top of page

The dirties places in your office which required urgent attention

You may be hesitating to reheat your lunch at your pantry microwave or to simply purchase a drink at your office vending machine!

In a new study by Kimberly-Clark Professional, researchers swabbed nearly 5,000 surfaces in office buildings housing about 3,000 employees. The offices included law firms, insurance companies, health care companies, call centers and manufacturing facilities.

The swabs were analyzed with an ATP meter, a device commonly used to assess sanitary conditions in industry. It measures levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule found in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. High ATP levels are present in food or other organic residues left on surfaces. The more ATP found on a surface, the more likely it’s flourishing with bacteria and viruses.

The dirtiest office surfaces found to have ATP counts of 300 or higher were as follows:

75% of break room sink faucet handles

48% of microwave door handles

27% of keyboards

26% of refrigerator door handles

23% of water fountain buttons

21% of vending machine buttons

1. Breakroom sink faucet handles

Breakroom sinks are … well … gross. The Kimberly-Clark study found that 75 percent of all breakroom faucet handles were considered high-risk for spreading illness and that a whopping 91 percent should be disinfected. You’d probably be wise to use a paper towel to turn the handles on and off. At bare minimum, use a hand sanitizer after using the sink.

2. Microwave door handles

Even in a smaller company, employees use the microwave in the lunchroom 30 times or more a day, from warming that morning muffin to nuking someone’s lunch. Microwave oven interiors hide a combination of meat and vegetable particles, creating a perfect nest for bacteria.

3. Keyboard and mouse

Because your hands are on both of these for hours a day, they are both packed with dead skin cells, food particles and dust. If you don’t keep them and your hands clean, even bacteria that only survives for a few hours on hard surfaces will keep getting reapplied every day you use them. A study found keyboards have 3,295 bacteria per square inch, while a mouse has 1,676 germs per square inch.

4. Drinking fountain buttons or handles

Nothing like dirty hands, moisture and spit to get the germs bubbling up, eh? A study of drinking fountains found that they were common sources of rotavirus (a common cause of diarrhea) contamination and influenza A. Your best bet is to let the water run for about five seconds before taking a drink and then washing your hands after using it.

5. Vending machine buttons

Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen the vending machine guy wipe down the front of the machine with an antiseptic wipe after filling it up?

6. Refrigerator door handles

The average fridge contains about 7,850 bacteria colony-forming units

bottom of page