5 Nasty Things at the Office (and How to Clean Them!)


Many of us spend countless hours in an office, working away and doing what we need to do, to pay da bills..

And while many offices have regular cleaners (to some degree or another), offices are never really, truly clean.   Here’s my take on the nastiest things in your office, and of course, the best way to clean them! 

#1) The Telephone

No surprise here – I have one of those stereotypical office phones with a million lines and side buttons.  The more buttons, the more areas for gunk to build up!  Further to that, the phone is designed to sit right by your face, so if it is not tended to on the regular, it can become filled with a lot of undesirable microscopic bits and pieces.

To keep your phone clean, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and swab the area around the button, the receiver and the mouthpiece.  Then, spray a microfiber cloth with disinfectant, and wipe the entire phone down including the body and the entire receiver.

If you take over a new office space and notice (unthinkable) ear wax built-up in the receiver or gunk in the mouthpiece, take a dry cleaning toothbrush, gently brush out the debris and then proceed to clean the phone as described above.  Now, it’ll be all yours!

#2) The Keyboard.

Also probably no surprise to you, the keyboard is crumb king of the office.   I wish I had a dime for every crickle and crackle that has fallen between the keys of this keyboard…I eat way too many meals and snacks directly overtop of it.  To see an in-depth keyboard cleaning tutorial, watch my video on it here.

Unplug your keyboard and stand it upright.  Starting at the top, blast your keys starting from top to bottom with a can of compressed air (don’t keep your face too close, or else you’ll get blasted with your own nasty keyboard crumbs!).  Let them all fall to the surface, you’ll wipe them up after.  Once this is done, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to swab around each key (this is an alternative to removing each key, which is terrific but time-consuming).  Finish up the job by spraying a cloth with disinfectant and wipe the keyboard.  Now, wipe up that terrible crumb collection and plug your keyboard back in.  Note – if your keyboard is cordless, remove the batteries so that whatever buttons you press, your computer won’t know the difference.

#3) The Mouse.

Just like the keyboard and phone, the mouse is another great example of something we use every day, but something we probably don’t clean nearly as much as we should! If you indeed would like to clean your computer mouse, we’ll apply the same principles we did to the other two items to the mighty mouse.  Turn it off, or pop out the batteries.  If you have debris stuck in the mouse, use some compressed air to blast it out or a dry cleaning toothbrush.  Hold the mouse upright and brush down so that you don’t re-populate your mouse with its own debris.  This is great to to around track wheels and buttons.  Once done, take a microfiber cloth sprayed with disinfectant and wipe the mouse down.  If you notice dust built up on the bottom of your mouse, use a small and sharp item like a toothpick or a corner of a sticky note to scratch it out.

 #4) Anything in the office kitchen

Now, I know I said we were covering 5 things here – but there’s a bunch of things in the office kitchen which I feel I should bring to your attention.  So we’ll count this as an umbrella point, cool?  Unlike the items in your home kitchen,  all of the items in the office kitchen are communal and that means they are used by everyone.  The point I’m trying to make here is that the faucet, the coffee maker, the microwave, the water cooler, the fridge, even the vending machines and the water fountains – they all get touched by you and they get touched by everyone else in your office.

If you are concerned about any of these areas, you have a few options.  Hang on, I’ll get to those shortly.

#5) Pretty much everything else at the office

Okay so the wheels have completely come off of this “top 5” blog I suppose,  because the truth is there are way more than 5 things in your office that are dirty, grimy and greasy; any point of contact like a switch, or a button, or a handle can all harbour germs.  Yes, your office is a big soup of OPS (other people’s stuff) that you really can’t control.  You don’t know their hygiene and cleanliness practices yet you are exposed to it each and every day.  The good news is, you are probably not sick every day so your body is strong enough to handle most of the germs and bacteria you are exposed to, but you can certainly take some measures to make things a little cleaner and prevent those cold and flu bugs when ’tis the season.

Your office probably has a cleaning service – but the question is – do they clean ALL of these areas? Maybe they catch everything by the sink – but do they clean the light switch in the boardroom on a regular basis? What about buttons on the photocopier – or the hand rail on the stairs?  Manage your expectations about your office cleaner.  They are hired to do basic work (unless your company pays more for a more detailed service – lucky you!).  However, if folks in your workplace are constantly getting sick it may be time to have a chat with the office manager, who in turn can have a chat with the cleaning service and ensure things like points of contact and heavily used electronics are being effectively disinfected.  After all, what manager wants all their staff off with colds and flus?

Especially when you are dealing with OPS, it’s near impossible to avoid germs entirely, but there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your exposure to them and in addition, you’ll even lower your risks of getting sick:

  1. Leave Sanitizing wipes out – normally I don’t use these (because I am a fan of washing cloths and re-using them), but at the office, you can keep them around to quickly wipe whatever needs to be wiped in the kitchenette, bathroom or even the office.  That way, no one has to bother with laundering cloths and towels (unless you have a linen service, then that’s another story!).
  2. Make a disinfectant spray bottle – this is a little more extreme, but you may find it quite handy to have a bottle of disinfectant in the bathroom for anyone to use at any time.  That way if someone is a little more sensitive to germs or there’s a bug going around the office, the product can be used to wipe down the bathroom quickly before or after using it.  Heck, it can be used anywhere anyone feels comfortable around the office!  I have been known to track around my office with a paper towel and bottle of disinfectant whenever someone gets sick.  It takes me 10 minutes and I clean all critical points of contact.  If one of my staff are off sick, I certainly don’t want two to be off at the same time so 10 minutes spent disinfecting is a good use of my time.
  3.  Wash you hands – yeah, you knew this one was coming.  It’s the best solution because you are in complete control of the cleanliness of your hands and it’s super easy to do.  Doctors all tell us it is simply the best defence against colds, flus and other nasty bugs.  Check out my video on how to properly wash your hands if you want to see how the pros do it ;).

Without naming names, who’s  the grossest character or what’s the grossest thing (or place) at your office?

Amazon links to items I used for these tasks:

Compressed air canister:

Cotton swabs:

Disinfecting wipes:

Rubbing alcohol:

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Melissa Maker is the host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube, editor-at-large of CleanMySpace.com, and founder of Clean My Space (a well-known Toronto-based cleaning service). She's been knee-deep in the cleaning game since 2006. Follow Melissa: @MelissaMaker on Instagram, SnapChat & Twitter!