How to keep your workplace clean -- and yourself healthy -- during the novel coronavirus outbreak

Originally Published: 11 MAR 20 07:05 ET

(CNN) -- You may spend more waking hours at work than you do at home, but when was the last time you really, really cleaned your workspace?

Offices provide hundreds of microscopic hiding spots for viruses and bacteria -- the crevices in your keyboard, the button for your floor on the elevator, the communal fridge handle.

While the novel coronavirus is primarily transmitted between people, touching infected surfaces can pass the virus, too.

But don't call out sick just yet: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) have tips on how to properly disinfect work stations to keep yourself healthy and your workplace clean during a pandemic.


Wipe down your work station.


Before you start your shift, use an EPA-approved product to disinfect your desk, keyboard, computer mouse, work phone and any other objects or surfaces that you or your coworkers touch a lot.

But make sure you're disinfecting the right way. To work, the surface you disinfect must remain wet for a long period of time -- usually between 3 to 5 minutes -- and that'll require a lot of wipes.


Wash your hands. A lot.


Get ready to make lots of trips to the nearest sink. You should wash your hands after you eat, touch door handles or blow your nose, among many, many other actions. Whenever you can wash your hands, you should -- just make sure you're washing your hands correctly. Here's the proper way to do it.


Sanitize when soap isn't available.


If you can't leave a meeting to scrub your hands with soap, hand sanitizers are a fine substitute. But it's always best to wash with soap and water after a few pumps of sanitizer -- gels won't clean your hands like washing them will.


Save the handshakes.


The novel coronavirus is transmitted primarily between people, so avoid unnecessary physical contact. Refusing a handshake isn't ill-mannered anymore -- it's recommended. Flash a friendly wave, peace sign or thumbs-up instead.


Clean your smart phone.


What was all that hand washing and disinfecting worth if your phone is dirty? You're safe using a damp, soapy microfiber cloth to clean the screens and backs of iPhones and Androids (though Apple said this week that disinfectant wipes are OK to use on iPhones, too). Just avoid getting water in any of the ports.

There you have it. A little scrubbing goes a long way. But if you want to kill the most germs, note the difference between disinfecting and cleaning: Cleaning only removes viruses and bacteria from surfaces, but disinfecting wipes them out.

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