HR Strange But True!
January 09, 2009

In another installment of “Germs in the Workplace,” researchers led by the University of Arizona's Dr. Charles Gerba set out to determine the germiest surfaces in the workplace and compare just who piles up the most germs at work.

The researchers found that among both men and women, the germiest workplace surfaces included (ranked from most germy to least germy):

    1. Phone
    2. Keyboard
    3. Computer Mouse
    4. Desktop

Objects like phones and desktops had gender neutral results, but when it came to computer mice and keyboards, women's offices had three to four times more germs. Results became even more skewed when desk drawers were examined, as women's desk drawers had seven times more germs than men's (however, men's desks in general had more germs).

"What we found is that women seemed to have more 'stuff' in their offices, from makeup bags to pictures of family and purses on their desks," said Dr. Gerba. "It added up to big numbers for women, even though their offices typically looked cleaner."

Of the 113 total office surfaces tested, here are some of the results:

  • Telephone
    • Most germy: Women
    • Least germy: Men
  • Computer keyboard
    • Most germy: Women
    • Least germy: Men
  • Computer mouse
    • Most germy: Women
    • Least germy: Men
  • Desks
    • Most germy: Men
    • Least germy: Women
  • Exclamation key on keyboard
    • Most germy: Women
    • Least germy: Men
  • Pens
    • Most germy: Women
    • Least germy: Men

According to Dr. Gerba, men's wallets were the single most germy item in any office--four times more germy than women's purses. Dr. Gerba recommends frequent hand-washing and using disinfecting wipes daily on hard surfaces in your cubicle or office to kill germs. The study was funded by Clorox.

Source: The Clorox Company

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