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New study warns that your desk is three times dirtier than a toilet seat

16 August 2021

A NEW report reveals how dirty our working from home desks are compared to other household objects.

Over the past year, our working from home desk set up has been getting a lot of use. But do you know how many germs are lingering on our workspaces?

The study by Fasthosts has found that there are three times more germs on an office desk than a toilet seat.

According to Dr Jonathan Cox, lecturer in microbiology at Aston University, warns that many people neglect to thoroughly scrub and disinfect their workspace.

Internet access and hosting services provider Fasthosts conducted a study by swabbing different areas of the working from home set up from the desk to the mouse and keyboard and compared them to other household objects and the results show that our desks harbour more germs than a toilet seat.

Office desks are dirtier than a toilet seat and a kitchen bin.

Based on the swabbing results, the home desk is by far the filthiest part of the home with an average cleanliness RLU (Relative Light Unit) score of 606. As it turns out a standard toilet seat is much cleaner than a desk with a registered RLU score of 209.

The research also shines a light on particular areas of the house that people don't think of cleaning quite so regularly. The computer keyboard and mouse are a common part of working life. Results showed that the keyboard has a horrifyingly high average RLU score of 383, which is almost as many germs found in a kitchen bin (392).

  • Desk - RLU score of 606
  • Kitchen Bin- RLU score of 392
  • Keyboard - RLU score of 382
  • Desk chair - RLU score of 310
  • Computer mouse - RLU score of 260
  • Toilet seat - RLU score of 209
  • Door mat - RLU score of 209

Dr Jonathan Cox microbiologist from Aston University explains that each key strike both deposits and picks up microorganisms. Thus, it’s crucial to wash our hands before we eat in our desks and disinfect the surface and our work devices regularly.

Most people probably never questioned the cleanliness of their desk chair, but the seat and arms of your chair can harbour a plethora of germs. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the desk chair (310) is home to more germs than the amount found on a toilet seat!

DR Cox said: "Germs like moist, high contact or nutrient rich surfaces. Moisture transferred from your fingertips onto your keyboard is sufficient to sustain a thriving ecosystem of microorganisms.'

"The bacteria found on desks lack the ability to attack us unless we inject them to our body e.g., typing while eating crisps and not washing our hands regularly."

He added: "Bacterial transfer from us to our environment is inevitable, and therefore a tidy desk with minimal objects is easier to disinfect and therefore is less likely to harbour large microbial communities.’

"Whilst in the office using disinfection wipes and surface cleansers between users can also help to keep the bacterial load down, as well as keeping desks clutter-free."

According to Dr Cox not washing your hands after using a toilet could result to the transfer of faecal coliforms to the keyboard we use while we eat in our desk. "This could be of particular concern amongst workmates especially when we will be returning to the office," he said.

Commenting on the research, Michelle Stark, sales and marketing director at Fasthosts said: “As tech experts at Fasthosts, we were interested to see the results of the tests. We know the importance of cleaning your desk equipment is important now more than ever, to look after your equipment and most importantly your health – but it’s clear there is benefit in helping to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria developing.

We would recommend that desk users practice good hygiene and clean your desk as regularly as possible.”

You can find the full study here: www.fasthosts.co.uk/dirty-desks