We all dread the flu season – the aches and pains, coughing, and other miserable symptoms that can linger for weeks. Sometimes, getting the flu is just an unavoidable fate, especially for those working in offices.
Should we get sick, it’s our responsibility to our friends, coworkers, and their families to take care of our germs and keep our office space clean.Cleaning regularly is the first line of defense. Sadly, most people don’t know how to take preventative steps to protect themselves and others from horrible bugs.
Common areas that need to be disinfected
- Staplers and tape dispensers. Be certain to use sanitizer wipes to clean all surface areas of the stapler and tape dispensers; top, bottom, and sides. These items are often picked up, and more than just the top should be cleaned.
- Keyboards. Keyboards are one of the dirtiest pieces of equipment in the office, especially if you have snacks or drinks nearby. Crumbs get caught, and during flu season, so can sneezes. If your keyboard has painted letters, you may not want to use sanitizer wipes as the paint may fade. Canned air is most useful for removing crumbs. Wet a paper towel with water and a small dab of soap and lightly clean any dirty areas. Mist the keyboard with sanitizer aerosol and let dry completely.
- Computer mouse. This is handled as much as the keyboard, and should be cleaned regularly, especially if you are recovering from the flu. Someone may reach over to grab your mouse without asking, and contamination may occur.They are safe to be wiped down with a sanitizer cloth.
- Phones and headsets. Even if you’re unaware, saliva regularly splatters off of our lips as we speak, getting spittle in the mouth piece of our headsets. After scrubbing your headset down, carefully test to see if either end of the headset can be removed for more thorough cleaning. If not, these should ideally be replaced yearly, if not every six months. These pieces can all be cleaned with sanitizer wipes and compressed air. When cleaning the phone, use the same precautions you take with your keyboard as the numbers and lettering are often painted on. Use a slightly damp wash cloth with minimal hand soap and wipe down any place with grime. Spray with aerosol and let air dry completely. Compressed air can be used around the buttons as well, to help keep buttons from sticking.
- Pencils and pens. These tools are best cleaned by wiping them down with sanitizer wipes individually since they are held and pass through many hands.
- Chairs. Many office chairs have arms which we touch with our hands as we sit, stand, or drum during idle time. Someone may come into your work space and borrow your chair to use your computer or to sit and chat with a coworker. Consider everything you touch in a day, wiping your mouth, your nose, eating, sneezing, and then we touch our chair to stand or sit down when pushing it in and out from our desks. These are truly one of the dirtiest places in the office and should be cleaned weekly. Simply wipe down with antibacterial wipes.
- Refreshment spaces. The community used snack and refreshment areas carry contamination risks. This may be a separate room or a cabinet and drawer area where snacks or beverages are stored. Wipe these spaces down with sanitizer wipes, including your coffee pot, water jugs, nozzles, canisters and door pulls. Don’t use aerosol in these areas, as the chemicals may contaminate food and beverage containers.
- Fidget toys. Fidget toys are becoming a popular trend. Many places of business hand these out to employees as gifts or rewards, or individuals may bring them on their own. Most often these are irresistible to touch, especially those designed fight stress. As these may pass through several sets of hands, it’s best to clean them often. Depending on the item, they can be washed down with a sani-wipe, or may need careful cleaning with a gentle cleanser like soap and water.
Six items for disinfecting
Now that we’ve covered areas of cleaning and methods to keep your office area bug-free, let’s talk about a couple items you should be carrying.
- Germ-X Aloe Hand Sanitizer. Great for the office and everyday use to keep from over-drying your skin.
- Facial Tissue Pocket Packs. Can be kept in your purse or briefcase for use anywhere.
- Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Singles. Perfect for anywhere, even slipping into your pocket.
- Clorox Green Works Compostable Cleaning Wipes. Excellent to keep on the desk for thorough cleaning.
- Honeywell HEPAClean Compact Air Purifier. Small and compact, and an excellent way to combat not only germs but every day allergens that invade the workspace. Did you know that up to 80% of dust molecules found in the office space are human hair and skin cells?
- Sustainable Earth by Staples Multipurpose Cleaning Wipes. Ideal for travel or the office.
The best tip for healthy living
As cliché as this may sound, the best preventative care has always been thorough handwashing. Use antimicrobial or antibacterial soaps after using the restroom, after using another person’s workspace and before eating or preparing food.
Germs are passed on easily through touch. Keeping your workspace tidy and hands cleaned are the best ways to keep you and those around you healthy throughout the flu season and the entire year.
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