When we’re at home we have more control over what we are exposed to, whether it’s viruses and colds or germs and general dirt. We can take the hoover from the closet and run it over the carpet, we can dust and polish the living room and bedrooms and we can wash the kitchen floors. It’s easy to do and although most of us probably wouldn’t class it as our favourite activity, we do it because it keeps things clean.
Recent studies show that there are more bacteria on several household items than in your toilet. A keyboard carries 5 times as much bacteria as a toilet seat which is shocking considering how many of us now use computers on a day to day basis. Keyboards aren’t the only facilitator of germs, with items including mobile phones, kitchen sponges used for washing up and remote controls all responsible for housing millions of bacteria. All around the home we are at risk from bacteria in some form or another but thanks to advanced cleaning products and constant cleaning we are able to live with it. But when it comes to a work environment such as an office, it is even more frightening how exposed we are to germs every day. We don’t always have the time or luxury to start cleaning as we would at home, or to dust and polish to a high standard. Therefore we are more at risk during working hours than we are at home.
So what should we be aware of whilst at work and how can we reduce the exposure we have to germs on a day to day basis?
Microwave door handles carry thousands of germs and bacteria. This isn’t good, firstly because not only are they usually in a kitchen where there is food but also, people are using the door frequently at lunch times and so constantly touching the handle and buttons. By using a paper towel or better still, wiping the handle with a fresh hot cloth would greatly reduce the amount of bacteria present.
Toilet Sink Handles
This one is a particularly tricky germ-spreader because of the nature of its location. When finishing with the toilet most people wash their hands by using the faucets provided. But after washing your hands with soap and warm water, ridding most of the possible germs, you then use the tap again to turn it off. This is where the germs spread. It’s a vicious cycle but usually providing you’ve cleaned your hands thoroughly, germs will be minimal (if you use one finger to turn it off, for example). A better solution would be to dry your hands after turning the tap off and then using a sanitiser gel to stave off those germs.
Vending Machine Buttons
This is one of the biggest germ-spreading culprits in an office environment, mainly because it’s the least likely of all items on this list to be cleaned on any regular basis, if even at all during its lifetime. You never see anyone taking a cleaning cloth or duster to a vending machine button panel. Your solution could be to either use a pen to operate the control panel or alternatively, wash your hands after you have used the machine.
The most commonly used item at a desk (except maybe the mouse) the keyboard has the most use during the day and therefore suffers the consequences because of it. Your fingers touch your face, you then touch the keyboard. You eat or drink, you then touch the keyboard. If you sneeze, your keyboard bears the brunt of it. They get a lot of abuse, even from people who are super-clean conscious and take care to use sanitiser gels and wash their hands regularly. It just can’t be avoided but you can help yourself by using a cleaning spray to clean your keyboard daily (or at least every other day) and then give your surrounding equipment a wipe over too.
The monitor, although not exactly something that is constantly handled (unless you are using a touchscreen) still attracts germs in the form of airborne bacteria from everything else going on in the office, as well as pointing fingers on the screen itself. Despite being irritating and annoying when people poke at your screen, the bigger concern is that they are spreading their germs directly onto your desk. You could ask people to not touch the screen but a more diplomatic solution would be to use monitor wipes which are alcohol free and won’t damage the screen. These are great for TVs, phones and any mobile device you may be using.
The button which is pushed to activate the fountain, as well as the fountain area itself can be a hotbed for germs. The common factor is of course the button which everyone throughout the day would use, clean hands or not. Drinking fountains are just not that hygienic, so where possible, fill up a glass instead!
These are the most common germ-spreaders in the office but as you can imagine there are many more from pencils to telephones and books to desk fans. Prevention is not 100% possible but by using sanitiser gels throughout the day and cleaning your desk and equipment regularly, it should help to at least reduce the risk of being affected by bacteria-related illnesses.
Charlie works on behalf of Stadar Cleaning, a commercial cleaning service provider and is a self-confessed cleaning fan. He loves to keep things tidy and in order and a clean house every few days in an absolute must.