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Poor Office Hygiene: One In Five Employees Refuse To Use Workplace Toilets

Filthy kitchens, lack of cleanliness, and hygiene supplies contribute to dissatisfaction and health concerns among workers.

Nearly one in five employees refuses to use the toilet at work because of poor hygiene, a study has revealed. A lack of cleanliness, sanitary supplies, and toilet paper or hand towels means many workers go elsewhere or hang on until they get home. Meanwhile 22% avoid the kitchen because of splattered food and mountains of dirty dishes, with 37% even taking their own crockery to use.


The poll of 2,000 workers, commissioned by global hygiene and health company Essity, found 45% believe their workplace is a breeding ground for bacteria. Microwaves are the top office hygiene gripe, followed by filthy fridges, overflowing bins, dirty sinks, and moldy food in the chiller. Just under six in 10 (57%) said they are generally irritated by the state of their surroundings at work.


“During the Covid era it felt as though everyone took their personal hygiene, and the safety of others, far more seriously. At one point, every desk and meeting room in the office had hand sanitizers for staff to use, as well as frequent reminders to wash hands,” said Gareth Lucy from Essity, which provides a Tork Office Hygiene package.


“But oh, how quickly things change. This survey demonstrates a serious drop in office cleanliness, at a time when this should still be a number one priority. And workers are understandably frustrated at the conditions in which they are expected to function well in,” she added.


Kitchens were voted the worst areas for hygiene (34%), followed by toilets (30%), and communal areas (24%). Respondents were concerned about a number of ‘touch points’ within the office – with door handles, toilet flushes and keyboards considered to harbour the most germs.

Toilet door locks and lids, telephones, computer mouses, and light switches are also likely to pick up dirt.


Six in 10 of those polled feel more productive in a workspace which is spick-and-span – yet 39% regularly have to clean it themselves. As a consequence, 22% have complained to either management or HR about the state of their surroundings – although 70% believe it is the responsibility of the hired cleaners to make sure things are up to scratch.


Other common complaints about the workspace environment include the temperature (27%), switching lights off (14%) and getting the appropriate recycling bins (13%). Workers also raise concerns about single use items like plastic cups (10%) and wanting more recyclable things such as paper towels or sanitary products (9%).


However, the study found that some good habits gained during Covid still persist, with 36% still sanitize hands regularly and 35% making solo drinks instead of communal rounds. The study also delved into how office conditions change across different professions – and found those working in business consulting and I.T. were most satisfied with the cleanliness of their workspace, rating it an eight out of 10.


While employees in public services and administration were left dismayed at the lack of hygiene in their offices, scoring them less than seven. Those in I.T. are also most likely to enjoy ‘green’ workspaces, while transport and logistics staff claim theirs are below average.


“It is the responsibility of all to ensure a workplace is a hygienic, welcoming and clean place for everyone to be. But workplaces need to provide the right facilities that enable high standards of hygiene throughout all areas of the office,” said Gareth Lucy for Essity.



  1. Dirty microwaves
  2. Dirty fridge
  3. Overflowing bins
  4. Dirty sinks and washbasins
  5. Old / moldy food in the fridge
  6. Desks that are never cleaned
  7. Build up of all the dust in between computer monitors
  8. The sponge in the sink never being cleaned/replaced
  9. Half eaten food in the fridge/kitchen
  10. Carpets which need vacuuming
  11. Kettles that aren’t descaled
  12. Water on toilet floors
  13. The wrong things in recycling bins
  14. Drips on the toilet floor
  15. Windows which won’t open
  16. Sharing of cups and crockery
  17. Dirty kitchen floors
  18. Lack of toilet rolls / sanitary supplies / paper towels in toilets
  19. Lack of recycling bins
  20. Toilet roll not being put in holder and just left loose by the sink
  21. Lack of food waste bins
  22. Overuse of printer paper
  23. Anti-social hot desking
  24. Paper towels left on toilet floor
  25. Packets/rubbish on desks/in meeting rooms
  26. Spoons left in the sugar jar
  27. Trip hazards / belongings under desks
  28. Hand towels never replaced
  29. Water sprayed on the loo seat from when washing hands
  30. Leaky bathroom taps

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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