Hey, you know that mug you use at the office? The one you use for your coffee or tea, that you maybe wash out at the sink every night? The one you protect because you don't want anyone to use it and contaminate it with their other-person germs? Well, I have bad news for you: Your coffee mug is crawling with filth.
Professor Charles P. Gerba says that "twenty percent of office mugs carry fecal bacteria." EW! "And 90 percent are covered in other bacteria." UGH! "In an office, most people tend to clean their cups with bacteria-laden sponges or scrub brushes instead of a dishwasher. That bacteria transfers to the mug and can live there for three days." OMG!!!
Did you know this?!?
Okay, so I've kind of suspected this all along. We don't have a dishwasher here in the office. (I'm not complaining! I'm not!) But we do have a sink with dish washing liquid, hand soap, and oh yeah, one of those sponges Dr. Gerba warned us about. Did I mention the kitchen sink does not get hot water? (Still not complaining! Just pointing that out.) I think our set-up is probably a lot like many other offices around the country.
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I've used the office sponge a couple of times. But it scares me. I think it may be alive. It haunts my dreams.
So I've devised a mug-washing hack. I fill my mug part-way with hot water from the water cooler (it's what we use for tea). Then I squirt in some dish washing liquid, and then just enough tap water so I don't scald my hand. Yeah, my hand. I literally wash my mug with my bare hand, because a paper towel would just fall apart and I want to feel with my fingers that lipstick and dead skin really are coming off the inside and outside of the mug.
All good, right? NO, of course not. Because Dr. Gerba also recommends you not nurse your coffee for more than an hour or so -- because you're just breeding bacterial colonies in your mug. And that is kind of bad news for me because nursing a mug of tea for longer than an hour is exactly what I do, almost every single day. How am I supposed to find the time to get up and wash out my mug and carefully assemble yet another perfect mug of loose-leaf tea after an hour when I'm WORKING HERE?!? I guess that's why my office also supplies cans of soda.
Do you have a dishwasher at work? How do you clean your office mug?