This piece originally appeared on MyRecipes.com.
When we think of office germs, we most often hear that the dirtiest spots are located in public places like the break room (refrigerator handles, microwave handles, and the kitchen sink) and bathroom (toilet seats and bathroom door handles). But what if I told you that you could be harboring just as much (if not more) bacteria at your own desk… where plenty of us eat our lunch (if not other meals, too)?
According to The Cleaning Services Group, an average work desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat and 100 times more germs than a kitchen table.
That’s right, inside your safe, 4-walled office (or 3 walls if you’re a proud member of the Cubicle Society) lurk thousands of germs every square inch.
While our coworkers can and do spread germs around the office (not to freak you out, but only 30% of your coworkers practice clean office habits), if you’re not in the practice of sanitizing your desk area regularly, your own personal workspace is just as much of a hotspot for bacteria.
Here are the 3 dirtiest items found within the confines of your own workspace.
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Top 3 Dirtiest Items at Your Desk:
#1. Your Phone
Your cell phone and/or office phone (whichever one you use more often) contains approximately 25,127 microbes per square inch–this is 70% more bacteria than a toilet seat.
#2. Your Computer Keyboard
The average keyboard contains 3,295 microbes per square inch. The toilet seat contains just 49 microbes per square inch. BRB so I can go put on gloves while I type this. Okay, I’m back. Gross.
#3. Your Computer Mouse
The typical computer mouse contains 1,676 microbes per square inch. This is 3X more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Top 3 Tips for keeping your desk clean, avoiding bacteria, and staying healthy:
#1. Wash your hands regularly, and I mean, really wash them. Here’s how to wash your hands correctly (why, yes, I am speaking to you like a toddler): Dispense a generous amount of soap into your hand and lather it between both hands (make sure the back of your hands are covered too!) for 10-20 seconds before ever turning on the water. After you’re good and lathered, rinse off your hands with warm water for however long it takes to get all of the soap off.
#2. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk and use it in-between regular hand washes at the sink. Did you know that most hand sanitizing products are gentler on your skin than traditional bathroom soap? Now this doesn’t mean you should stop washing your hands and just use Purell, but alcohol-based sanitizers are a great, convenient way to stay germ-free throughout the day when you’re stuck at your desk or in a meeting for hours at at time.
#3. Stash disinfectant wipes in your desk drawer, briefcase, and purse, and use them daily to wipe off the items in and around your desk space that you use the most (especially the top 3 items above). If you can’t find time daily for a quick cleanup, at the very minimum you should wipe down these areas once a week. (To get into a habit, try first thing Monday morning or last thing Friday afternoon).