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Maybe you’ve got some time on your hands for a little spring cleaning, or maybe you’re just curious—but the grimiest places in an office are not at all where you’d expect to find them. It’s not just the bathroom sinks, break room refrigerator, or office water cooler that should concern you. There are seven places that most workers don’t think twice about that are actually dirtier than a toilet seat.

1.  Conference Room Table

The conference room table is one of the most frequented places in an office. It’s where people come together to discuss business, make decisions, and share their ideas. But what many people don’t realize is that a conference room table can be one of the dirtiest places in an office. Employees don’t just pass through. They often sit for long durations, eating lunch, shuffling paperwork, sneezing into a shirt sleeve, and then touching the table.

Despite being a high-touch surface with germs from so many different people, conference tables are almost never disinfected. A moist paper towel to wipe up after lunch doesn’t count. It’s common to find not only dirt, dust, and grime on the table but also bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. Choose your seat wisely.

2. Office Phones

Another common source of germs, phones often contain a variety of materials, including plastic and rubber, which can attract bacteria and mold spores. You basically spit into it while speaking, and a phone handset can hold moisture and food particles that can attract more germs. Office phones can be a significant source of germs, especially if they’re not cleaned regularly. In fact, according to one study, phones can be ten times dirtier than public toilets.

3. Computer Keyboards and Mice

We use them all the time, so computer keyboards can be a significant source of germs. This is especially true if you work in an office with shared equipment or in a public computer lab. In addition, most people don’t clean their computer keyboards as often as they should, if ever. A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that some computer keyboards had up to 1,200 times more bacteria than toilet surfaces. Computer mice are another common source of germs. A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that about 86% of computer mice tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can lead to infection. The bottom line is that we should all be cleaning our computer keyboards and mice regularly.

4. Microwave

You might think that microwaves are germ-free (because all the germs get zapped), but you’d be wrong. The latest research shows that the inside of your microwave is a haven for bacteria and germs. Microwave radiation only heats food; it doesn’t sterilize it. As a result, bacteria can survive and even thrive in your microwave. Some research has even shown that using the microwave may actually increase the number of germs in your food. The best way to avoid this is by thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables before cooking them and by keeping meats away from other foods during cooking. Most bacteria are found in the door handle area where they could easily be transferred to your hands or food when you open or close the door.

5. Coffee Maker

One of the most common places to find germs in the kitchen is on the staff coffee maker. More than half of all office coffee makers have some sort of bacteria growing inside them. Most bacteria are found in the water reservoir, filter holder, and carafe. In fact, the office coffee maker is considered one of the dirtiest appliances because people often don’t clean them properly or change their filters every few weeks as they should. It’s always someone else’s job. If you use your office coffee maker regularly, it can be covered in mold and bacteria from leftover coffee grounds and water.

6. Door handles, elevator buttons, and light switches

Among the most neglected items when it comes to office cleaning, door handles, elevator buttons, and light switches are also common places to find bacteria. Researchers say this is because people often touch these things with their hands before they wash them. These surfaces are often touched by a lot of people and not cleaned regularly, making them a breeding ground for germs.

7. Parking Lots and Sidewalks

It may seem like the rain and sun take care of outdoor areas on their own, but unless you employ commercial pressure washing services, concrete cracks are likely filled with dirt and grime that gets tracked inside onto carpeted and tiled surfaces. Entryways also house trash cans and ash urns, which means they’re full of garbage, soot, and other unsanitary items which often spill out onto the pavement.

Takeaway

These are seven places in an office that can be forgotten when it comes to cleaning. The most important thing is to make sure that you are cleaning these areas on a regular basis.