Burn it with fire
EC: Your Dirty Office Mug Is Grosser Than You Think
Credit: Image by bluebus via Flickr

When is the last time you washed out your dirty office mug? No, I don't mean, how many times have you thought about washing your grimy, coffee- and sugar-crusted dirty office mug—how many times have you actually gotten up from your desk at the end of the day, walked over to the sink, and given your college alumni mug or Best Dad mug (or, if you're that kind of awesome co-worker, your toilet coffee mug) a decent scrubbing? If your answer ranges from "never" to "I swear I did it sometime last week," welcome to our degenerate club of unclean human beings.

Let's be real with one another for a second: Why is it that the dirty office mug on your desk is seemingly immune to the kinds of germs, bacteria, and general icky business that you'd rush to clean if it were a mug inside your own home? Especially when you've got to contend with loads more germs and pathogens in an office place than your own home? How many coffee ring stains does it take before you realize that they're not actually endearing and are just an excuse to not go to the kitchen to wash up after yourself? If the answer has anything to do with inadvertently ingesting poop, then boy have I got some motivation for you.

It turns out that your dirty office mug is more than just an eyesore. It's a petri dish of disgusting bacteria you'd rather keep away from your mouth. Although coffee alone isn't much of a germ-magnet, the lingering bits of milk and sugar that remain on the inside of your dirty office mug are vectors for all kinds of ungainly bugs and bacteria. Ever flip your keyboard over and shake it out? Yeah. If you're not cleaning that either, how could your mug be any cleaner?

But wait—it gets worse. Even if you're diligent about rinsing out your mug in the office sink, you're probably making things worse. Most communal office kitchens offer a lackluster array of cleaning materials, making a proper washing all but impossible. And if unless you work at a sponge factory, I can guarantee the one in the kitchen hasn't been replaced since you were an intern. That means that, in nearly every situation, your communal sponge is the best source for picking up traces of fecal matter while trying to clean your stuff. According to Charles Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, office mugs are covered in feces and most bacteria colonies can live for up to three days after a wash.

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Credit: Jeff Keyzer/Flickr

If you're looking to repent and change your ways, there's still hope. All you need to do is ditch the sponge and opt for a good rinsing the way you used to do in your dorm's bathroom sink when you were too lazy to go to that communal kitchen too (seeing a pattern here?). Take a good dab of dish soap, hot water, and one or two fingers as your scrubber. Your hands will be the cleanest option you've got for de-griming that dirty office mug, and you'll reduce the risk of making matters worse than they were before. And when you're done, you can finally go talk to Bill in Accounts Payable about his insufferable nose-picking habit. We all see you doing it, Bill.