Healthy Clean Workplaces

Does a wipe-a-day wipe out germs

With more care in the office and good hygiene habits – germs might not be wiped out completely, but they certainly can be wiped away.

A 2001 American study set out to measure bacteria levels in the workplace and study the effect of a “wipe-a-day” cleaning routine. Carried out by respected microbiologist Professor Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, the study covered offices in four different cities.

Workers were divided into two groups  – disinfecting wipe users and non-wipe users.  In each case 12 selected work sites were measured three times a day, with a total of 7000 samples collected for analysis.

Sites included desks and equipment, elevators, photocopiers, water fountain handles, fax, and toilet seats.  In all cases, the top five bacterial hot spots were the phone, desktop, water fountain handle, microwave handle and keyboard – in that order.

During the day, levels of bacteria on the selected sites used by non-wipe users increased by as much as 31 percent.  Among wipe users, illness-causing micro-organisms were reduced by 99 percent or more – even in the most contaminated areas.

The study concluded that, in common areas where cleaned and disinfected every day, there were fewer germs and bacteria than most desks.  On average, it was found that the area where workers rest their hands on the desk held 10,000,000 bacteria.

It was found that the average desktop held more bacteria than any surface tested in the bathroom.  Toilet seats and photocopier surfaces were the least contaminated sites in all of the offices tested.