Bacteria that can make you and your coworkers sick thrive on commonly touched surfaces in the office. You might expect bathroom surfaces to be teeming with germs, but any common area people frequent can contribute to the spread of disease. Learn about how you can protect yourself and your coworkers with the following cleanliness tips.
Break Rooms and Common Areas
Some of the dirtiest places in the workplace listed below might surprise you:
1. Faucet Handles
With everyone touching the faucet handles in your break room, office kitchen, or bathrooms, they are a breeding ground for microbes. It’s important to wash your hands, but the faucet handles in a communal setting must be regularly cleaned.
The microwave feels like a lifesaver when you want to save time on your lunch hour. So many people use the microwave several times per week, making the handle one of the germiest places at work. Occasionally sanitize the microwave’s door and handle with a wipe before using it.
The refrigerator is a feature of the office break room that is hard to go without. Unfortunately, the refrigerator’s doors are rarely cleaned, making it a common area where germs can spread.
Using a water dispenser may seem safer than tap water, but your office’s mail delivery crew touches the bottles while handling them. Everyone touches the cooler’s knob to pour water into their cups several times throughout the day. Bringing your own water bottle to work can limit your contact with germs.
5. Coffee Makers
Many of your coworkers drink coffee first thing in the morning, going directly to the office coffee maker. Since the appliance isn’t cleaned frequently, it tends to harbor more bacteria than devices that get cleaned regularly.
6. Vending Machines
Many of your workers who use the on-site vending machines open their snacks and eat them on their way back to their desks. The vending machine’s buttons and receptacle are the germiest areas and rarely get wiped down. You can limit this problem by bringing your own hand sanitizer to the office. You can also set up sanitation stations and encourage coworkers and employees to use them before grabbing a snack.
7. Sinks and Sponges
The office’s kitchen sink is usually not as clean as it looks, especially the faucet handles. The sponges used to quickly clean off dishes or wipe up spills are usually filled with bacteria. The texture of a sponge provides plenty of nooks and crannies for bacteria to seep into. When a sponge is always a little moist, some bacteria can breed more quickly. Wiping a surface with a dirty sponge that appears clean will spread bacteria around instead of cleaning the surface.
Make sure you change the office sponge at least once each week to keep the bacteria population inside to a minimum. It’s also a good idea to wipe down the entire sink before the weekend.
At the Desk
Personal workstations are also vulnerable to bacteria overgrowth. When workers are focused on completing their daily tasks, they can easily forget about cleaning up or sanitizing commonly touched surfaces. Below are some of the dirtiest parts of the workstation you should be aware of:
Personal cellphones tend to harbor an abundant number of bacteria, but a shared office phone could be even worse. Wipe down the office phone at the end of the day using a sanitizing wipe. This way the phone will be clean and ready to share in the morning.
Keyboards get dirty quickly with workers sneezing and coughing over them. Many people spend most of their workday touching the keyboard, and some might even eat lunch or snack while working. Small food particles can fall between the keys, becoming a site of rapid bacterial reproduction.
Limit your eating time around the keyboard, and stick to the break area if you can. Clean the keyboard at your personal workstation at the end of each week with a sanitary wipe while the computer is turned off. Vacuum out any food crumbs for good measure.
Along with your keyboard, touchscreen and mouse, your desk can also host a lot of bacteria — especially in the area around the keyboard where you rest your hands. Wipe your desk down at the end of the week or at least every other week to counteract this.
Throughout the Office
Other common areas where bacteria lurk include:
1. The Elevator
Elevator buttons are another high-touch surface vulnerable to bacterial overgrowth. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre conducted a study on hospital elevator buttons and found that 61% of the swabs tested had microbial growth. You can prevent the spread of bacteria in elevators by wiping down the buttons before using them.
2. The Printer and Copier
Your photocopier could easily become one of the germiest areas if it gets used frequently enough. Since the start button is one of the most bacteria-laden areas, you can limit your contact with bacteria by wiping it specifically.
Sharing pens around the office is always a help, but it’s always advisable. NSF International, a public health organization, listed pens as a common source of Staphylococcus aureus — or the bacterium that causes staph infections — in one study.
How to Maintain a Healthier, Germ-Free Office
You want your office to be up to code and sanitary, but how can you maintain a clean workplace with so many people constantly entering and leaving? Below are some sanitation tips for keeping your office free of germs and the team healthy:
- Ask employees to get involved: Your employees and coworkers can sanitize their stations and the common room occasionally to keep the workplace hygienic.
- Hire an office cleaner: A cleaning service can professionally sanitize your office using the most efficient cleaning tools for the job.
- Regularly clean shared areas: Common areas should be disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of disease. High-touch areas and floors are especially vulnerable to unwanted bacterial growth.
- Keep cleaning supplies at hand for employees: Cleaning your office space regularly is important, but supplying sanitizer and wipes can also make a big difference. Encourage employees to clean up after themselves and hang signs reminding them to wash their hands.
Hire National Janitorial Solutions for Your Office
A professional cleaning company can make your office its cleanest. We provide specialized services for your janitorial needs and will optimize your floor care, window cleanliness and other aspects of your office’s hygiene. Contact us to learn about our janitorial services.