Is your office a toilet?

You’d think break rooms and bathrooms would be the germ hotspots in an office, and you’d be right. But your personal work space, even the candy bowl on your desk, can be a bit of a toilet too.

In 2005, University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Chuck Gerba conducted an on-site study of the germs in one downtown Manhattan publishing office, and he found some pretty bad actors in the most unlikely places.[1]

One of those unlikely places was the candy dish on Heather Wright’s desk, where Gerba found an intestinal bacteria called coliform, usually found in human waste. In fact, Wright’s little cubicle, the social hub of the office apparently, had coliform here, there, and everywhere. “Her [computer] mouse has about a hundred times more bacteria than a toilet seat,” Gerba said.

But Wright’s office wasn’t the only germ sinkhole in the building. Any public hangout or shared equipment is bound to be crawling with bacteria—the printer button, the elevator button, door handles, even your keyboard and pens and pencils. Yuck.

We hope your public spaces aren’t covered in bacteria like coliform, but to stay healthy, here are some precautions everyone in the office should take:

  1. Avoid setting out candy bowls and other communal treat dishes.
  2. Wash your hands frequently and every time you use the bathroom. According to the CDC, you should wash your hands with hot or cold water, and be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, then dry with a clean towel or air dry.[2]
  3. Clean your work space well at the end of the day and after your co-workers have stopped by for a visit. Don’t forget to clean your mouse and keyboard. Clorox wipes are good for this job.
  4. Routinely disinfect your entire office, especially work areas and equipment that everyone uses, with products that kill germs below the surface.

Ketchum Building Services uses a disinfectant product approved by the CDC to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses commonly found in hospitals, including influenza and MRSA.


[1] “What Germs are Lurking in Your Office?” ABC News, April 30, 2005. Online.
[2] “Wash Your Hands.” CDC Features. Online.

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