A lot of us make sure that our homes are always kept clean, tidy and free from germs – but what about the place we spend around 40 hours a week in, the office?
The web has dug deep to uncover the dirtiest items in our workplace – and the list will leave you reaching for the hand sanitiser.
It includes the obvious items like your computer mouse and keyboard, as well as unexpected entries like headphones and communal pens that can find their way into absent minded co-workers’ mouths…
1. Water cooler
The prime opportunity to sneak away from your desk and catch up on office politics, but a known magnet for gathering all kinds of nasty bacteria.
There are 2.7 million germs per square inch on the average water spigot, according to the Public Health Organisation.
2. Office fridge
Home to dripping take-away containers, mouldy yoghurt pots and furry sandwiches.
Bacteria thrives in such an environment and an office fridge should be cleared out every two days – especially when the average fridge contains 7,850 bacteria colony-forming units per square centimetre.
Depending on the size of your office, the microwave can be used up to 30 times each day, harbouring a combination of meat and vegetable particles, and creating a nest for bacteria.
Germs need warmth, food and moisture to multiply, and allowing the internal top to be splattered with food particles can cause a potential health risk.
4. Soap dispenser
You’ve downed your morning coffee, gone for a bathroom break and washed your hands with the soap dispenser. However, you would be wise to be wary of just how dirty the dispensers can be.
A study by the University of Arizona found that a quarter of office dispensers are contaminated with faecal bacteria. If you wash your hands thoroughly, that’s fine.
However, many people do not and therefore leave themselves vulnerable to infection.
5. Your desk
With more than 10 million germs to be found on the average work desk, it accommodates 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
To keep your workspace clean and healthy, wipe down weekly with an antibacterial wipe or vinegar-based solution.
6. Your keyboard
Keyboards are notorious for harbouring bacteria, especially as we press every single key continuously for up to 8 hours each day.
Skin cells, food residue and sweat mature and spread in such a small space comparatively. with more than 3,295 bacteria per square inch, shake and wipe down your keyboard weekly with a slightly damp cloth.
7. Your mouse
Given that your hand can be placed on a mouse for up to 8 hours each day, they are heavily exposed to bacteria generated from sweat, food particles and dust.
With 10% of office workers admitting to never cleaning their mouse, a study found that they can contain up to 1,676 microbes per square inch, a lavatory seat has only a fraction of that number!
8. Printer and copier
With everyone battling it out to get their copies printed on time, the average printer and copier machine is touched up to 300 times a day – especially the interface and touchpad.
This makes it a key nesting ground for nasty bacteria. Simply wipe over the surface and keypad with a PC wipe before each use.
9. Your headphones
It’s common to see colleagues sharing headphones, but before each use, but it would be wise to find your own and store them for future use.
Bacteria spreads like wildfire thanks to hair fibres, sweat and earwax, potentially causing facial and ear rashes as well as lice. After one hour of use, bacteria and germs can increase 700 times!
10. Chewing your pens
Again, transfer is the huge problem to the nervous habit of chewing pens or pencils. The pen has been touching germy hands all day – perhaps that were not your own.
Chewing on a pen will therefore transfer bacteria and nasty germs to your mouth and, with 1 in 5 office workers admitting to chewing on their pens, you probably want to avoid borrowing one from your colleague!