.
What to do now? Office germs conclusions
So, the next time someone in your office appears ill or you are showing symptoms, take the time to really scrub and wipe down these items. We understand that employees are busy at work and often don’t have time or even forget to do so.
Hiring professional cleaners can make a huge difference; not only do they take away this arduous task but they come with more knowledge and better supplies to really get the job done.
If cleaners are not in your budget, you can always consider rotas between the workforce or even allocated times to have a really deep clean. Unfortunately, even if you keep on top of your personal spaces, if others aren’t, you can still be exposed to these nasty bugs.
16 thoughts on “Office germs, yuck! The 7 dirtiest items in your office”
I need to have a tidy desk to be able to work productively. I’m in my own office, finally, a room of my own :) I have colour coded microfibre cloths and a spray bottle with distilled water, isopropyl alcohol and a drop of fragrance-free dish soap. For cleaning my hands and germy items, i use fragrance free hand sanitiser. isopropyl Alcohol really helps with things touched regularly. And i catch bugs far too easily not to use sanitiser—i make it myself in a foam pump dispenser, it saves money too x
You make your own sanitizer? Wow, that’s great. Thanks for sharing your tips, Mischa!
I always have anti-bacterial wipes in my purse. Great post! <3
I use to clean my entire desk area and everything on it.
That’s the way to stay in best health! Great that you did a thorough desk clean, Kev.
I like a clean work space.
Water cooler is not a shocker to me, but this can be avoided, by making sure the cleaner wipes this down daily. I including the nozzle, if on view.
As a cleaner myself, this is something I have had to do on a daily basis, with its own colour coded cloth and sanitising spray thats appropriate for the job. This doesn’t just get done on my shift, but will get done earlier in the day. So as long as this is being done, the right way, then there is nothing to worry about. And I drink from water coolers when in the area to access one with my water bottle.
It sounds like you’re doing a thorough job – and that’s terrific to hear for those places you clean, Liz. Well done.
Some of these are obvious, but some, like the water cooler nozzle, are a bit of a shocker.
That one surprised me too, Robbie.
This is one of the reasons I am thankful, that all those germs are invisible to the naked eye. Otherwise every day would be a nightmare😂
lol, reason why I keep hand sanitizer at the office and use always when I return back to my desk, along with cleaning where I sit on a regular with disinfectant wipes…
Yes, that’s the part – invisible!