How clean is your office? (Part 1)

How clean is your office?: Do you really want to know?

How clean is your office? Read on to find out. There is so much to say on the matter, that we have a 2 part blog for you!

What bacteria do you find in the office? What are the worst offending places for germs and how they spread?

Then have a second part on how bacteria can affect you in the workplace and what we can do about it.


Bacteria in the office.

In any speck of dust, there are millions of bacteria but not all are harmful.

Some bacteria are the kinds used for fighting infection, not creating it.

However there are a number of potentially quite damaging bacteria that you can find. These include E.coli and the norovirus.

One of the most commonly found bacteria is staphylococcus aureus, also known simply as ‘staph’. Staph is found in nasal membranes, skin and hair follicles and can cause a wide range of infections including serious illnesses such as pneumonia.

In extensive studies of bacteria in the workplace, the worst offending areas for germs in an office have been revealed.

No huge surprises as to which places come out top. However, it might be surprising to know the cleanest areas…

  • Phone – This is the most unhygienic piece of office equipment that you’ll find. It’s held directly up against your mouth and rarely disinfected. This leaves the average office phone with a whopping 25,127 bacteria per surface.
  • Top of the Desk – Coming in a close second with 20,961 bacteria per surface. Apparently ladies are the worst perpetrators; “Women tend to be at their desks longer than men, and they tend to keep a lot more things on their desktops, too,” says Donna Duberg. When left uncleaned, snacks, magazines, photos of the kids, and plants become a “buffet of bacteria”.
  • Keyboard – Gerba suggests that the average keyboard has around 3,295 bacteria per surface. Microbiologist Dr Wilson comments that a keyboard is frequently, “a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut.” Try tipping your keyboard upside down on a white piece of paper to see what visible bacteria harbouring offenders fall out. We bet things like crumbs, bits of paper, hairs, staples, dead skin and maybe even the odd dead insect will drop out!
  • Mouse – Getting marginally cleaner, but still highly unhygienic is the computer mouse with 1,676 bacteria on average per surface.
  • Copy Machine – Just one touch of a button can leave behind around 301 bacteria ready to be picked up by the next user.
  • Men’s Toilet Seat – You’d presume this was up there with the most bacteria per surface? No. The toilet seats in the men’s cubicles carry on average only 49 bacteria per surface. Significantly cleaner than most of the items on your desk!



Another recent study by Gerba, shows just how quickly harmful bacteria can spread around the workplace.

After placing a ‘fake’ virus on just a couple of surfaces, the bacteria had spread to 40-60% of office surfaces within just 2 -4 hours.

This included light switches, table tops, coffee-pot handles, sink tap handles, doorknobs, and phone and computer equipment.

If that were the norovirus, a lot of office workers would be taking sick leave… A grim discovery indeed!

So not only are our desks and workspaces contaminated with potentially damaging bacteria and viruses, the spread of these viruses is so rapid that it’s almost impossible to contain, unless of course you employ a professional office cleaning service who can advise on these issues.

A daily professional clean will help reduce the spread of bacteria and keep a happier, healthier workplace and workforce.

Watch out for the second part of our blog for more information on how we can reduce the spread of bacteria in the workplace and what happens if we don’t.