Top 5 Dirtiest Places in the Office

by Compass Cleaning Solutions • April 30, 2018
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If you’re already slightly cringing just reading the title of this article, it’s for good reason. The topic of the dirtiest places in the office is one that people don’t really want to seek out, but should absolutely be aware of in order to implement office cleaning tactics. From a team of professional cleaners, these are great tips to keep in mind when it comes to commercial cleaning and productivity.

Based on a study done by Kimberly-Clark Professional, the verdict is in on those top places that could use just a little more cleaning. Some of the items on the list are more surprising than other ones, but overall it teaches us a few key lessons – wash your hands, keep sanitizer close, bring your own dishes, and clean daily.

Awareness is the first step to taking action when it comes to protecting your office and your employees from an outbreak of germs that can keep your employees sick. Teaching your employees why they need to keep a clean desk and promoting workplace wellness can make a huge difference in the well-being of your employees.

With 5,000 surfaces swabbed in a company of 3,000 employees, the findings were pretty consistent. Can you take a guess at what’s on the list?

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Here are the top 5 dirtiest places in the office:

The break room sink-faucet handle

Somewhat surprisingly, this is by far the dirtiest place in your office. People don’t think to be as cautious in the break room around the sink as they are in the restroom. In the restroom, people don’t like to touch the faucet without a paper towel; in the breakroom, nobody thinks about that.

Microwave door handles

You might want to think again when you’re microwaving your lunch. Many people touch the microwave and then go back to their desks to pick up their freshly warmed food, without even thinking about washing their hands. Even if you wash your hands right before entering the kitchen to warm up your meal, you’re still touching a contaminated surface after the face.


This one is not so surprising as it’s the most used item day to day. People don’t tend to wash their hands or use sanitizer before sitting down to do their work. That means that all of the germs on their fingers are making it right onto the keyboard. This is the same with using a mouse.

Refrigerator door handles

Again, when you’re grabbing your lunch, be careful what you’re touching before your food. Just like the microwave, it doesn’t matter if you washed your hands before you went into the break room or kitchen to grab your food; you’re still touching a contaminated surface and potentially directly transferring those germs to your food next.

Water fountain buttons

Another one that’s good to be aware of. Now, this study was also performed in restrooms, and the break room items are by far dirtier. What does this tell us? We don’t pay as much attention to the risk of germs when we aren’t in a bathroom, so we don’t take those extra precautions as we would in there. The break room is also a spot where so many people come in contact, and it’s shared with the whole company.

Certainly, you’ll want to think again before you use any reusable rags, dishware, counter space, and other items in the kitchen that get regular use. You also want to be sure to wash your hands before you touch any of your food after leaving the breakroom. This may point to why people always seem to be getting sick and passing things along in the office.

How can you avoid all of these germs?

The first tip is to be sure you’re frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water. When you use items in the breakroom, touch any buttons, or grab your food, wash your hands. Just make that a rule of thumb. The water needs to be as hot as you can stand, and you need to rub the soap on your palms, forearms, under your fingernails, and anywhere else that you feel has come in contact with a germ-laden location.

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If it’s not so easy to keep running to the restroom to wash your hands, keep a hand sanitizer right on your desk so that you can use it in those situations. This should not replace regular hand washing but can act as a stand-in for those certain scenarios. Another tip is to avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, or nose while you’re in the office – or really whenever. This is a good life tip to follow no matter where you go. Most of the bacteria found in different places throughout the office, as well as everywhere you go, are from the skin, nasal, and oral cavities. If you avoid touching these areas, you won’t spread those germs everywhere.

You should be wiping down your desk space every single day. Any item that you touch all day long, should be cleaned daily. The last tip is to routinely wipe down the other items in your office that get used a lot. Your keyboard and your mouse are the top two items that are used on a day-to-day basis. These have been shown to hold a ton of bacteria, as most people don’t simply plan on washing their hands before they begin typing or using the computer.

If you’re on the phone constantly, you need to be wiping that down each day too. You are grabbing the handle over and over without considering what you’ve touched right before because really nobody thinks about that. Now that you’re aware, your phone should be a part of your everyday cleaning practice.

