The Dirtiest Places In Your Office Might Surprise You

Close-up Of Man Cleaning The Floor With Yellow Wet Floor SignYou expect the office bathroom and hallway floor to be dirty, but there are other parts of your office that are even more infested with germs. These filthy locations are the most likely to spread germs and bacteria because no one realizes the real threat that they present. Even if the toilets and floors are scrubbed on a regular basis there may still be bacteria lurking, waiting to infect you and your staff.

A recent study conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional took samples from 5,000 office surfaces in buildings with around 3,000 employees. These businesses included insurance companies, law firms, health care companies, call centers and manufacturing plants. Researchers then used an ATP meter to analyze the collected swabs in order to identify the actual bacteria present in the environment. ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, which is a molecule that can be found in all vegetable, animal, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. The more ATP present on any surface equals a higher likelihood for the presence of viruses and bacteria.

According to the results, the office surfaces with an ATP reading of 100 or more included:

  • 91% of sink faucet handles in office break rooms
  • 69% of computer keyboards
  • 80% of door handles on microwaves
  • 53% of buttons on water fountains
  • 51% of computer mice
  • 48% of break room coffee pots
  • 51% of desk office phones
  • 43% of buttons on vending machines 

It gets worse… the surfaces found to have even higher counts of ATP readings of 300+ included:

  • 75% of break room sink faucet handles
  • 48% of door handles on microwaves in the break room
  • 26% of the door handles on the refrigerator
  • 23% of buttons on water fountains
  • 21% of buttons on vending machines


Work Kitchen

If your office staff shares a communal kitchen you will find a world of nasty bacteria and germs in here. This is where you come to eat so it should be one of the cleanest spaces in the office, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. It’s usually the unexpected areas in the communal kitchen that hold the most bacteria. While the sink and countertops may be regularly cleaned, what about the faucet that people touch all day but rarely clean? Even if you keep the interior of the fridge looking clean the handle to the fridge may not get cleaned very often, and this is where germs love to build up. No matter what, if you go in the fridge you have to touch the handle.   

The coffee station is almost always the worst culprit. Think about how many times people go to get coffee throughout the workday. When cleaning the coffee pot make sure to focus on cleaning the entire apparatus, not just the interior of the pot but the handle as well. It’s not just the actual coffee pot but the coffee accessories as well. Have you ever washed the creamer container and sweetener boxes? More than likely not, but these packages are picked up all of the time and as a result are constantly spreading new germs.


Office workers spend a great deal of time at the computer every day, and yet the computer and keyboard carries some of the largest levels of bacteria found anywhere else. The keyboard is breathed on, sneezed on and touched with dirty hands all day long, and yet these surfaces are cleaned far less than almost any other area of the office. Most people wash their hands before exiting the bathroom but most people don’t wash their hands before using the computer. In most cases germs have unlimited opportunity to build up on keys, just waiting to infect someone.

Office Tools

There are many commonly used tools in the office including calculators, telephones, remote controls, tablets and cell phones. All of these devices pick up and spread new bacteria all day. Office workers are regularly exposed to germs when they use these tools.

Tips To Reduce Office Germs

Having awareness of the dirtiest spaces in the office is helpful on its own. Once employees know that the break room can carry just as much risk for infection as the bathroom people can start acting accordingly to reduce risk.

  • Keep hand sanitizer accessible throughout the office, especially near workspaces so that employees can use before and after touching computers or other office tools.
  • Recommend employees to wash hands before going to work at their desk. Especially if they commute using public transportation, in which case they bring in a lot of bacteria on their hands. 
  • Keep disinfectant wipes and electronic wipes near desks so employees can wipe off spaces, especially if they eat at their desk.

The number one way to prevent dirty office spaces is to hire Tidy Team! We are here to keep every inch of your office clean and sanitized, reducing employee illness and increasing productivity.