Returning to the Office? Here's How to Deep-Clean Your Desk

Declutter and de-germ your office or cubicle.

Dread it or embrace it, the email has arrived: It's time to return to the office. After weeks or months of sitting idle, your workspace is going to need some cleaning and refreshing to get rid of dust, grime, and bacteria, not to mention the clutter you may have left behind.

Think of it as a reboot and a chance to not only make your workspace healthier, but also make it more pleasant and efficient. By the way, these tips work for tidying up study areas and workspaces at home too!

What You'll Need:

  • Empty boxes
  • Trash can
  • Disposable electrostatic dusters
  • Vacuum
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Small soft-bristled brush
  • Dishwashing liquid

How to Deep-Clean and Declutter Your Workspace:

Sort and declutter

Start at one side of your workspace and move in a clockwise motion. Assess everything and, if possible, clear it all away and sort it into boxes for easier cleaning. The memos, scribbled notes, and papers stacked on your desk are probably no longer relevant. Sort through each one and recycle, shred, or file them as appropriate. Take a look at the "important" objects you've collected. Family pictures, inspirational quotes, and knick-knacks may feel out-of-date. Be selective and keep only what feels good right now.

Take home personal items like toiletries, extra shoes, or clothes for cleaning. If you have storage drawers, don't forget to go through them as well. Your secret snack stash is past its expiration date. Check office supplies (pens dry out) and restock them if needed.

Dust and vacuum

Even if a cleaning crew has made a sweep through the office before your arrival, it's still a good idea to get rid of dust that may remain after you've decluttered. The easiest way to dust is with an electrostatic disposable duster. Electrostatic dusters are safe to use on computer monitors, laptop screens, lamps, chair frames, and all types of surfaces. Do not use a paper towel for dusting, especially on electronics, because it can leave fibers behind and scratch sensitive surfaces.

If you have access to a vacuum with a hose attachment (or a handheld vacuum), vacuum inside the drawers and use the upholstery brush to go over furniture upholstery and cubicle walls. Always vacuum the floor last to capture fallen dust.

Clean and disinfect hard surfaces

Now that the dust is gone and you won't be spreading it around, it's time to give hard surfaces a good cleaning. Unless your work surface is unfinished wood, it can be cleaned with a disinfecting wipe. Go over the surface making sure that it looks thoroughly wet and remains wet for about four or five minutes. If one wipe isn't enough, use a second one and allow the surface to air-dry. Repeat the process for drawer interiors, trays, and hardware pulls.

To clean your keyboard and other computer peripherals, check the manufacturer's recommendations. Start by powering down the computer and turning the keyboard upside down over a trash can. Give it a good shake to loosen dust and crumbs. You may need a small soft-bristled brush or a can of compressed air to help clean between the keys.

Most manufacturers recommend using a disinfecting wipe (wring it gently first to remove excess cleaning fluid) or a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean the keyboard. Don't forget to wipe down the mouse, mousepad, headsets, earbuds, remotes, and your office desk phone. Avoid getting liquid cleaner inside any of these electronics.

Finally, whether it is in your workspace or the break room, wash your coffee cup and any other dishes and throw away anything you have left in the communal refrigerator!

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