How clean is your mouse?

Testing of desk areas in a number of different office environments showed that computer mice were home to more than three times the levels of bacteria-related contamination found on the average toilet seat, and twice as many as on a flush handle.

Keyboards, phones and office chairs were also swabbed, with keyboards proving the second most rife with bacteria.

In total, the survey found that 40 per cent of the desks tested were home to at least one item with very high levels of bacteria and surface contamination which posed a risk of cross-contamination. Male office workers were found to have dirtier work stations, with average levels of surface contamination more than 40 per cent higher at men’s work stations than women’s.

Initial, who conducted the survey, believes that the growing trend for ‘Al Desko’ dining (eating lunch at your desk) is making work stations less hygienic, and could be making office workers more prone to illness. Hand hygiene is a crucial part of preventing illness, and Initial recommends regularly cleaning both hands and work stations with antibacterial wipes or gel to prevent against cross-contamination.

Peter Barratt, Technical Manager at Initial Hygiene, comments: “It is now common for office workers to spend their lunch hour eating at their desk, often surfing the web or continuing to type at the same time. This leaves crumbs and other food residue all over the work station, but particularly on mice and keyboards, making them ideal places for bacteria and other microorganisms to survive and multiply. In addition, because they are electrical devices, these items aren’t cleaned as regularly or as thoroughly as other parts of the office, or even as the desks themselves.”

Initial’s new UltraProtect range of sanitising products offers the most effective protection available against cross-contamination of harmful bacteria. The products (a gel hand sanitiser, foam hand sanitiser, hand and surface wipes) kill germs by destroying their cellular structure and forming an invisible barrier against a wide range of bacteria and viruses. Unlike other sanitisers, they provide continuous protection against recolonisation for up to six hours on hands and 24 hours on hard surfaces.