According to Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, the average office worker has over 10 million bacteria living on its desk – that’s 400x more than the average truck stop toilet seat.


It isn’t just the gum stuck to the bottom, a study funded by Clorox Co found that the average desk has dangerously high levels of bacteria and viruses. Of course bacteria are not all bad, and common bacteria are found on every surface, but if COVID has taught us anything, it should be just how fragile our personal health, wellbeing, and the economy are when it comes to these microscopic dangers.

The Clorox study found that the average North American desk contained high levels of Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella, E Coli, Influenza, Coronaviruses, and fecal matter. Most shocking, there were higher concentrations of fecal matter on the average desk than on the average workplace toilet seat.


With more people spending more time at their desks – the average workweek has increased to over 47 hours, according to the Families and Work Institute – bacteria are finding plenty to snack on.

Feeling a little ill? Here are some more facts from Entrepreneur magazine:

You might think your desk is pretty clean, but take a look at what’s lurking:

  • Keyboards contain 70 percent more bacteria than a toilet seat.
  • Office phones host around 25,000 germs per square inch.
  • Office desks are more than 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat.
  • The area on your desk where your hands rest has around 10,000 bacteria.

Grossed out yet? The good news is there are easy ways to fight back against the germs:

  • Avoid using other people’s phones.
  • Don’t eat at your desk.
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

Are you brave enough to take a look at the rest of the germy secrets your office is hiding?

You can access elearning and instructor-led safety training to help employees do their part to improve your workplace cleanliness, and download this infographic to post up in your workplace to remind people just what is lurking in plain sight.