ImpactOffice Blog

Is that lipstick on your coffee mug? No, it’s fecal bacteria.

Posted by Blog Contributor on Mar 6, 2013 9:23:00 AM

Is that lipstick on your coffee mug?  No, it’s fecal bacteria. 

by Jennifer Nakao

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A long time ago, like back in the 1600’s when everyone spoke with a British accent, humans decided to develop microscopes in order to look at really small things that the human eye alone cannot see.  Since then, we have been finding fecal matter all over the place.  We somehow manage to leave an uncanny trail of microscopic poo on everything and anything.  Money, bed sheets, fast food, door knobs, cell phones – all covered in feces.  A recent study at found that even our office coffee mugs have traces of fecal bacteria.  What a way to start your morning!   The study goes on to say that 90% of our office mugs contain other repulsive germs and that this is likely a result of washing mugs with the community dish sponge or brush. 

While reading this article I immediately thought of the first office I worked at after college.  I was at this office for nearly three years and the dish sponge was never replaced.  No doubt there were fecal bacteria on that sponge.  Fortunately, I drank Starbucks everyday because I was 23 and didn’t care about saving money for retirement.  But I digress. 

It’s not surprising that office dishes are so gross because often times this is the sponge available for use in the break room:

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And it’s not like we give our mugs a thorough washing either.  We’re busy bees with deadlines, needy clients, micro managers and important Facebook status updates to post so when it’s time to wash our coffee cups, we basically dump out the coffee, give it a once over with a fecal ridden sponge and then toss the mug onto an equally germ infested dish rack for drying.

Admittedly, the office is not exactly a sterile work environment, not even close.  And much like the babies sitting in day care, it’s the reason we’re always struggling with a runny nose.  Regardless, it seems that we should have more control over the cleanliness of our coffee mugs, an item that we place on our lips every single day. 

Men’s Health suggests that to ensure a poo-free mug, take your coffee cup home every day and wash it in the dishwasher.  A straightforward solution for those who can remember this task, but let’s get real, that just creates more work.  There are other options available to keep our coffee-drinking employees a little healthier. 

Have disposable coffee cups in the kitchen and make sure everyone knows they’re recyclable. Yes, we leave poop on light switches and car keys but we’ll be damned if we don’t do our part for the rain forest.  Make sure your office kitchen is always fully stocked with brand new dish sponges or brushes and have them replaced regularly.  If your office is lucky enough to have a dishwasher, encourage your employees to load it with their cups at the end of the day and set it to wash before leaving.  And finally, promote healthy hand washing, which is likely the root of all fecal matter evil.  There are great products available that can motivate folks to wash their hands, including quick-fix hand sanitizers and smell-good soaps and lotions.

Much like how you bring a black light to a hotel room to see the overwhelming grossness surrounding you, I’m curious enough to bring my very own microscope to the office to inspect keyboards, phones and staplers. What will I find?  I think we know the answer to that question.  For now, let’s swap out our old dish sponges and make sure nothing is in our morning coffee but milk and sugar.  


About the Author

jennJennifer Nakao /Website.

Posted in:   Break Room Supplies,   Break Room,   Coffee,   Coffee Service