ATLANTA, Ga. - Ever wondered how long cold and flu viruses can live on the hard surfaces around you? You may not want to hear the answer. Experts say a cold virus can live up to 6 hours on your desk. But a flu virus can survive a whopping 24 hours on a hard surface. So, with cold and flu season upon us, we asked a local doctor to help us clean up our germy workspaces.
FOX 5 web editor Katie Muse Burk is pretty vigilant about keeping her desk clean. On a germaphobe scale of 1 to 10, she's says she's probably "an 11."
"I don't touch anything until I wipe down my desk, every single morning." Katie says.
Not all of us are quite so careful. So we invited Dr. Tami Prince with American Family Care into our newsroom to help us flu proof our workspaces. She's an urgent care physician who sees people coming in with respiratory virus every day. And Prince says she's constantly thinking about germs.
"I am probably OCD about it." Dr. Prince says. "I clean everything, including arms rests on my seats, clean my entire desk, clean my phones, I clean everything."
Dr. Prince recommends putting together a "flu kit" for your office. First, she says, pick up a bottle of hand sanitizer and a disinfectant spray. She recommends a hydrogen peroxide cleaner. Prince says you want a product that will kill 99% of germs.
Next up, she says, pick up some sanitary hand wipes and some paper towels. Steer clear of sponges, which can be a breeding ground for germs.
And Dr. Prince says she always brings her own pen to work, and she's not big into sharing pens.
"I keep my own pen and I sanitize my own pen." Prince says, "And I don't pick up anybody else's pen!"
At Katie's desk, Prince gets busy wiping down her desk top with a sanitary wipe.
Then, switching wipes to prevent the spread of germs, she moves on to Katie's computer keyboard, mouse and mouse pad. She says a lot of people don't realize they need to regularly wipe down their mouse pad.
With a third wipe, she tackles Katie's phone, cleaning of the cradle, the handle, the buttons, even the cord.
"Especially the cords," Dr. Prince says, "People forget the cords."
Prince says Katie is doing a great job keeping her workspace clean, noting she even has a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer tucked in a drawer. She'll need that in the months to come.
Katie earns a "A." and, hopefully, a cold and flu-free winter.