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Preventing the Spread of Germs at the Office

Tips on how to stay healthy at your workspace during this upcoming cold and flu season.

Nashville, Ark. – Proper hand washing and preventing the spread of germs is more important now than ever. Just turn on the news or pick up a newspaper and you are sure to see at least one segment devoted to preventing the spread of germs. While you may be aware of proper hand washing, you may not have thought of the number of germs that are in the workplace. In a study conducted by University of Arizona, the workplace has its share of germs.

Here are some interesting places that germs can be found:

  • Telephones can have up to 25,127 germs per square inch.
  • Computer keyboards may have 3,295 germs per square inch
  • Computer mouse has up to 1,676 germs per square inch.

According to the American Cleaning Institute and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, here are several tips to help you stay healthy at the workplace:

Proper Hand Washing

When it comes to spreading infectious diseases, proper hand washing is the number one defense. Routinely wash your hands with soap during the day. Make time to wash your hands when you arrive at work, before and after lunch, after using the restroom and in between meetings. Proper hand washing means turning on the water (warm is best), using soap and rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds, rinsing and then drying. Turn the faucet off with your paper towel after you have dried your hands. Use that paper towel or another one to open the door.

Because germs can be transmitted from almost anything you come in contact with, keep a surface cleaner or disinfecting spray or wipes handy for wiping down those surfaces you have the most contact with. This would include the telephone and your desk. Read the label of the product you are using, before you use it, to make sure it will not damage the surfaces and also to make sure it kills the germs that lead to cold and flu.

Clean Office Equipment

Before you begin to clean any electrical office equipment, computer, keyboard, printer, etc., make sure the power is turned off. Also never spray cleaner directly onto any part of the computer. Spray it on a cloth, and then gently wipe. Here are some specific instructions for cleaning electronic equipment.

Keyboard: Clean the keys with a cleaning wipe or a cloth sprayed with an all-purpose cleaner. Get in the habit of making this the first thing you do in the morning before you turn on your computer. To remove dirt, dust and yesterday’s lunch from the keyboard, turn it upside down and gently shake it to dislodge the particles. An air duster is great in helping to remove all the bits and pieces that get lodged inside the keyboard.

Mouse: It is a good idea to clean the mouse every day before using it, especially during cold and flu season. Again, use a cleaning wipe or cloth sprayed with an all-purpose cleaner.

Monitor: Use a microfiber cloth, either dry or dampened with clean water, or a product specially formulated for computer screens. Other products may damage the screen. Clean the monitor several times a week, as a dirty monitor can cause eyestrain.

Printer: Think about how often you push the buttons on the printer and then match your cleaning routine to it.

Telephone: Even if you are the only one using it, it is still a great place for germs to hide and enter the body through the mouth, ear or nose. Clean it daily with a wipe or a solid surface disinfectant cleaner.

Clean the doorknobs of your office regularly.

Invest in disinfecting wipes to use. You might also keep a can of disinfectant spray in your office to spray on your trash can and other surfaces.

Finally, if you are sick, stay home! Do not spread your sickness with others at the office.

 Now is the time to be thinking about cold and flu season. Health officials are encouraging us to get our flu shot early. While everyone should get a flu shot, doing what we can at home and the office to prevent the spread of germs is important too! Do your part and keep yourself and your office healthy this flu season!

For more information on preventing the spread of germs, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

Here is a great recipe to help you get in the Fall spirit! It uses pumpkin and is easy enough for young children to make with a little supervision. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A and other essential nutrients.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

  • ¼ cup orange juice

  • ¼ cup low-fat or skim milk

  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt

  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin

  • ½ very ripe banana

  • Pinch of ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 ice cubes

  1. Put all ingredients in the blender.

  2. Cover tightly and set to medium speed.

  3. Blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.

  4.  Serve right away or refrigerate up to 4 hours.

                      Yield 2 servings


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.