Last Updated JUNE 2024

Office Building Germ Hot Spots

Office surfaces and objects that are touched by lots of people throughout the day should be cleaned and disinfected daily in order to help break the chain of germ transmission. This article explains how targeting “hot spots” with hand and surface hygiene, is a key step toward reducing the spread of germs.

Placing hand sanitizer and signage in offices and common areas is a step in the right direction. But studies show it simply isn’t enough to make a real impact. Objects that are touched by lots of people throughout the day − such as doorknobs, elevator buttons and handrails − should be cleaned and disinfected daily in order to help break the chain of germ transmission.

No matter which surfaces they may touch throughout their day, give your employees and visitors peace of mind by providing cleaning and disinfecting solutions to help break the chain of germ transmission.

Cleaning these hot spot areas will help reduce germs in office buildings

Did you know?

  • In the span of 24 hours, the average adult touches 7,200 surfaces1 and touches their face 552 times2.
  • Keyboards harbored 8,900 bacteria3 per keyboard.

  • Mobile phones harbored 6,300 bacteria4 per phone.

  • Nearly 95%5 of surveyed adults do not wash long enough to thoroughly clean the bacteria and germs from their hands.
  • The average desk has 400 times more bacteria6 than a toilet seat.

What are some things to take note of in and out of the restroom?

In the restroom

  • Washing hands with soap and water is one of the best defenses against the spread of germs.
  • Paper towels are critical to proper hand hygiene, as they can remove up to 77% of the bacteria that remains on hands after washing7

Outside the restroom

  •  Hand sanitizers are placed in high-traffic areas where germs are easily transmitted.
  •  Disinfectant wipes kill germs on some of the dirtiest office hot spots.

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surface objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects.* This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Steps to make it easy to drive cleaning and hygiene habits

Step 1

Clean the surface of commonly touched objects — use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. 

Step 2

Disinfect the surface — use appropriate disinfectants. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and dwell time.

For more information on how to make your facility truly exceptional – a place where everyone feels equipped and empowered to contribute to a more hygienic environment, visit our Equip for the New Normal page

*Non-Food Contact Surfaces


1. Zhang, N., Li, Y. and Huang, H., 2018. Surface touch and its network growth in a graduate student office. Indoor air, 28(6), pp.963-972
2. A frequent habit that has implications for hand hygiene Kwok, Yen Lee Angela et al. 2015. American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 43, Issue 2, 112 – 114
3. Pyrek, K.M., 2014. Cross-Contamination Prevention: Addressing Keyboards as Fomite
4. Martínez-Gonzáles, N.E., Solorzano-Ibarra, F., Cabrera-Díaz, E., Gutiérrez-González, P., Martínez-Chávez, L., Pérez-Montaño, J.A. and Martínez-Cárdenas, C., 2017. Microbial contamination on cell phones used by undergraduate students. Canadian Journal of Infection Control, 32(4)
5. Borchgrevink, C.P., Cha, J. and Kim, S., 2013. Hand washing practices in a college town environment. Journal of environmental health, 75(8), p.18.; Hand Washing Practices in a College Town Environment, Journal of Environmental Health
6. U. of Arizona study by Gerba, C. 2002. First In-Office Study Dishes The Dirt on Desks. n=7,000, study conducted in offices located in New York, San Francisco, Tucson and Tampa
7. University of Westminster, “Changes in the number of different types of bacteria on the hands before and after drying using paper towel, continuous cloth roller towel, warm air dryer and jet air dryer” (2010)



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