Dirty Desks: Cleaning Hacks for Your Cubicle

Dirty Desks: Cleaning Hacks for Your Cubicle

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Sarah Landrum
Dec 4, 2016

Whether you work in a tiny cubicle, the corner of your bedroom, a spacious corner office or a fully customized home workspace, your desk is likely a source of both stress and germs.

Okay, forget "likely." We'll leave as a "maybe," but your desk is "definitely" a source of germs.

You probably have a routine for cleaning your home and a rough idea of when things need to be washed or scrubbed. But your workspace? Chances are good you don't have solid habits for its sanitation and upkeep.

So where do you begin? What needs to be cleaned, and how often should you clean it? For those looking to get their cubicle-desk-office-workspace in shape, here's a quick cleaning overview to get you on the right track.

Daily Tasks

  • Wipe down the items you touch most frequently. This can include the telephone, mouse and keyboard. A damp microfiber cloth might suffice if it's just you, but if coworkers use your space or borrow your items, you definitely want to use a disinfecting wipe to stop the spread of germs.
  • Clean food and drink items. It doesn't matter if you'll use that bottle again tomorrow—clean it tonight. Don't try to fool yourself. Anything you use to eat or drink with should be cleaned daily.
  • Do a quick tidy-up. Before you leave for the day, get your workspace ready for the morning. Throw out trash, file away non-essentials and leave your desk as clear as possible. The less items to collect dust, trap germs, hide spills or distract you from priority tasks, the better!

Weekly Tasks

  • Deep clean the telephone. How many times a day do your hands, cheeks, ears or lips touch your phone? How often does someone else use your phone? Break out the disinfectant cleaner and q-tips to really get in every nook and cranny of this germ breeding ground.
  • Disinfect high-traffic areas. After your phone, your mouse, keyboard and desk probably get the most traffic per day. Start each week with a clean slate. Wipe these surfaces down with disinfectant wipes Friday right before you leave or first thing Monday morning.
  • Empty the trash. If a cleaning crew empties your trash, skip this step and leave those unsung heroes a thank you note instead. If it's your job and you eat at your desk, consider bumping this up to a daily or twice-a-week task to cut down on odor and pests.

Monthly Tasks

  • Deep clean your keyboard. Break out the canned air, Q-tips, microfiber cloths and mild cleaning solution. If food crumbs are a big issue, stop eating at your desk! Or, at the very least, use a dish towel or cloth napkin to shield your keyboard while eating.
  • Deep clean your mouse. Again, Q-tips, microfiber cloths and mild cleaners will help you get every gritty crevice clean again. Oh, and hopefully it goes without saying, but turn off and/or unplug electronics before cleaning them.
  • Clean your screen. Your screen is in the spray zone for every cough and sneeze. Sure, you don't touch it as often as your phone, but that's no reason to let germs linger. Just be careful about what cleaners you use, since some of them can harm your screen's protective coating.

Quarterly or Yearly Tasks

Whether you're into spring cleaning, fall cleaning, quarterly cleaning or leap-year cleaning, it's important to take the time to attend to those overlooked sources of dirt and grime. Set up a schedule that works for you (use calendar reminders so you don't forget) and take a little time to clean, evaluate and organize your space.

  • Clean organizers and personal items. Paper sorters, pen cups, photos and knick-knacks can gather a lot of dust and harbor a fair number of germs. Take the time to empty and clean organizers and wipe down personal items.
  • Only keep one or two pens on your desk. The fewer pens your germy co-workers can grab, use and put back, the fewer germs make their way to you. Pick two and tuck the rest into a desk drawer.
  • Clean cords and power strips. Use a microfiber cloth to get rid of the dust bunnies (scratch that—dust colonies) that reside on cords, plugs and power strips.
  • Evaluate your organization. Be honest: do you even have a work organizational system in place? If you do, is it working for you? Look around for junk you can get rid of, paper records you can digitize and areas where the right app can help you out.

Your workspace should be a motivating, hardworking space when it's in use and a clean, calm space when it's not. They may not be glamorous, but regular cleaning and organizing routines will help you stay healthy and get the most out of your workspace.

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