Every office has employees who work while sick. They come into the office, sneezing and coughing, spreading cold or flu germs to others. If you can’t convince them to stay home, learn the dirtiest places in the workplace and keep them clean with these tips.
The Seven Dirtiest Places in an Office
Kimberly-Clark, makers of Kleenex and other products, performed a study in 2012 of hotspots where germs can lurk. In the study, Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona, found the percentage of office surfaces tested and found to have high levels of contamination included:
- 75 percent of break room sink faucet handles
- 48 percent of microwave door handles
- 27 percent of keyboards
- 26 percent of refrigerator door handles
- 23 percent of water fountain buttons
- 21 percent of vending machine buttons
Computer mice and desk phones also showed significant levels of contamination.
“People are aware of the risk of germs in the restroom, but areas like break rooms have not received the same degree of attention,” said Dr. Gerba. “This study demonstrates that contamination can be spread throughout the workplace when office workers heat up lunch, make coffee or simply type on their keyboards.”
How to Sanitize Common Office Surfaces
Wiping down surfaces with soap and water may get them clean, but the simple solution does not kill germs. To sanitize common hard surfaces regularly touched throughout the workday, such as countertops, sinks and door handles, do this daily:
- Mix ¾ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water
- Dip a paper towel or cloth into the solution, then wring out excess
- Wipe down surfaces, leaving no spot unsanitized
- Let the solution sit for five minutes
- Dip a paper towel or cloth in water, then wring out excess
- Rinse the surfaces
This will kill 99% of household — and those found in most offices — germs. During cold and flu season, you also can follow up throughout the day with a sanitizing wipe. In fact, keep a package of wipes in your desk drawer and leave them out in common areas such as a break room for best results.
How to Sanitize Your Work Space
According to another study by Dr. Gerba, a typical desk can support up to 10 million bacteria — that’s 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat. His research found 25,127 germs in an average square inch on the receiver of telephones and 20,961 germs on desktops. Keyboards supported 3,295 germs per square inch.
Follow the instructions above to sanitize your workspace, especially if you share with another shift. Your keyboard requires special care, as you can’t simply wipe it down and expect to get every nook and cranny. Do this:
- Turn your keyboard upside down over a trashcan and shake out any debris.
- Use compressed air to dislodge anything remaining.
- Soak a cotton swab in the bleach solution and wipe down the keys and surrounding areas.
For more tips on how to how to clean your office tools, check out the previous Molly Maid post: Office Cleaning Tips | How to Clean a Keyboard, Computer Monitor and Mouse.
Other Ways to Stop the Spread of Germs
You also might want to share these two other posts with everyone at the office to reduce the risk of colds and flues infecting everyone:
How to Stop Spreading Germs at Work During Cold/Flu Season — The practices outlined here help those who work sick to reduce the risk of spreading germs.
How to Boost Your Immune System During Cold and Flu Season — This post offers advice that will help you get through the season without getting sick.
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