View Full Version : Women's office desks 3-4x more germ-infested than mens', report shows.

February 15th, 2007, 11:29 AM
Study: Office desks havens for bacteria

Image source: How clean is you computer? (http://workplace.gojo.com/media/resources/desktop_germs.gif)

February 15, 2007

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Your office desk harbors far more bacteria than your workplace restroom, and if you're a woman, chances are your workspace has more germs than your male co-workers', a new research report shows.

Women have three to four times the number of bacteria in, on and around their desks, phones, computers, keyboards, drawers and personal items as men do, the study by University of Arizona professor Charles Gerba showed. Gerba, a professor of soil, water and environmental sciences, tested more than 100 offices on the UA campus and in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon and Washington, D.C. The $40,000 study was commissioned by the Clorox Co.

"I thought for sure men would be germier," Gerba said. "But women have more interactions with small children and keep food in their desks. The other problem is makeup."

Don't get Gerba wrong: Women's desks typically looked cleaner. But the knickknacks are more abundant, and cosmetics and hand lotions make prime germ-transfer agents, Gerba said. Makeup cases also make for fine germ homes, along with phones, purses and desk drawers.

Food in desk drawers also harbors lots of microorganisms, and it is more abundant among female office workers. Gerba found 75 percent of women had munchies in their desks.

"I was really surprised how much food there was in a woman's desk," he said. "If there's ever a famine, that's the first place I'll look for food."
The news isn't all negative for the fairer sex.

Gerba found the worst overall office germ offender is men's wallets.
"It's in your back pocket where it's nice and warm, it's a great incubator for bacteria," Gerba said.

Another hot spot for bacteria in men's offices: the personal digital assistant.

"Men tend to play with their Palm Pilots more," Gerba said. "I think they're playing video games or something."

The average office desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat, Gerba said.

Gerba said using a hand sanitizer and using a disinfectant on office surfaces helps, with 25 percent fewer bacteria found on surfaces that were regularly disinfected. Once-a-day use should be sufficient.

"You don't have to go crazy with it, but with the key areas, desktops, phones and keyboards probably need to be disinfected once in a while," he said.

2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


February 15th, 2007, 11:50 AM
How many people get sick from the "germs" they found?

Unless you are licking your desk or rubbing it into an open wound, I do not think you have to fear too much about the bacteria they are finding and culturing.

They always do these studies and scare the crap out of everyone without actually telling them that the BACTERIA that are on their desks is not what gets them sick, but the VIRUSES that are airborne, or on someone elses belongings when THEY are sick are the true culprits.

So keep things tidy, and guys, try to keep your wallet (and PDA) out of your mouth.

(PS, me is guy... ;) )

February 15th, 2007, 11:51 AM
Some years ago, a male coworker of mine had an adjoining workstation with a female worker. They were large work areas, with at least two monitors.

He was a quiet guy, and she was a pack rat. Her possessions grew weekly, and he didn't mind ceding some of his own space to her. She also took over space on an adjacent wall next to a print station.

She had plants, lots of them, and a gallon-sized bucket of "plant water," a concoction I would have guessed was scooped out of the Black Lagoon.

I became involved as a shop steward when, naturally, the bucket was tipped over under Joe's desk. He gave me a tour of her possessions and said, "If you don't do something about this, I'm going to strangle her."

February 15th, 2007, 11:58 AM
They always do these studies and scare the crap out of everyone without actually telling them that the BACTERIA that are on their desks is not what gets them sick, but the VIRUSES that are airborne, or on someone elses belongings when THEY are sick are the true culprits.

Agreed, especially because the study was commisioned by Clorox Co. Not exactly an impartial sponsor, eh?

February 15th, 2007, 12:42 PM

Great for when your kid stuffs a peek-a-chu in their gaping war wound... :crosseyed:

February 15th, 2007, 12:45 PM
See, I completely bypassed the germs aspect of the article, and found the messiness aspect more compelling - especially since it goes against conventional wisdom.

I mean, do we even have to mention mens' and womens' rooms in bars?

I know my apartment would seem a lot smaller if my wife wasn't around, the extra clutter more than making up for her absence.

So is this another way women rebel from stereotype - trash the office?

[somewhat tongue in cheek here]

February 15th, 2007, 03:04 PM
... The other problem is makeup.

:eek: :eek: :eek:

February 15th, 2007, 04:05 PM
At an old job, there was this woman who would use my phone when I wasn't there for some reason. I always knew when she did it because there was orange colored goop in the holes of the mouthpiece.

I kept lysol and alcohol wipes in my desk after that.

February 15th, 2007, 08:27 PM
Nothing worse than a woman putting her pocketbook on a table, or your desk. The thing has probably seen more than a few restroom floors. Yucck!

February 15th, 2007, 09:16 PM
That's what the hooks on the back of the door are for Bob. ;)

February 15th, 2007, 09:58 PM
It appears as if Bob knows more about ladies room stalls than does Meer.:D

Females can't depend on stall hooks because any of the following can (and often does) happen:

The hook has goo all over it.

It's broken in half, which makes you wonder: if a bag is heavy enough to do that, how can a female be strong enough to carry it?

The screw holding up the hook is loose; if you hang your pocketbook on it, the hook will turn upside down and dump the bag on the floor.

The hook is so teeny that it no pocketbook handle ever manufactured can hang on it.

The hook has been ripped off. The possibilities...:eek:

Finally, sometimes the women's room stalls have hookless men's room doors, which begs the question: do the stalls in the mens room have hooks?

February 15th, 2007, 10:24 PM
LOL ^^^ Yes they do, and are in the same variety of conditions as the hooks the ladies' rooms :cool:

February 16th, 2007, 08:24 AM
What kind of rundown, gross bathrooms are you using Rapunzel? Sheesh. :D

Most women I know are very particular about what bathrooms they use - with that kind of scrutiny, I doubt they're placing their pocketbooks down on a nasty floor.

Then again, it all might have to do with the cleanliness of the woman.

February 16th, 2007, 10:59 AM


February 16th, 2007, 01:14 PM
Heh. That last line was really not directed at Rapunzel. I was speaking in generalities to concede that maybe we're all right and we're all wrong - that it really does depend on the woman.

There is a constant battle with women in my office who leave the bathroom disgustingly dirty. But on the other end of the spectrum, I know women who won't use any public restroom.

February 16th, 2007, 01:21 PM
What exactly do these women who won't use a public restroom do? Wear diapers? And enough with the astronaut jokes, here.

February 16th, 2007, 01:27 PM
Bladders of steel, they must have. They've also mentioned use of the "tripod" maneuver when there is no avoiding it. To minimize contact with any surface.

Ask any women what she thinks of using the bathrooms in Penn Station or something similar... See her reaction. :p