Lipstick print on coffee mug on computer desk

The chances of catching the flu virus from an office kitchen item are small, though not impossible, so you might want to avoid that communal coffee mug, according to an article on the Quartz website.

The flu virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spreads primarily through drops of liquid passed from a sick person directly to the mouth or nose of a co-worker.

You are far more likely to catch the flu from airborne particles, but picking it up from a contaminated object is still possible.

On your hands, the flu virus loses its ability to infect in as little as five minutes. Hard surfaces like plastic, metal, or ceramic retain the virus longer, with lab tests finding that the virus loses its power to infect within nine to 24 hours after contact, the article said.

Warm soap and water can kill surface bacteria, but the cleaning tools in dishwasher-less office kitchens can be a problem.

In fact, a 1997 University of Arizona study of the mugs in one campus office found that bacterial counts on the cups was actually higher after they were wiped with the office dish towel than before.

The damp sponge in the office communal kitchens is a hotbed of bacteria. And the the chances that the office sponge is being properly cleaned are slim.

And even with the best cleaning supplies, office mug hygiene is only assured if every colleague who uses one thoroughly cleans it upon return.

Read the full article here.