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Welcome to the Filthiest Place in America: Your Desk

Dirty, messy desk

Author’s Disclaimer: Folks, we’re not here to judge. We’re here to help. 

You get to work, take off your coat, turn on your computer, put down your coffee, sit down and get to work.

Proceed with caution: You’ve just sat down at maybe the filthiest place in America.

If you’re reading this blog at your desk, chances are (though we’re not saying this is you, but it probably is if you haven’t emptied your desk waste basket in over a month or eat hot wings without a napkin over your keyboard) you are spending eight hours today at a work space that is a disgusting 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat, per Desk Time.

Godspeed and good luck.

Jokes aside, why are America’s work desks places Oscar the Grouch would think twice about living at? Because if you think of it, we do live part-time at our desks. The average American worker spends 8 hours a day, 40 hours and almost two full days a week at their desk. As American workers grind out long days for their companies, they are literally camping out at their desks.

Many of today’s work desks also double as lunch rooms, much to the delight of germs, who if they could speak, would call our desks a Work Cafe.

While we’re eating at our desks, we’re naturally multi-tasking, often typing and working the phones. This uber American multi-tasking leads to the average keyboard containing 15 million microbes according to Desk Time. The average desktops harbors 20,9061 germs per square inch. The average work phone contains a staggering 25,127 germs per square inch.

“No wonder work environments are breeding grounds for germs,” Desk Time’s Krista Krumina wrote.

For viruses such as influenza can survive for two to three days on desktops, phones and computer keyboards. They are transmitted when we touch contaminated objects and then put our hands on our nose, mouth and eyes, Gerba notes. 

But why are our desks a nuclear germ contamination site?

“Simply because people usually don’t clean their desks on a regular basis,” Chuck Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, told Fitness Magazine.

The fallout from working with all of those germs volunteering as your unpaid, unhygienic, lazy assistant each day: “More than two thirds of office workers are at risk of sickness due to dirty desks,” the Independent’s Jack Peat writes. “Failing to clean regularly with antibacterial wipes can encourage dangerous bugs to breed, such as Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, E-coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, to name a few.”

As you reach for the Lysol Wipes and begin a full Stage 5 Decontamination Project on your desk, here’s where to start.

  1. Declutter: Remove desk and drawer clutter and arrange your paperwork. Then wipe it down several times with a wet cloth. Next, use an office disinfectant to de-germify your work space. Spray and wipe your desk, computer, mouse, smart phone and literally every single item and spot during the day.
  2. If Possible, Make Your Desk A No-Food Zone: We know this is far easier said than done (full disclosure: the author of this blog eats breakfast and lunch at his desk daily), but try to avoid eating at your desk every day and always wipe down your work place down after eating. Never leave food or crumbs at your desk overnight.
  3. Become Mr. Or Miss Clean: Making cleaning your desk at the end of your shift a daily habit. 

For the health and comfort benefits of working at a clean desk are immensely enjoyable.  And don’t forget to have a bottle of hand sanitizer handy.

“A clean and well-organized workspace not only reduces the risk of getting sick but also improves your productivity, as well as your personal and professional image,” Krumina writes.