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The disgusting bacteria that’s lurking in your office

Even though you usually can’t see it with the naked eye, we all understand that bacteria is, in fact, lurking everywhere. Undaunted, the industrious folk at UK-based stationary office-supply company Viking decided to go ahead and show us anyway. 

They took it upon themselves to grow some bacterial cultures of the weird and wonderful bugs that they swabbed from everyday office-place items – phones, pens, photocopiers and desks – just to see what’s lurking right under our very fingertips.

The results were fascinating and predictably disgusting:

The gear

First, the office-supply scientists procured some agar-filled Petri dishes, cotton buds, alcohol wipes, tape, a label maker and antibacterial soap.

Next, they decided on the most interesting places around the office to test, settling on:

  • the hot water boiler
  • a computer mouse
  • a cleaned computer mouse (using generic desk wipes)
  • a photocopier
  • a keyboard
  • a desk
  • a main corridor door handle
  • a telephone mouthpiece
  • a chewed pencil
  • a chewed pen

The method

The cotton buds were sterilised with alcohol then allowed to dry (to ensure that no residual bacterial from the cotton buds made it into the agar).

The sterilised cotton buds were rubbed all over the sample area and then swiped in a zig-zag pattern lightly across the surface of the agar jell, inoculating the plates with the bacterial that was living on the different everyday items.



The dishes were then packed into a breathable cardboard box and put in a warm spot for five days.

The results

After just five days the experiment bore its revolting fruit.

Computer mouse


Hot water boiler/Office door

Chewed stationary

Phone and keyboard

Now go wash your hands. 

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

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