Germs In The Workplace

Having a clean workplace is important. Not only does it make the office look nice, but it affects the business’ bottom line.

Dirty offices can lead to employee illness and absence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates influenza causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays and an estimated $7 billion a year is in sick days and lost productivity.

To stop the spread of influenza at work, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated are essential.

Some of the worst places for germs include:


On average, toilet seats have approximately 49 germs per square inch. Office bathrooms contain E. coli and fecal toxins that can cause stomach and intestinal illness. The water fountain can have 2.7 million bacteria per square inch.

Break rooms / Kitchens

Many people are surprised to learn workplace kitchens are often dirtier than bathrooms. In 2012, Kimberly-Clark Professional conducted one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies ever done on “hotspots” where germs can lurk in the workplace. High levels of contamination were found on:

  • 75 percent of break room sink faucet handles
  • 69 percent of refrigerator door handles
  • 48 percent of microwave door handles
  • 48 percent of all coffee pots and dispensers
  • 21 percent of vending machine buttons


In the workplace, people touch as many as 30 objects every 60 seconds. The study by Kimberly-Clark Professional found that desks and telephones are key transfer points for germs because employees touch them so frequently. Computer keyboards can contain 9800 germs per square inch. That is 200 times more bacteria than on a toilet seat.

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