How a Pro Cleans a Desk

a clean desk with a laptop

We spend most of our lives sitting at our desks. Though you might think yours tidy, germs and bugs can be found throughout your workspace, hiding under the mountains of paper or amongst the old coffee cups. That’s not to mention the bugs lurking in the crevices of your keyboard.

Office cleaning is harder than it looks, but it is necessary given the age of the Coronavirus that we find ourselves in.

You might be surprised to learn; the average office desk contains 400 times more germs than a toilet seat. That’s 800 bacteria per square inch!

Interestingly, which bugs grow can be different depending on the local environment – and certain environments can breed some pretty nasty bacteria. So, whether you’re scrubbing down your desk in Timbuktu or you’re just doing a bit of office cleaning in Cambridge, it pays to know what you’re doing. You don’t need to hire commercial cleaners; follow this guide, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

Why Keep My Desk Clean?

If the risk of stomach bugs and other infections doesn’t motivate you, then perhaps your colleagues’ opinion will. No one expects perfection, but a tidy desk helps keep a tidy mind. It also helps maintain a professional image. If your workspace is littered with coffee cups and dirty plates, papers piles and a blur of post-its, then your colleagues might think you’re disorganised. You might even get a reputation as a slob, even if your appearance is immaculate.

Plus, it’s so much easier to function when you know where everything is, increasing efficiency and giving you plenty of room to lay out your work.

It’s not just about cleaning your desk like a pro; instead, a clean office desk is the sign of a pro!

Things You’ll Need

Now that you’re ready to start cleaning let’s work out what supplies you need to keep in your desk drawers.

  • Antibacterial wipes: the modern miracle of office cleaning, a cloth and cleaner all-in-one!
  • A regular cloth: if you prefer the old-fashioned way, a good jay cloth will do the job, though micro-fibre cloths are significantly better
  • Cotton swabs: ideal for getting into those tiny nooks on your keyboard
  • Compressed air: a can of compressed air is useful for clearing out dust from hard to get to spaces
  • Cleaning agent: a good quality cleaning spray will ensure your desk is disinfected
  • Polish: polish is very useful, particularly if your desk is made from wood
  • Water and white vinegar: a classic concoction, however, it does the job better than almost anything – add a dash of lemon juice to help improve the smell

Avoid waxes and oils on desks, even if wooden, as these can lead to further accumulation of dust. The only grease you’ll need is elbow grease.

Areas to be Disinfected


Every day our fingers clatter away on our keyboards, spreading all the germs we’ve picked up on our travels. It’s hardly surprising that 96% of keyboards in one study were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli and the antibiotic-resistant MRSA! But you don’t have to be a commercial cleaner to get rid of these bugs.

  1. Shake your keyboard over a bin to remove any crumbs stuck inside.
  2. Use compressed air to clean any remaining crumbs
  3. Use a cotton swab to run through the crevices – dip the swab in a cleaning agent
  4. Wipe the keyboard down with an antibacterial wipe or a damp cloth – remember not to make it too wet or else the moisture will affect the keyboard’s functioning


Follow similar steps as described for the keyboard, however, remember to remove the batteries before cleaning. Ensure all sides are cleaned, particularly under the buttons and mouse wheel, as these are often overlooked.

If you’ve got a touchpad on your laptop, be careful not to use too much cleaning liquid, as this can damage the laptop.

Phone and Headsets

Your phone and headset both pass from hand to mouth, meaning any bacteria can easily lead to infections. It also harbours bacteria from your saliva. One study found your mobile has ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats, and you wouldn’t put your face near one of those!

  1. If your phone has a case, remove and set aside
  2. Turn your phone off
  3. Using an antibacterial wipe or a cloth and cleaning agent, wipe down all the sides of your phone, paying close attention to any buttons or ports
  4. Wash phone case thoroughly and set aside to dry

For headsets, use compressed air to clean any crevices, alongside a cotton swab. Then wipe down the entirety of the headset as you did the phone. If a piece of the headset can be removed, do so and clean separately, before reassembling.

Stationery and Ornaments

For pens and other stationery, wipe down with antibacterial wipes or with a cloth and cleaning agent. If you’ve got a pen holder, use compressed air or a cotton swab to get into the hard to reach places, or else wash in a sink with water and soap. Ornaments can be polished clean with a cloth, or use a damp cloth and a cleaning agent.

Desk and Screens

Be careful when cleaning LCD screens, as chemical cleaners and some cleaning cloths can damage them. Instead, use a microfiber cloth with a small amount of diluted soap and water to clean the screen. Make sure there is not an excess of water, as the moisture will affect the screen’s performance.

For your desk, wipe down with an antibacterial wipes/cloth and cleaning agent. Make sure to remove all the clutter beforehand.

Papers and Other Clutter

Organise. Organise. Organise. Nothing looks more professional than a filing system. Don’t just put your papers back where you find them, create a system. Use stacked trays to develop a triaging system, so your office cleaning never becomes overwhelming again. Use ring bound folders or laminated files. If you don’t need some of the papers, throw them away. Any old paper cups can definitely be thrown out, as well as any other remaining rubbish.

Now your desk is clean and pristine, keep it that way. Adding a few personal ornaments can be a great motivator to keep your office clean. Remember to clean your hands, that way you won’t be spreading as many germs either way.