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How dirty is your office?

05 November 2015

With sickness season looming, it’s a good idea to pay a bit more attention to your office cleaning routine. UK office suppliers Viking recently conducted an experiment to see just how dirty the office equipment many of us use every day can be. The results were both revolting and surprising...

After procuring some agar-filled Petri dishes, the team took swabs from various areas around the office. The swabs were then used to inoculate the petri dishes so samples could be grown. The areas tested were: 

  • Hot water boiler
  • Computer mouse
  • Photocopier
  • Keyboard
  • Desk surface
  • Mouse (cleaned with desk wipes)
  • Main corridor door handle
  • Telephone mouthpiece
  • Chewed pencil
  • Chewed pen

After five days of incubation in a warm room, many of the items thought to be reasonably clean were, in fact, riddled with a wide variety of microbial growths, from funguses to bacteria. 

The Viking team came to two conclusions based on the results. The first was that despite some objects seeming to be cleaned regularly (e.g. desk surfaces), they still harboured a significant amount of dirt on them. Given the levels of growth most samples developed, the Viking team decided to up their game and be more rigorous with their cleaning routines.

The second conclusion was that some areas, such as the photocopier button, probably weren’t actually cleaned very often at all because they weren’t assigned to anybody in particular to take care of. The copier button sample displayed some of the worst looking results and highlighted just how important it was to regularly clean areas used frequently and communally to avoid them becoming points of contagion.


According to the NHS, some viruses can live for weeks on hard surfaces, such as kitchen worktops and, importantly, on most plastics – furthering the point that a daily clean from an antibacterial wipe would go a long way to curtailing any nasties lurking on buttons and the like.

If you needed any further motivation to keep things cleaner, the computer mouse comparison ought to clear things up. A sample was taken from a worker’s uncleaned mouse and then the same mouse was cleaned using generic desk wipes and another sample was taken. The results were undeniable – the uncleaned mouse’s sample showed large amounts of microbial growth, whereas the sample from the mouse that had been cleaned exhibited minimal growth.

There’s no need to be terrified of Viking’s experiment results though, as most of the microbial growths in the samples originate from germs present in levels that are unlikely to cause you any harm. We are constantly surrounded by bacteria, funguses etc. and many are even good for us.

It is, however, important to exercise good hygiene routines and promote regular cleaning in the office just to make sure that the particularly nasty germs can’t develop and spread around the office.