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    Your WFH desk is three times dirtier than a toilet seat, say boffins

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    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?

    When did you last clean your office or home desk? Even though it might look clean, 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.

    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 workinglife. 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.

    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.”

    Also, according to Jonathan ‘not washing your hands after using a toilet could result to the transfer of faecal coliforms to the keyboard we use whilst we eat in our desk. This could be of particular concern amongst workmates especially when we will be returning to the office.’

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien