Keeping it Clean: Desk Hygiene at Work

Keeping it Clean: Desk Hygiene at Work

Most of us sweep and mop our kitchen regularly, and many of us don’t let our dishes pile up or our laundry go un-folded. Yet, there are a surprising number of workers who admit to never cleaning their desks. Some people spend more time at their desks than they do in their houses, so doesn’t it make sense to practice good desk hygiene?

The Nitty Gritty

The average desk is 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat. Have you seen how many people eat lunch at their desk? That’s like eating your sandwich off a toilet seat! If you weren’t sold on desk hygiene before, I’m betting you are now.

You might be thinking, “I keep my desk pretty tidy, so these facts don’t apply to me.” However, there’s quite a difference between a tidy desk, and one that is hygienic. Below we list the main offenders when it comes to desk hygiene, and strategies for keeping it clean.

Main Offender 1: Dirty Hands

Hands touch everything. The keyboard. The desk surface. The mouse. They touch the phone and all of the buttons, the stapler, and the calculator. If the hands are dirty, it’s a guarantee that every other surface is, too.

Desk Hygiene Pro Tip: It goes without saying that if you don’t want your desk to be as dirty as toilet, you should wash your hands after visiting the washroom, and frequently throughout the day.

Main Offender 2: Eating at your Desk

Eating at your desk is practically begging for bacteria growth. Crumbs, especially those that get into warm places, like under computers or into keyboard crevices, will grow bacteria. As well, foods that leave behind sticky residues collect dirt and dust and are attractive to ants and other creepy crawlies. Of course, eating at your desk also presents the risk of the ever-dreaded liquid spill. Murphy’s law says that this spill will almost always land directly on your keyboard or some other important electronic!

Desk Hygiene Pro Tip: Clean your desk before and after you eat. Using antibacterial wipes that kill germs is a great practice. In a pinch, vinegar and water work great, and are all-natural. Be sure that whatever you use to clean the desk won’t ruin the finish.

Wellness Pro Tip: Don’t eat lunch at your desk! Eat in the employee kitchen and get to know your coworkers or take it outside to a lawn or park. It is good for the brain and body to get away from your desk for a break if you can.

Main Offender 3: Sharing

I know – we’ve been told to share since we were in pre-school. But this isn’t kindergarten! Sharing phones, desks, and office implements puts germs on the fast track for spreading! When possible, discourage coworkers from using your pens, phone, or mouse. For those of you in a situation where sharing isn’t avoidable (for example, call centres with shared workstations), be aware that the more people who share a workstation, the more germs can likely be found there.

Desk Hygiene Pro Tip: The golden rule applies when it comes to sharing—treat others as you want to be treated. Wash your hands before you sit down to work, so that you are doing your best to reduce the spread of germs. Clean up any messes, and sanitize the desk at the start and end of your shift. 

Wellness Pro Tip: If you don’t have to share, don’t. Don’t use your coworkers’ computers or phones, or sit at their desks, unless you have to. If you absolutely must, be sure to wash your hands before and after.

At the end of the day, having a tidy desk with less clutter will ultimately help improve hygiene for the simple fact that a desk with less on it will be easier to clean properly. As well, having less clutter is linked to better focus. Regardless if your desk has a lot of stuff on it, or very little, practice the pro tips above to ensure that your desk is hygienic and provides a healthy and safe place to work!

Written by Jenn Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator

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