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How clean is your chair?


How Clean Is Your Chair?

Millions of us spend around 8 hours a day sat in the same chair at the office, blissfully unaware of the dangers we're exposed to. Knowing that the typical office worker spends around a quarter of their year tied a desk, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that your office chair is one of the dirtiest places you're likely to sit.

Research suggests that the workplace is one of the unhealthiest places you'll inhabit during your lifetime and your office chair is no exception. Offices are a breeding ground for germs with modern style compact workspaces and chairs harbouring more bacteria than toilet seats!

Telephones, desks, keyboards and mice are typically cited as the worst culprits for spreading germs in the office, however chairs are an unsung hero and home to tons of bacteria that are rarely sanitised correctly. Given that your hands and feet are in daily contact with your chair arms and castors, it's crucial to clean these parts regularly to avoid spreading germs and bacteria, particularly if you share a chair with other colleagues.

Germs In The Workplace & Common Office Bugs

There's a staggering 21,000 germs per square inch on your chair, desk and keyboard. In fact, the average office desk harbours 10 million bacteria, 100 times more germs than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat. Common bacteria found in the office include:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – commonly found in man-made environments like the office. Causes illnesses for those with weak immune systems
  • Staphylococcus aureus – found in the office where there is contact with skin on items such as keyboards, chairs and door handles
  • Actinomycetales – found in water and can be transferred from one surface to another
  • Norovirus – not a bacteria, but a virus commonly found in the office. Transferred by food and water

The main causes of germs and contamination at your desk are poor personal hygiene (neglecting to wash your hands) and eating lunch at your desk. Crumbs and spills encourage the growth of millions of bacteria which can lead to stomach bugs.

Given that many of us snack or eat lunch at our desks, we should really take desk cleanliness more seriously, yet only 20% of people clean their workspace before eating.

With that in mind, there's no wonder the workplace is ranked as one of the unhealthiest places you're likely to inhabit on a daily basis. To make matters worse, 1 in 3 people go to work when they are sick which increases the liklihood of passing germs to colleagues.

Office Bacteria Contribute To Sickness In The Workplace

Office bacteria and unhygienic working conditions are a 'key contributor' to the 131 million working days lost each year in the UK to illnesses including colds and flu - that's an average of 4.4 sick days per employee. This costs UK businesses somewhere in the region of £29 billion per year.

80% of common infections that lead to employee sickness are transmitted by touch with the common cold being the cause of 22% of UK sick days.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, hygiene expert and visiting professor at the University of Salford suggests that the average office desk and chair are a prime breeding ground for infections - bacteria and viruses can multiply on hard surfaces, remaining infectious for up to 24 hours.

She urged people to disinfect their chairs, desks, telephones, keyboards and computer mice as a better cleaning regime could result in significantly fewer sick days.

Office equipment such as telephone handsets, computer keyboards and desks, which are hotspots for viruses and bacteria, and other hard surfaces in regular contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected regularly using anti-viral and anti-bacterial products such as Dettol Disinfectant Spray which will help to reduce the risk of picking up colds and flu.

Office Chair Care & Maintenance

To extend the life of your office chair and reduce the number of germs you're sitting in, we've pulled together a few tips for general chair cleaning as well guidelines for maintenance of fabric, plastic and chrome chair parts.

General Chair Maintenance

Avoid direct sunlight to protect fabrics and faux leather upholstery and do no stand too close to prolonged heat sources (radiators or heaters) as this can affect the life of the product.

Chair Fabric Maintenance

Regular vacuuming and dusting of fabric chair coverings will help prolong the life of upholstery and maintain a manufacturer's guarantee.

  • Fabrics should be vacuumed on a regular basis
  • Dust and vacuum fabrics to stop dirt entering the weave and damaging the upholstery
  • Keeping dust particles to a minimum will help to reduce germs that can multiply on your chair

Chair Plastic Maintenance

Plastic is hardwearing but regular dusting will keep it clean and free from dirt.

  • Plastics should be wiped regularly with a clean warm soapy cloth and then dried immediately
  • Cleaning fluids and detergents should be avoided as these may affect the colour
  • Do not clean or remove moving parts as this may damage their performance

Chrome Chair Maintenance

Polished metals are generally resistant to damage, but dusting is still essential.

  • Dust regularly to maintain sheen and reduce scratching from dirt
  • Wipe regularly with a clean warm soapy cloth to remove germs and then dry immediately with a non-abrasive cloth
  • Avoid cleaning fluids and detergents as this may affect the finish

Office Cleaning Routines That Stop Germs In Their Tracks

There are lots of reasons for you to keep a clean and tidy business office. From a visual perspective, it's better for clients and also promotes productivity in the workplace. From a health and hygiene point of view when you can't use a commercial cleaning service, it's a good idea to setup a regular cleaning routine. Here's an office cleaning routine that you can adapt for your business.

Before you start

  • Choose a time to clean when the office is quiet to avoid working around people. This will make the job easier and cause minimal disturbance to your colleagues
  • Gather all cleaning chemicals and equipment needed
  • Ensure you have everything you need before you start cleaning

Daily cleaning tasks:

  1. Remove paper, stationary, plates and cups etc. off your desk and put away in the appropriate places
  2. Hoover up areas if there is a lot of dirt visible
  3. Disinfect the kitchen sides and make sure no washing up has been left
  4. Disinfect the phone, keyboard and mouse chair and desk surfaces etc. these items have most germs as they are in regular contact with skin
  5. Remove stationary from your desk because it gets rid of clutter and prevents colleagues from stealing it
  6. Empty recycling bins

Weekly cleaning tasks:

  1. Dust all surfaces: chairs, desks; filing cabinets and window sills
  2. Empty bins and clean around the area if needed
  3. Wipe down desks, phones, keyboards and computer mouse etc. with disinfectant wipes or spray a micro fibre cloth
  4. Clean windows with a glass cleaner to remove all marks and fingerprints
  5. Hoover carpets and mats
  6. Polish desks, tables, chairs and wood furniture
  7. Wipe down door handles and light switches
  8. Wipe down hardware computer and printer
  9. Disinfect surfaces
  10. Remove food, plates, bowls and cups from your desk

How Long Should Your Chair Last?

Estimating how long a chair should last before it's ready for the office furniture graveyard is not at exact science. The lifespan of your chair is dependent on the quality of the parts used in its construction, how often it's used and how well it's looked after.

The chair warranty offered by a manufacturer will also give an indication as to how long a chair will last. Typically, a chair with a 5 year warranty should last for 7 to 8 years. You can expect a chair with a 10-year warranty to be trouble free for 12 to 15 years.

Common problems that poor quality chairs are more susceptible to include:

  • Gas lifts that don't work or gradually deflate over the course of the day
  • Broken castors that make your chair uneven or impossible to roll around
  • Faulty arms that won't adjust up/down or maintain the position you want
  • Flattened seat foams that lead to uncomfortable sitting positions
  • Upholstery that doesn't hold up to everyday wear and tear

A cheap chair might seem like a good idea at the time, but may end up being a false economy when it needs replacing after 1 to 2 years of use.

Isn't It Time You Replaced Your Chair?

If you're looking for a good quality office chair backed by a 5 year UK manufacturer's warranty, checkout our range of next day office chairs.

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