New study reveals just how dirty your home office desk actually is

If you're squeamish, look away now
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  • Your working from home desk is hiding a dirty little secret. No, we don’t mean your secret stash of sweets or the foot spa hiding under your desk for long meetings. A recent study has discovered that your home office desk is actually hiding more germs than the rest of your house.

    When planning home office ideas, easy to clean probably isn’t top of your list. However, in light of these findings, it really should be.

    The research commissioned by internet access and hosting services provider Fasthosts, and carried out by microbiologist Dr. Jonathan Cox from Aston University found that your home office desk is hiding more germs than the kitchen bin and toilet seat. 

    Feeling squeamish yet?

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    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    The result was based on swab tests from around the home, and then scored based on their cleanliness Relative Light Unit (RLU). The higher the score the more germs that are present on the item.

    How many germs are on a home office desk

    The desk scored a shocking RLU score of 606. To put that into perspective the toilet seat and doormat registered an RLU score of 209. However, the desk isn’t the only part of your WFH set-up harbouring germs.

    The keyboard was found to have a score of 382, not far behind the score of a kitchen bin which was 392. Desk chairs also wracked up a worryingly high score of 310, and the computer mouse scored 260.

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    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    It is unsurprising that our desk and keyboards have become a haven of germs due to their increased use over the last year. According to Dr. Jonathan Cox, each key strike can deposit and pick up microorganisms.

    ‘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,’ he explains.

    ‘The bacteria found on desks lack the ability to attack us unless we inject them into our body e.g., typing while eating crisps and not washing our hands regularly.’

    If you do eat at your desk it is important to wash your hands before, and regularly disinfect the surfaces and devices you use.

    Desk in a navy blue room

    Image credit: Future Plc

    ‘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,’ he adds.

    A key way to keep your desk tidy is by investing in smart home office storage ideas. Keeping your desk clear makes it easier to give the surface a quick wipe down when cleaning the house.

    When using a disinfectant spray or wipe, make sure you read the label to ensure you are leaving it long enough to kill all bacteria, this is usually around 30 seconds.

    Might be time to rethink that sandwich you were planning to munch at your keyboard…

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