Bad office habits that could be making you ill at work

Bad office habits that could be making you ill at work

Ever wonder why you get the flu and colds (or worse) each year? Well, one of the main causes could be our office – a battlefield between us and bacteria. We spend a lot of time interacting with people and not to mention, snacking on our desks, leading us to come into contact with plenty of bacteria on a regular basis.

If you think that your office space is clean enough, think again! Imagine the amount of bacteria you have accumulated from the minute you step into the office lift, to opening the door of your office to switching on laptop and finally to the pantry for a nice cuppa coffee. With tons of movements in and out of the office, and countless hands touching the doorknobs, surfaces and coffee makers, keeping your workplace clean indeed requires extra effort. So how can we keep your desk clean and your office bacteria free?

Helpling, the global leading online platform for on-demand home services, has compiled a list of office hygiene hacks to make it easier for you to keep your office clean and get back to work.

Disinfect your monitor screens, keyboards and mouse

keyboard cleaning

Most of us are guilty of not keeping our computers and accessories clean. Cleaning your computer is important not just for aesthetic reasons, but it also prolongs the computer’s lifespan – and just maybe your own. Studies have also shown that your computer can be covered in up to ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. One of the most common reason is due to a lot of office workers spending their lunch hour eating at their desk – often surfing the web or continuing to type at the same time. This leaves food residue all over the work station, particularly on mice and keyboards, making them ideal places for nasty bacteria to breed and live in.
Hence, it is advisable to clean and disinfect your computer on a regular basis:


Ensure that your laptop or computer is still switched off. Then, remove loose debris and dust with a compressed air canisters. If you do not have that in your office, simply reach out for a Post-It and run it between the keys. For better results, fold the sticky part in half to collect any dirt that are lingering between the keys. Finally, wipe the keyboard down with a wet wipe or an antibacterial wipe.


Your mouse is like a magnet attracting anything you have touched. Aside from food residues, imagine the amount of dead skin, fingerprints and transmitted bacteria that is living on your mouse? Wipe down the mouse with a slightly dampened microfiber cloth, making sure that moisture doesn’t get into any openings. Then, disinfect the mouse with a disinfectant wipe and let it dry before using it.

Screen cleaning:

Turn off the monitor and wipe down the screen with a damp microfiber cloth or wipes specifically made for monitor screens. Avoid antibacterial wipes as they contain alcohol that could remove the screen’s protective coating.

Clean out your coffee machine

coffee maker

Nothing is better than a good cup of coffee to perk you up at work. However, a mouldy cup doesn’t sound appetising at all. A 2011 study found that 50% of coffee makers had nasty mould growing in the reservoirs, which have been proven to have a higher germ counts than your bathroom door handles and toilet seats. Before you rush to clean out the bacteria, do note that hot water alone isn’t enough to get rid of the germs and mould.
The most effective way to clean your coffee maker is with vinegar, which sanitizes and decalcifies the mineral buildup from tap water. Finally, clean the outside of the coffee machine with the damp cloth and a surface cleaner! Give it a gentle clean every fortnight for a fresh mold-free cup!

Stop using your phone in the loo!

using phone

Most of us cannot stand to be separated from their mobile phones, even for a few minutes. Similar to keyboards, smartphones has also been found to have ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. This is due to the fact that 75% of us use our mobile phones in the bathroom. It is also shocking to find out that the dirtiest handphone contains 170 times more faecal coliforms than acceptable levels! Our advice is to leave your phone in your bag, next time you go to the bathroom.

Switch your devices off and remove your phone covers before cleaning. Clean your phone regularly with a microfiber cloth. For a deeper clean, disinfect and remove excess dirt with a mixture of water alcohol or water and vinegar. Soak your silicone phone covers in warm, soapy water, this should help to remove any discolouration. When you’re done with cleaning, leave the phone to dry completely before turning it on again.

Crumb free Work desk

work desk

Created a mess after finishing your takeaway? Did you know that your desk has about 10 million germs? To clean out your lunch mess, cookie crumbs and even coffee spills use wet wipes such as antibacterial or baby wipes. Always keep a packet at your desk and swipe them over your desk when you think they deserve a wipe down. Nothing is worse than a sticky table.

Your coffee mug is not as clean as you think

We all have that one office cup or water flask we leave on your desk that we use for our coffee and tea. The one we protect because we don’t want to share and contaminate it. But how often do we take them home for a good wash? I’m sure most of us are guilty of washing them with just tap water. But did you know that 20% of office mugs contain fecal bacteria? That is why cleaning your office mug is more important than you think.

How often should you clean it? The answer is everyday! It is advised to t

ake the mug home daily to be washed in the dishwasher, and make sure it goes through the dry cycle, which uses the hottest temperatures and zaps every last germ.

However if you prefer leaving your coffee mug in the office, here is how you can clean it properly: To clean it, fill your cup or water flask with hot water from the water cooler at the office pantry. If you do not have one at the office, use a microwave instead. Next, add some dishwashing liquid into it and just a little tap water and leave it for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off.

Disinfect Doorknobs


Doorknobs are often overlooked when it comes to office cleaning and it’s frightening to think that these items come into human contact several times a day, but rarely come into contact with a cloth, making them a hub for bacteria you find in your office! The consequences? Cold viruses and worse. It is also a fact that these type of viruses can survive on this type of surfaces for around 24 hours or longer.

Disinfect these surfaces with a dab of vinegar on a cloth.

Neutralise the bad office odours

Girl holding nose smell bad

Coffee spills, leftovers from lunch or trash odours can cause a stench in the office and there’s nothing more annoying than that. To solve this problem, add a few drops of lavender or lemongrass scented essential oil to a spray bottle and fill it up with water. Shake it well and spritz away at the area that smells the most.

Bonus tip: Lemon fresh your stinky trash bin

lemon slices

Your dustbin is often over-used but highly neglected! If the smell from your bin is bothering you, all you need is some lemon to solve this stinky situation. The citric acid in lemons acts as a natural disinfectant that removes dirt and odour. Simply slice a lemon in half and rub the inside of your trash bin for a fast and eco-friendly clean.

Stephanie is an avid traveller who loves to explore new places and embrace different cultures. Being a huge fan of the sun, sand and the beach, you will always find her at one of the beach destinations during her off days.