Do Bacteria Live in Your Office?

Here’s what you need to know, and what you can do to keep those nasty fellas at bay.

clean keyboardWe pay lots of attention to the cleanliness of the office toilet and kitchen because they’re the places that get the dirtiest. Well, that’s what we think. You don’t think about your computer keyboard, do you? But you wouldn’t imagine the amount of bacteria that hide in between the tiny keys, inside and on your mouse, in filing cabinets, and drawers! Our office desk is the control panel for practically the whole workday, so it’s normal for our activity to leave its mark.

Bacteria move around as they like, dodging your attempt to keep things in their place, even steering clear of the daily cleaning service. Remember that the cleaning staff have instructions not to move things around in your workspace, to not misplace documents, so their cleaning is usually – let’s say – prudent.

Did you know?


list_ok500 types of bacteria
look for a home on your office desk: 100 more than on a kitchen table and 400 more than in a toilet.

list_okMost computer keyboards usually accumulate 70% more bacteria than a lavatory. (Yes, yes, right there where you put your hands.)

list_okTelephones (both mobiles and landlines) have a concentration of around 25,000 germs per square inch.

list_okAbout a quarter of the buttons on water dispensing machines are a real risk for the transmission of illnesses.

list_okThe flu virus can survive up to 18 hours on solid surfaces, such as your desk, for example.

list_okBacteria on a work surface that is not regularly disinfected can increase by about 30% a day.

list_okThe areas most infected by germs in an office are doors, dispensing machines and lift buttons.

list_okIf everybody washed their hands after going to the toilet, the number of germs and bacteria on door handles would be reduced by 80%.

list_okThe office reception is where there is the highest risk of catching a cold, due to the number of people who gather there. Meetings are also sensitive places in this regard.

list_okMost of the bacteria that we find in the office are also found in our mouths and noses and on our skin.

list_okA person with the flu can be contagious one day before showing any symptoms and up to five days after they appear.

How to eliminate bacteria from your office


hand iconWash your hands regularly (and for no less than 20 seconds each time!) and use disinfectant towels for cleaning office equipment. Doing this on a continual basis will reduce bacteria by 25%.

hand iconTry not to shake hands – whenever you can politely avoid it. There’s a good reason: 80% of infections are transmitted in this way. According to experts, hands transmit bacteria faster than sneezing.

hand iconAvoid placing food without protective packaging on solid surfaces – especially if they are in common areas.

hand iconDon’t keep food at room temperature for more than two hours.

hand iconVentilate the office several times a day. Humidity, heat and artificial ventilation are a summer holiday for germs.

keyboard cleaner

hand iconAs the computer keyboard has been proven to be one of the main hideouts for virus and bacteria, put it into quarantine! There are washable keyboards, like the one in the picture that you can soak whenever you want. There are also unusual brushes and hoovers, also connected by USB, so that nothing can escape you.

Too much cleanliness can be harmful to health.

There are studies to suit all tastes, and one by Emory University (USA) concludes that there are bacteria that favour the brain’s anti-inflammatory response, which protects us from depression amongst other illnesses.

It seems that the use of aggressive chemical cleaning products and the intensification of cleaning protocols are doing away with these bacteria. In other words, exposure to this type of infectious agent is fantastic for our health. Okay. Now we just need them to explain how to filter bacteria without having to take the office desk to a laboratory.

Sources: University of San Diego (USA) 2012; Centre for Economics and Business Research (Australia). Master-Cleaners Company; Emory University (USA).

Interested in reading this article in Spanish? Click here.

Interested in reading this article in German? Click here.

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