Healthy Living

Five Dirtiest Places in Your Office and How to Clean Them

Do you think that the office bathroom is the dirtiest and most germ-infested place of them all? Think again. You may be surprised to find out that various other places in the office happen to be a whole lot dirtier than the loo.

Chances are that you’ve already touched the dirtiest surfaces a couple of times without even realizing it. Still, you may want to take a guess and continue reading to find out where most of the office germs lurk.

The Microwave Door Handle

Having a kitchen in the office is definitely great and if you have one, chances are that it features a microwave for heating up food quickly. Researchers have carried out an experiment, swabbing different surfaces in the office to find bacteria. They used an ATP meter, which can determine the concentration of bacteria.

An ATP reading of 300 or more is considered dangerous because the high concentration of bacteria could contribute to spreading diseases.

The microwave door handle is one of the office surfaces that have an ATP reading exceeding 300. Too many people touch this handle and chances are that many of those individuals haven’t washed their hands in advance. Quite yucky, especially because of the fact that food comes in such close proximity with the germs.

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce the risk of contamination is use an antibacterial wipe on the handle before touching it. Always wash your hands before and after preparing your food in the kitchen to reduce the possibility of contamination even further.


Another surprising entry in the dirty office places list, the keyboard also has an ATP reading that exceeds 300. According to some, the keyboard is actually a lot dirtier than a toilet. Most people aren’t aware of the fact and they don’t take any precautions when it comes to keeping those pesky germs off their fingers (literally!).

Various viral outbreaks have been contributed to contaminated computer equipment. This is particularly true for shared equipment being used by more than one individual.

It’s enough to sit at a coworker’s computer to read an email or check a text in order to help for spreading the germs. The solution is as simple as keeping the microwave door handle clean. Anti-bacterial wipes and washing hands frequently will reduce the likelihood of catching the flu as a result of touching a dirty keyboard.

Vending Machine Buttons

Alright, the office kitchen is far from clean and heating food in the microwave may be a bad idea. Opting for packaged foods from the office vending machine may seem like a more reasonable decision.

We’ll have to disappoint you once again. Vending machine buttons are also included among the dirtiest office places that have ATP reading of 300 or more.

Vending machine buttons are quite contaminated for the very same reason mentioned from the start of the article – people don’t wash their hands frequently. The buttons are touched by just about everyone and they aren’t cleaned as frequently as other surfaces in the office.

Always wash your hands before unpackaging anything that came out of the vending machine. If you’d like to be the good and caring colleague, you should also consider wiping the buttons clean every now and then.


Telephones, calculators, cell phones, remote controls and other kinds of shared office equipment can also be considered to be quite dirty.

These are shared resources that just about everyone uses. Few people, however, care about keeping the tools in a good condition. As a result, shared tools turn into breeding grounds for all kinds of bacteria.

Such tools can be particularly dangerous during flu season, especially if sick employees are coming to the office instead of staying home. Ensuring a separate kit for every individual in the office or at least making the groups that have to share tools smaller is definitely a good idea.

A Few Honorable Mentions

Apart from the dirtiest places in the office already included in the list, there are several additional (dis)honorable mentions. These spots have ATP readings of 100 or more. Though these aren’t as dangerous as the spots having ATP of 300, the honorable mentions will most definitely benefit from a thorough scrubbing.

So, a few of the other relatively dirty spots in the office include faucet handles, computer mice, coffee pots and coffee dispensers, refrigerator handles, water coolers and water fountains.

Things may start to sound a bit scary but keep in mind that men and bacterial have co-existed peacefully for thousands of years. If you maintain good personal hygiene and you put a little bit of effort in keeping your own office space clean, you’ll be protected from harmful exposures in the workplace.

About the author:

By Cliff Derksen, owner of First Impressions Janitorial, a Winnipeg cleaning company (

One Comment

  • Joel

    As the owner of a commercial cleaning company myself I have to say that this article is on point. We regularly advise clients that we will be dealing with these areas of their office as part of our cleaning schedule.

    We even have a special service for keyboards as they need special care and attention. Unless the keyboards are waterproof, and most standard office keyboards are not, then you need to clean them in a special manner. They are probably the worst culprit in the whole office with how bad of a breeding ground for germs they are.

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