During a normal working week, office workers spend an average of 5 hours and 41 minutes per day at their desks.1 With so much time spent typing at a keyboard, talking on the phone and even eating and drinking within our work environment, our work space very quickly becomes susceptible to stain and odor-causing microbes.
Office items such as keyboards, the computer mouse and even the office pens are not cleaned as often as they should be. Not only does this create an unsanitary environment to work in, but due to the congested space within an office, it also makes it easier for microbes to thrive.
In this blog, we explain which areas of your office are susceptible to microbial contamination, and offer our advice on how to keep your workstation fresh and clean.
The average computer office mouse is three times dirtier than a typical toilet seat4, carrying up to 1,676 microbes per square inch3. Due to the amount of contact it has with our hands, and considering that our hands are the main offenders when it comes to spreading germs and microbes, it’s important to clean these pieces of equipment.
Sterilizing a computer mouse can be trickier than it sounds. You can purchase a computer mouse which has Microban antimicrobial technology built into it, from the likes of Fellowes. This technology inhibits microbial growth on the surface of the mouse, and this helps to keep it fresher and cleaner for longer.
With a staggering 75% of US office workers eating lunch at their desk2, it is no surprise that the average desk surface is contaminated with over 20,961 microbes per square inch3. Accidental drink spillages and food debris can encourage stain and odor-causing microbes to develop, resulting in an unhygienic work station.
To minimize the microbial growth, we suggest keeping a pack of antimicrobial wipes in your drawer so that you can give your desk a quick wipe on days in which you need to work through your lunch. Alternatively, you should try to eat lunch away from your desk. Not only is it more sanitary, but it is also much healthier for you to have a break away from your screen.
When we start to feel tired at work, grabbing a cup of coffee is a great way to re-energize. Rather than just sipping a nice hot coffee however, you could be ingesting other nasty microbes too. One study found that 20% of office mugs contain fecal matter, while a further 90% are covered in other microbes thought to be transmitted through unclean dish sponges when washing up5.
In order to ensure that your office mug is clean and microbe-free, we suggest either washing it in a dishwasher, or simply bringing your own dish cloth to work and washing your mug thoroughly with hot soapy water. That way, you can know for sure that your mug has been cleaned properly.
Computer keyboards will commonly collect dead skin cells, food debris and dust, making them a prime location for microbes to grow. In fact, because they are so rarely cleaned, the average keyboard contains up to 3,295 microbes per square inch3.
You can use rubbing alcohol and a cotton bud to tackle the build-up of gunk6. A can of compressed air can also help to blow out all of the crumbs and debris from between the keys. However, for maximum protection, we’d recommend you consider purchasing a keyboard that is equipped with Microban antimicrobial additives. This gives the keyboard a long-lasting antimicrobial protection that cannot be washed off and does not wear away, and will last the useful lifetime of the product.
With 25,127 microbes per square inch3, the office phone is by far the worst offender for microbial growth in the work space. Due to the touching of the buttons with our hands, and placing our mouths to the receiver, and with so many different people doing just that, an office phone can potentially be susceptible to all kinds of viruses7.
As flu virus microbes are able to survive on surfaces for up to two or three days7, regular sanitization of your office phone is essential. Simply wiping the phone with an antimicrobial wipe could help to keep germs at bay and prevent illness from spreading around the office.
Office pens are passed from person to person and touched by lots of hands on a daily basis. Not only does this mean that they become easily contaminated, but it also means that microbes are transmitted between work colleagues too.
With the average pen containing up to 2,350 microbes per square inch8, simply using your own pen can help minimize the chances of microbes spreading.