Next time you reach for the coffee mug on your desk, remember, it’s a petri dish for filth.
That seemingly harmless “World’s Best Boss” cup may reduce the amount of paper waste you put into the world, but research from the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona suggests it might not be so good for your health if you’re not washing it enough.
Experts agree you should take home your mug for a good scrub daily.
“Colonies of germs are living in your favourite cup,” Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at University of Arizona, tells Men’s Health.
Gerba’s research has shown that office mugs play host to all kinds of germs — even faecal bacteria.
Typically, the bacteria land there after the mug has been cleaned with a bacteria-laden sponge or scrub brush. The act of washing it becomes your very downfall.
This bacteria can survive in the mug’s nooks and crannies for three days, Gerba says. (It’s worth noting, however, that bacteria is everywhere, and a lot of it is perfectly harmless.)
Business Insider spoke with Jim Osgood, president and CEO of Klean Kanteen, for tips on how to best rid your mug of germs. His company makes those eco-friendly, stainless steel travel mugs that you see seemingly everywhere — and come coffee-connoisseur recommended.
“The easier it is to clean, the more likely you are to use it,” Osgood told Business Insider during a retreat for companies honored by Best for the World, an annual list that celebrates businesses that use sustainable practices and serve as a force for good.
So buy one a mug or bottle that doesn’t have too many parts.
And to avoid the nasty build-up on a sponge, bring your mug home every night. If it’s dishwasher safe, load it in and make sure the machine goes through a dry cycle.
The dishwasher will reach hotter temperatures than your kitchen sink, which is better for eliminating germs, according to Osgood. Gupta agrees, but tells Men’s Health hot water, soap, and a paper towel will suffice if a dishwasher is unavailable to you.
While not the most intuitive choice, the dishwasher may be more environmentally friendly than hand-washing. It uses less soap and water per item when the load is full.
So you don’t have to give up your reusable-mug habit. Just be less gross about it.
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