You may or may not have seen the study by Kimberley-Clark professional that looked into locating the dirtiest spots in an office. We thought it would be a good reminder for those who have, and enlightening to those that have yet to learn where these hot-spots of grime are.
Exposure to germs within the office isn’t always dangerous, however poorly sanitised rooms can lead to cross infection of viruses. We all know it’s in a company’s best interest to keep their employees both happy, and healthy.
If you were asked the question, “where are the dirtiest places in the office?”
You wouldn’t be stupid if your immediate answer was the bathroom. Or more specifically the bathroom door handles, perhaps?
However, this isn’t as accurate as you might think – which is slightly unnerving. According to the research published, there are a number of places far worse than the bathrooms and used far more regularly.
The research was carried out using swabs and samples taken from almost 5,000 surfaces in office buildings where around 3,000 employees worked. These offices were commercial, law, media and recruitment.
All swabs were tested for their concentration of ATP; an energy molecule that enables all living things to survive. Food residue, also known as organic matter, often has high concentrations of ATP molecules. This provides the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to breed and potentially lead to office viral outbreaks. The ATP concentration acts as a solid predictor for the level of bacteria or germs growing within the same area. Even if viral outbreaks don’t occur from these dirty spots, it’s still not a healthy environment for employee motivation and productivity.
Rankings for the level of dirt are as follows:
- 100+ ATP molecules signify a wipe down is definitely required.
- 300+ ATP molecules on a surface, it is classified as dirty and requires a more focused cleaning approach.
The study found these areas below received readings of 300 or more making them officially dirty:
- 75% of break room sink-facet handles
- 48% of microwave door handles
- 27% of keyboards
- 26% of refrigerator door handles
- 23% of water fountain buttons
- 21% of vending machine buttons
There were still a number of places that earned the reading of could-be-cleaner
- 91% of break room sink-faucet handles
- 80% microwave door handles
- 69% keyboards
- 69% refrigerator door handles
- 53% of water fountain buttons
- 51% computer mice
- 51% desk phones
- 48% coffee pots and dispensers
- 43% of vending machine buttons
So the places we thought there would be no need to worry about, or didn’t even come into consideration, actually require a lot more attention. Cross contamination of bacterial and viral pathogens poses a real risk when harboring around areas like water stations and microwave handles. These stations are areas of high usage by all members of the office.
If you notice your current cleaning provider is merely wiping surfaces, or spot cleaning, perhaps reconsideration is needed? Office Cleaning isn’t just about ensuring the office looks and smells nice. It’s about effectively employing solutions that focus on all areas and surfaces within an environment. Cleaning hours allocated should be used effectively to sanitise areas that aren’t typically thought of – as we’ve seen with this study.
Area Managers that oversee, motivate and train cleaners so they are always meeting their targets is key! Looking beyond the polished glass and smell of citrus, your cleaning team needs to be going the extra mile daily, and not missing out these not-so-hard to reach areas.
Prior to signing a cleaning contract with a commercial cleaning provider be sure to have these requirements considered in the cleaning schedule! Have them documented so you know exactly when they will be tended to i.e. daily, weekly or monthly. Get to know what you’re paying for, that way you can ensure a hygienic environment is created, and water station germs will be a thing of the past!