Employers may be able to reduce absenteeism by encouraging regular cleaning of often-touched work items and surfaces. Here are a few suggestions for cleaning and protecting yourself.
- Keyboards: Commercially, there are disinfecting wipes made that aim to get rid of bacteria contaminants on keyboards and mice. Look for ones that remove dirt, dust, dander, and biological pollutants. Note: Be sure to check with your IT Department for their recommendations on which products to use, as wet materials may interfere with keyboard functionality. For shared computer keyboard use, consider an antimicrobial computer keyboard, where silver ions are embedded into the plastic to resist bacteria. If this option is not available, be sure you take personal responsibility to wipe the shared computer keyboard down before you use it. To help remind yourself to sanitize regularly, try scheduling your email reminder program to alert you at regular intervals.
- Desktop Items: Commercial disinfectant wipes are effective in reducing germs and should be readily available on every desktop. Get into a habit of wiping down the entire desk and desktop items (phone, light switches, handles, etc.) at the beginning and end of each day, as well as before eating at the desk. As there is a tendency to use one wipe on consecutive surfaces, be aware that this can spread bacteria from one location to another. Studies recommend using one wipe, for one application, on one surface, then discarding.
- Hand Washing: It is a well-documented fact that frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness (Mayo Clinic). It requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn’t need water.
Hand Washing with Soap:
- Wet your hands with running water
- Apply liquid, bar or powder soap and lather well
- Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- Rinse well
- Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer
- If possible, use the towel to turn off the faucet.
Hand Washing with Sanitizers: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t require water, are an excellent alternative to soap and water. Be sure to choose a commercially prepared hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol (Mayo Clinic).
- Apply enough of the product to the palm of the hands to wet thoroughly.
- Rub hands together, covering all surfaces, for up to 25 seconds or until dry.
Kill Those Germs With Disinfecting Wipes: It’s essential to start by disinfecting all the surfaces in your cubicle or office. You can best accomplish this by using germ-killing wipes that contain bleach or alcohol.
You can easily make your own wipes:
- First, fold a stack of heavy-duty paper towels (or cloth rags) and place them into a resealable container, such as a zip-lock bag or empty plastic container.
- Next, mix a solution of 1/2 cup bleach to 2 1/2 cups of water and pour over your stack of paper towels.
- Let them soak through entirely, and then start using them to wipe down your desk, your keyboard, and your phone.
If you want an eco-friendly option, then substitute the bleach for white vinegar instead. As you may know, the uses of vinegar are many.
Do this once in the morning and once before you leave, and you’ll dramatically cut down the number of germs in your office.
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