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Sick at Work? How to Prevent Germs From Spreading in Your Office Cubicle & Desk

By Heather Levin

germs in cubicleHave you ever given much thought to your cubicle at work? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “no.” You go to work, do your thing, and then come home.

Well, that desk you sit at and eat at every day is probably one of the germiest, dirtiest things you come into contact with on a regular basis. Think I’m kidding? According to Discovery Health, the average desk contains about 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.

If you think that sounds far-fetched, it’s not. The reason why your desk is so full of germs and bacteria is because it rarely get cleaned like public areas do. Office cleaning teams wipe down common areas like the kitchen and public bathrooms, usually following some sort of frequent cleaning schedule. But most of the time, they’re never allowed to enter anyone’s cubicle or private office except to change the trash.

This means germs and bacteria have ample opportunity to multiply and fester. And it’s not just your desktop that’s a danger to your health. Your landline phone is probably the dirtiest item in your office. It contains, on average, 25,127 microbes per square inch. Your office’s toilet seat has around 40 germs per square inch.

And because desktops, keyboards, and phones are so rarely cleaned, germs and bacteria thrive and spread easily (living, on average, three days). When someone shows up to work with a cold or the flu, it’s easy to see how it can make the rounds to everyone in the office.

CNN reports that the bacteria lurking on your desk can also cause strep throat, pneumonia, and other conditions that will not only make you miss work, but also cause you to rack up substantial health expenses. So, it’s definitely worth your time to keep your own office clean and sanitized.

Put your cleaning gloves on. Here are 3 ways to sanitize your cubicle and keep your working area clean, healthy and germ-free.

1. Kill Those Germs With Disinfecting Wipes
It’s important to start by disinfecting all the surfaces in your cubicle or office. You can best accomplish this by using germ-killing wipes that contain bleach or alcohol.

You can easily make your own wipes:

  1. First, fold a stack of heavy-duty paper towels (or cloth rags) and place them into a resealable container, such as a zip-lock bag or empty plastic container.
  2. Next, mix a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 1/2 cups of water and pour over your stack of paper towels.
  3. Let them soak through entirely, and then start using them to wipe down your desk, your keyboard, and your phone.

If you want an eco-friendly option, then substitute the bleach for white vinegar instead. As you may know, the uses for vinegar are many.

Do this once in the morning and once before you leave and you’ll dramatically cut down the amount of germs in your office.

2. Put In Some Plants
The building your office is in could also be a source of ills. Issues such as mold, asbestos, and off-gassing from carpets, paints and office furniture contribute to sick building syndrome, a condition that’s estimated to cause over 24 million sick days every year.

You can offset this by strategically placing certain plants in your office. Some plants have been proven by NASA to purify the indoor air better than others. And this is an eco-friendly way to clean the air.

Which plants should you put in your office?

  • Mother-In-Law-Tongue
  • Peace Lily
  • English Ivy
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Potted Mums
  • Green Spider Plant
  • Gerbera Daisies

3. Wash Your Hands
ABC News sent a microbiologist into one executive woman’s office in Manhattan. Do you want to know what he found?

Her mouse contained hundreds more bacteria than a toilet seat. He even found intestinal bacteria in the candy basket on her desk. Yuck.

One of the best ways to keep your desk and office clean is to wash your hands several times a day, especially after you’ve used the restroom.

If you do end up getting sick, there are plenty of natural cold and flu remedies you can try at home.

Final Word

It’s easy to see how your office can make you sick. It’s lurking with millions of bacteria and nasty germs! Taking simple steps like wiping down surfaces daily, putting in air purifying plants, and washing your hands can go a long way towards keeping you healthy and productive.

What are you doing to keep your office and workspace clean?

(Photo Credit: DDFic)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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