Just in time for a day of romance and chivalry, a study released Feb. 14 by researchers at the University of Arizona and the Clorox Co. advises men to forget the flowers and chocolates on Valentine's Day and instead "buy her disinfectant."
Yes, they actually went "there." According to the results of this study, bacteria levels were three times higher in women's offices than in men's. To blame? All the extra clutter in women's offices.
"What we found is that women seemed to have more 'stuff' in their offices, from makeup bags to pictures of family and purses on their desks," said Dr. Charles Gerba at the University of Arizona. "It added up to big numbers for women, even though their offices typically looked cleaner."
When it came to desktops and phones, germs were fairly gender neutral, found the study, but computer mice and keyboards had three to four times more germs in women's offices than in men's.
But it was "in the drawers," so to speak, that the gap really widened: Scientists found seven times more germs in women's desk drawers than in men's, with blame landed on stashes of snacks.
Men weren't blameless in their contribution to office dirt. Their wallets were the single germiest items in any office, four times dirtier than women's purses, which researches had bet would come in at the top. But, women still had germier pens, and -- get this -- exclamation keys on their keyboards.
Alas, if the tone of this study smacks of the maturity level of the "circle, circle, dot, dot" Cootie Shot you'd have once used to handle these icky boy/girl situations, fear not. This is but one of the hundreds of Valentine's Day workplace product tie-in releases that have crossed my desk in the past week, in this case selling Clorox Disinfecting Wipes.
While it doesn't mention is what harm might befall you if you start wiping down your female co-worker's cubes, offices and exclamation keys with said wipes, citing a study that called them dirty, a brief count of the items carried by people in line at my nearby drugstore just a few minutes ago should tell you all you need to know:
Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate: 7 Small teddy bears clutching red, stuffed hearts: 2 Single roses: 4 Mylar heart balloons on a stick: 1 Clorox Disinfecting Wipes: 0