Germs, Your Office, and You


Not exactly the stuff one likes to think about is it? But as cold and flu season approaches, it might be helpful to pay attention to the places in your office where germs tend to congregate. Reader beware, though, there is a yuck factor involved that might cause even the most cringe resistant among us to react just a little.

Let’s get that part out-of-the-way first. There are typically far more germs found on one’s desk than on the seat of an office toilet. Thousands more.

And that cell phone that you basically take with you everywhere? Make that a subway toilet.

Your desk is even worse. It can potentially harbor up to 10 million bacteria, some of which typically originate from human waste.

I’ll wait until the collective “ews” subside.

Custodians usually clean common areas and bathrooms, excluding desks and office equipment due to the risk of potentially misplacing items or otherwise changing anything that might have a potentially negative effect. Consequently, it’s up to you to ensure that your personal office space is as risk free as possible, a task that’s fortunately readily accomplished, especially due to the advent of disinfecting cleaning wipes.

Simply grab a disposable cleaning cloth or alcohol pad – or two – or eventually many – and eliminate potentially harmful viruses and bacteria.

Common germ incubators include:

  • Writing utensils. Give your pens, pencils and highlighters a wipe.
  • Telephone and cell phone.
  • Desk surface. If you typically eat at your desk, you’ll need to do this more often.
  • Computer monitor on / off switch.
  • Your keyboard. The numbers of bacteria on it? Staggering. Turn it upside down first, shake, then set right again and wipe the keys.
  • Light switches.
  • Chair arms.
  • Door knobs.
  • Desk and storage drawer knobs and pulls.
  • Computer mouse.
  • Buttons on shared equipment: printer, fax machine, copier.

Also take your coffee mug and / or glass home each day, run it through the dishwasher, then bring it back the next morning with your favorite beverage or brew. 

Of course, practicing good hygiene is the best way to avoid illness.  Done properly, simple hand-washing with warm, soapy water successfully eliminates most viruses and bacteria.  When away from the office or home, an alcohol-based cleanser or wipe is equally effective. 

Here’s to a cold and virus free winter for all of us!

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