Colds, flu and tummy bugs. We all have a bigger chance of catching these as autumn and winter comes around, but if you have an office based job you need to be doubly wary, as your workplace may be makingĀ  you ill in more ways than one.

Colder air and people spending more time indoors together are two of the reasons why we catch more bugs in the winter, with workplaces adding to the problem in their own way.

Bacteria land on surfaces via coughs, sneezes and hands, before other people touch these surfaces and transmit these bugs to their mouth or nose. Commonly shared equipment, such as keyboards, telephones, headsets, touch-screens, desks and printers, if not frequently cleaned, is especially likely to be passing these unwelcome gifts between employees.

The statistics for germs on devices and the ease with which they live on them are eye opening. There are 7,500 bacteria per swab on a computer keyboard, 25,000 microbes on every square inch of a headset and more than 1,500 on the humble mouse, compared to 5,400 bacteria per loo seat. Once on a surface the germs can live there for around 24 hours.

Taking a couple of minutes a day to clean the devices you use could decide whether a virus gets passed to you or someone else. You may think it’s the cleaners’ job but many cleaning contracts don’t include tech devices and even then there is no guarantee these are done every 24 hours. If you want to keep yourself germ free then a little preventative action is probably a great investment in your health.

Here are 4 quick and easy steps to take, ideally before you fire up your devices each morning:

Clean your computer keyboard

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Specialist antibacterial wipes and spraydusters are best for keyboards. Liquids can short circuit the motherboard and stop the keys working, so wet cloths are not recommended for any electronic equipment.

It’s worth holding a keyboard upside down over a waste paper bin and gently tapping it on the back to dislodge any dust or crumbs from between the keys. When you’ve put it back on the desk, take an antibacterial wipe and gently go over the keys. The right wipes will stop germs for 24 hours, giving you and your colleagues a good day’s worth of protection.

Wipe that mouse and mouse pad

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Use another wipe or a lightly dampened microfibre cloth to go over your mouse. Don’t forget the mouse pad will gather bacteria too and can also get sticky over time, so a little cleaning of this will also help your mouse move better. It is recommended that mouse pads are replaced each year.

Don’t forget any touch screens

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It is best to clean screens when devices are turned off as it’s easier to spot dirt and marks on a darker screen. You can buy multi-screen cleaning wipes in tubs, making it easy for the user to grab one and clean their screen in a matter of seconds.

Press lightly when cleaning as pressure on the screen can do permanent damage. Paper towels, loo paper or cloth are not recommended, nor is spraying liquid cleaner directly onto a screen.

And finally, phone and headset

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Headset and phone wipes are available in flat packs. Making these readily available at each workstation is another good and visible reminder for everyone to clean their telephone equipment each day. Ensure the headset is disconnected before wiping it all over and if it’s slightly damp let it dry before switching it back on.

The right specialist products will create a bug free surface that lasts up to 24 hours, which is impressive, but also a reminder that everyone needs to clean phones, headsets, keyboards and desk surfaces every day if they want to keep themselves and their co-workers protected.

For more details on tech cleaning products from VOW please visit www.voweurope.com

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