The restroom is the first thing that comes to mind when cleaning office buildings. But germs can also lurk in less than obvious places. Kimberly-Clark Professional™ – a company that focuses on workplace hygiene – has identified these hot spots.
Based on nearly 5,000 individual swabs in office buildings, this study revealed the five most contaminated areas:
- Break room sink faucet handles
- Microwave door handles
- Computer keyboards
- Refrigerator door handles
- Water fountain buttons
The Break Room
The break room is a breeding ground for bacteria – especially the sink and microwave. It is the dirtiest room in your office and is the central source of illness outbreaks.
What makes the break room the toughest part of cleaning office buildings?
Food is the main culprit. Bacteria can quickly spread and infect employees through hand-to-food contact. Inside the break room you will find germ magnets: sink faucet handles, microwaves, and refrigerators.
Since food is reheated and consumed in the break room, cleaning office buildings should focus on this area. Disinfectant wipes are great for removing food debris or coffee stains from surfaces and countertops.
Employees should make it a habit to wash their hands. For office managers, they should ensure that surfaces and handles are regularly and properly sanitized for workplace safety.
Computer Keyboard and Mouse
Your hands touch the keyboard and mouse almost the entire work shift. One study found keyboards to have 3,295 bacteria per square inch while a mouse has 1,676 germs. In contrast, the office toilet seat only has about 50 per square inch!
You not only leave dead skin cells on your input devices. You probably eat on it, spill drinks on it, and sneeze on it. And you never pay attention to it when cleaning your desk. If you must share your cubicle with a co-worker, you even multiply those morsels, oil and grime.
Drinking Fountain Buttons
The combination of dirty hands and spit is a disease outbreak waiting to happen. In a study in Denver, researchers found that drinking fountains were a common source of rotavirus and influenza. This was especially true in the public library, bus terminal, and State Capitol. You can protect yourself by letting the water run for about five seconds before taking a sip. Also, make sure you wash your hands after drinking from a fountain.
Your office desk is home to about 10 million germs – or 400 times more than a toilet seat. Your office telephone may be even worse, with an average of 25,000 germs per square inch.
Germs love food, so avoid eating at your desk. You should also wipe down your phone handset with sanitizer especially if you share it with your team.
Keeping your desk clean can save you lots of time on sick leave or running to the bathroom.
In a busy office building, thousands of fingers press the elevator buttons every day. So, they have more bacteria and viruses than other places. Give your hands a quick wash with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer after an elevator ride.
CBS News conducted an experiment with a nontoxic tracer virus on a single doorknob in an average-sized office. After only four hours, 60% of doorknobs, light switches, telephones, computers, and work areas were immediately contaminated. Now imagine if that tracer virus was a lethal and highly contagious virus that’s resistant to antiseptics.
Like elevator buttons, door handles go through a massive number of hands. Everyone touches them to get in and out of the office. When you touch surfaces and then touch your mouth, you make yourself vulnerable to infection. Prevent germs from spreading by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
The restroom is another germ magnet – toilets, faucets, and even the hand dryer are prone to fecal contamination.
The key to protecting yourself is washing your hands properly. You could hold a paper towel in your hand when turning the faucet. Scrub your hands and nails for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.
Germs can hide around the buttons of a printer, photocopier, fax machine, or postage meter. Do not take these devices for granted. Clean them with sanitizing wipes before each use.
Wet and absorbent, the kitchen sponge is the perfect tool for collecting and harboring germs. Brand new sponges are contaminated with E. coli and salmonella in just three weeks! You can try microwaving the sponge for two minutes in order to kill these germs. And replace all sponges every two weeks.
While water in office dispensers is assumed to be safer than tap water, the containers are not. They collect germs during transport and delivery, which then spread when people touch the cooler. To avoid getting sick during flu season, it is best to bring your own water.
The damp and dark interior of these machines is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Meanwhile, the pot and handle are touched by several people who make coffee several times a day.
Wash the pot daily. To clean the coffee machine, fill it with plain white vinegar and let it stand for 30 minutes. Then let it run through cycles of water until you don’t smell the vinegar.
Cleaning Office Buildings Should Keep You Safe
Invisible germs may be hard to spot but it doesn’t mean you cannot be safe. Disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers can go a long way in reducing your risk of infection.
Do your part in keeping germs at bay while waiting for the cleaning staff to perform their duties.
Cleaning office buildings is our specialty at Prestige Property Services. From reception to restrooms, we have the resources and expertise to get any cleaning job done. Give us a call at 714-224-0301 to find out how we can help your business.