Research from the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona revealed that the coffee mug most people keep on their desk at the office is covered with obnoxious filth known as fecal matter.
Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at University of Arizona, found that colonies of germs live in office coffee mugs and even though some people give their cups a quick wash in the office kitchen, it doesn't help much. Professor Gerba found that twenty percent of office mugs carry fecal bacteria and ninety percent are covered in other germs.
Washing your mug at work won’t help because sponges usually found in office kitchens are likely teeming with bacteria which can end up living in in the mug for three days. He recommends taking the mug home every day and wash it in the hottest water possible. Failure to wash a coffee mug in hot, soapy water and drying it with a paper towel allows bacterial colonies grow even when the cup contains nothing more than a coffee ring.
How, exactly, does fecal matter get on a coffee mug? Surprisingly, or maybe not, a 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Health observed 3,749 people after they used the toilet and found that 10 percent did not wash their hands, 33 percent used a water only rinse, no soap and of those that did use soap and water, most didn't lather long enough. Long enough was defined as 20 seconds. A study done in 2009 study found that toilet-goers were more likely to wash if they saw others doing so. It pays to set a good example. It's those non-hand washers that spread their feces around the office.
Here's another interesting finding: the higher up you go, the more fecal bacteria on that person's cup. There was no explanation for this finding!
Coffee cups aren't the only filthy things in the office though. Phones have the most germs, followed by the top of the desks, keyboards, mouses and the fax machine and photocopier.
A lot of folks eat at their desk during lunch not realizing they are eating in filthy, germ-laden surrounding. They safest place to eat your lunch is not your desk, it's off the toilet seat. Yes, the toilet seat!
It was the object with the least amount of germs on it. The level of germs one is exposed to sitting at their desk is 400 times the level of contamination on a toilet seat. A desk top has about 10 million germs, phones 25,000 per square inch, keyboards 3,000 per square inch and a mouse 1,600. The toilet seat averages about 49 germs per square inch.
Another study found that only one in five office refrigerators was cleaned out once or twice a year. That means workers are exposed to things like hepatitis and staph infections.
The recommendation is don't eat lunch at your desk unless you wipe it down with soap and water or antibacterial wipes before and after eating, but who does that. And, an employee lunch room or kitchen probably isn't going to be any cleaner. After all, that's probably where you picked up a fellow co-worker's feces that's on your coffee cup!