Ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak probably have you thinking about cleaning your office more than you used to.
While the CDC points out there have been no documented cases of coronavirus being transmitted from a contaminated surface, according to Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Dan Allan, our work environments are literally covered in germs and bacteria.
And a recent study shows coronavirus can live on certain surfaces longer than others.
Researchers said the virus was found to live on plastic and stainless steel for up to two to three days! It lived for 24 hours on cardboard, four hours on copper and three hours in the air.
That same study shows the virus can live on money for nine days.
Allan said many times, germs of all kinds can be found in the places where we eat.
“Bacteria are going to be everywhere, so if you don’t wash your hands before eating, or if you’re touching any other surface that could be contaminated, you’re likely to get sick,” said Allan. “There’s certain germs that can live for weeks on a surface, such as norovirus, so you really do have to try to keep your environment, especially your eating area, clean.”
Allan said germs are most likely to be found on items that are touched by many people.
This includes refrigerator handles, microwave buttons, elevator buttons, door handles -- even the office water cooler.
“You will pick up on your finger 70% of the viruses on stainless steel surfaces versus only 1% from a cloth surface or money,” University of Arizona professor Charles Gerba told The Today Show.
Once you’ve touched something, you can bring germs back to your desk -- so your keyboard, phones, and computer mouse are all subject to contamination.
So give your personal workspace a good, thorough cleaning to knock out germs and indoor allergens – and then clean and disinfect it again often. The CDC has recommendations for how and how often to clean surfaces.
When it comes to items you use often, like your computer or remote control, you wipe it down multiple times a day.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid contact with all germs -- Allan said there is a way to keep them from getting you sick.
He said we tend to lean on our hands and touch our eyes, which makes it easy for germs to pass from our hands right into our bodies. So if you can avoid touching your face, you can really cut down the likelihood of those germs making you sick.
He adds that nothing stops germs, dead in their tracks, better than good hand hygiene.
“The vast majority of your illnesses are going to be from your own hands,” said Allan. “Hand-washing properly, with enough time, with enough soap, with enough lather, or hand sanitizer -- if that’s all you have available -- and making sure you wash your hands before you touch your face or before you eat, will be your best bet to avoid sickness.”