The next tip would be to just not eat at your desk in general. It helps spread germs, and you can certainly find another spot in the office to eat. Just be sure to wipe that space down too! If you can leave the office to have your lunch, that’s even better because you will likely not be surrounded by as many germs in close quarters.

If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to the office and spread your germs. Also, it’ll be easier for you to recover if you’re getting adequate rest. If your manager is not on board with this, you need to explain that they are potentially risking the health and well-being of the other people in their office, and that, likely, you will cause another person to get sick.

Mop and bucket

The very last tip is probably the most important. Hiring a local cleaning company like Compass Cleaning Solutions will help you to keep your office space clean on a regular basis. This helps put preventative measures in place to keep your office clean, healthy, and safe. A commercial cleaning company has a long-running checklist and the proper cleaning items and expertise to keep your office environment thoroughly cleaned and safe so that your employees can come in every day and not be as worried.

Even if you do utilize a commercial cleaning company, getting the whole team on board to take measures of their own is key to truly keeping the office clean.

The key thing to keep in mind

Now that you’re aware of the five dirtiest places in the office, you can be proactive about keeping your space clean and free of germs, while being cautious of these high-traffic areas that could be exposing you to germs or making you sick. Follow proper handwashing and keep your sanitizer close. Clean your desk before you go home and you will be good to go.

But let’s talk about one more thing…

Before you go for that mug that’s sitting on the shelf with the other ‘clean’ dishes in your office, think again. Studies show that 90% of the mugs in different offices are covered in germs and have not been properly cleaned.

It’s also been shown that 20% of that 90% actually carry fecal matter. The cause of this is due to shared sponges that haven’t been swapped out enough. Researchers tested this by taking a mug that was not infected and then wiping it with a shared sponge or rag. The verdict? The mug was then contaminated.

There is a huge, real concern when it comes to office space and the unsanitary conditions that lie present. There are tons of germs floating around the office and your coffee cup is one of the worst spots for that to occur.

It’s advised to bring your own mug with you and bring it home every night to clean it in the dishwasher thoroughly. Your office can also purchase a small office cup washer to be more preventative in the matter, and eliminate the use of sponges and rags in the office.

Another interesting result of the study to point out if that offices with more men than women produce results that suggest those offices hold more concerning bacteria. If you have a company with more male employees than female, it may be time to implement an office-wide policy for precautionary measures. The bacteria that are showing up in these studies are mostly coming from oral, intestinal, skin, and nasal cavities.

The best way to avoid this type of situation is just to bring your own cup or mug and don’t use the ones that are in the kitchen for you. Take matters into your own hands and rely on the sanitary precautions that you take on your own.

Top 5 dirties places in the office

And one more to touch on this

This is worth throwing in here while we’re on the topic. It’s also been shown that one in six smartphones have fecal matter present on the surface. The main issue is that people do not properly wash their hands after using the restroom.

This bacteria is then transferred to everything someone touches in the office and can make people really sick. This type of bacteria has a lifespan of a few weeks and can easily be transferred to the next person that comes in contact with it.

If you notice that people in your office tend to get sick on a regular basis and it’s like a never-ending train, likely your office space isn’t being properly cleaned and it’s contaminated with different bacteria strains.

Hire an expert commercial cleaning team

Again, the best way to avoid these situations altogether is by hiring an expert team to clean your office daily, with occasional deep cleanings. It’s also important to implement a standard cleaning procedure for all employees to promote workplace wellness and productivity. This will eliminate the number of people who fall ill at the office and will keep people safe and healthy overall.

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Compass Cleaning Solutions is a top expert in commercial office spaces. Their goal is to keep you and your workers healthy by providing a clean and safe environment from which to work. With years of experience and many offices that trust the Compass Cleaning Solutions staff, we pride ourselves on our meticulous and thorough methods and a job well done. Contact us today to discuss your office cleaning needs, and we can create a plan. Let’s keep your employees happy and in the best possible, clean environment.