Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, pay special attention to your workspace
Close-knit workplaces are great places for germs and illness to flourish. This week a Seoul call center announced that 40 agents had contracted the novel coronavirus. In close quarters, bacteria can quickly spread from coughs, sneezes, and sharing work equipment.
Whether you work in an office building or at home, your desk is harboring germs that could make you sick. Take notice of these top germy offenders and stop them from spreading.
For comparison, some well-known germy places (surprise, it’s not the toilet seat at only 295 bacteria per square inch) are kitchen drains with 567,845 bacteria per square inch and the bathroom faucet handle at 6,267 bacteria per square inch.
1. Desktop (20,961 bacteria/square inch)
Your desk sees a lot of action in a day – finger tapping, coffee spills, snacks. It’s where my palms rest as I type this. Every germ-laden item in the workspace touches the desktop. Also, it is one of the easiest things to clean!
How to clean it: Frequent cleaning with a disinfectant wipe or towel with soapy water will keep your workspace looking spick and span. It also helps keep clutter off your desk. Don’t give bacteria random places to congregate!
2. Keyboard and Mouse (3,295 and 1,676 bacteria/square inch, respectively)
Those germs on your hands easily transfer to the welcoming surface of your keyboard and mouse. As you are clicking away on an email, bacteria are relocating to the keys and finding a comfortable place to reside – for hours to days! What can make it worse? Eating at your desk allows bacteria-loving crumbs to settle in as well.
How to clean: Use sanitizing wipes or a microfiber towel to wipe the keyboard and mouse. Use canned air every other week to get those stubborn lunch and snack crumbs on their way.
3. Head/ telephone (25,127 bacteria/square inch)
Telephones and headsets put bacteria in dangerous proximity to your eyes, nose, and mouth. Since these are common ways for germs to enter your body, it’s best to keep the germs as far away as possible.
How to clean it: Dampen a microfiber towel with soapy water and give your headset and telephone a good wipe. Use a q-tip to get the nooks and crannies. Wipe your headset down at least once a day, but feel free to do it every time you take off your headset.
4. Water bottle (123,000 bacteria/square inch)
Would you rather drink from your reusable water bottle or your dog’s bowl? The right answer may surprise you. It turns out that a reusable water bottle on your desk is likely harboring an average of more than 123,000 bacteria per square inch, compared to 18,000 in your pet bowl. Many people only rinse their bottles since they are only drinking water. However, they forget about the bacteria that is transferred from their mouth. Mold and mildew are obvious signs that your bottle needs a deep clean, but hundreds of thousands of dangerous microbes are not noticeable.
How to clean it: Daily cleaning with soap or diluted bleach should do the trick – yes, even if you are just drinking water. Don’t forget to scrub the straw and consider stainless steel instead of a plastic one.
*Important note* Water coolers are easy ways to transfer these germs if the top of the bottle touches the water spout. Regularly wipe down water coolers with sanitizing wipes or soapy towels.
5. Cell phone (25,000 bacteria/ square inch)
The average American touches their phone more than 50 times a day. These beloved devices are often near our faces, giving eager bacteria easy entry points into our bodies. Worse, cell phones travel with us everywhere – from our cars to our beds – spreading germs to everyone.
How to clean it: Most manufacturers recommend regularly using a soft lens cloth to clean your phone; however, directions may vary depending on your model. Some phones can be cleaned with alcohol or sanitizing wipes, but you should consult your cellphone manufacturer recommendations first.
Germs are all around us and, in many cases, unavoidable. Bacteria are not always dangerous, but viruses (like the coronavirus and the flu) and other bacterial infections can be bad news. Don’t let germs have the upper hand. Give your immune system a break and maintain proper hygiene by washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and cleaning germy areas.
Now, get cleaning!