Keeping It Clean: Areas with Most Germs

This time of year, it seems almost everyone is getting sick. The office has become an orchestra of different coughing sounds, schools are getting doctor’s notes left and right, and the most commonly used phrase has become, “Don’t come near me! I don’t want to get sick!” Unfortunately, avoiding someone who is sick is not the answer to a healthy winter season. It’s important to be proactive about controlling the germs around you, by knowing where, what and how to clean.

The home and the office are two places where germs can spread very easily. They are where a lot of us usually spend the most time, after all. So what exactly is the place with the most germs at the home or office? The toilet? The refrigerator handle? The…couch? According to microbiologist Charles Gerba, a Professor at the University of Arizona, “The best way to get covered in germs is to sit on the couch.” This may sound surprising but, according to Gerba, “porous fabric on couches and other upholstered furniture is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses” (Misovic, “Control Germs at Home and in the Office”). Carpeting is another common breeding ground for pathogens, with “200,000 bacteria per square inch on a typical carpeted floor.” To put that into perspective, a toilet seat has “about 49 bacteria per square inch.” Other areas in the home where the most germs can be found include cutting boards, kitchen sponges, floors, and sinks, and bathroom sinks and floors. Areas in the office where many germs can be found include door handles, computer keyboards, and surfaces in the breakroom.

There a lot of different types of surfaces and items that need cleaning, which means there a lot of different methods and chemicals to use. When it comes to cleaning porous surfaces, such as the fabric on that pesky couch, Gerba recommends “using dry steam vapor.” This method immediately kills germs and does not require any dwell time like chemicals do. For hard surfaces, a variety of disinfectants can be used. The most common are hydrogen peroxide, chlorine bleach and quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats.” Quats are commonly used for cleaning in industrial applications, or food service and medical facilities. Hydrogen peroxide is effective against most pathogens, but “it does not kill spores such as C. difficile.” Chlorine bleach is one of the most commonly used cleaners around the home or office and is very effective at disinfecting surfaces. When using any cleaning chemical, it is recommended that you wear gloves, especially when using bleach, as it can be an irritant. Always read the product label for proper instructions on how to use cleaning products, as well.

Source: Misovic, Kathleen. “Control Germs at Home and in the Office.” Cleaning & Maintenance Management. 7 Dec. 2017,