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Eeek! There’s a germ on my desk!

The bacteria and germs are out there, just not where you might think.

With a new wave of H1N1 expected this fall, it’s worth noting where all kinds of germs lurk in your classroom. In 2006, the non-profit NSF International took its microscope to two Michigan elementary schools to measure the general bacteria population on different surfaces. Roll over the bubbles below to see what they found.

Water Fountain Spigot
Cafeteria Tray
Cold Water Faucet
Hot Water Faucet
Cafeteria Plate

Computer Keyboard

Toilet Seat
Student’s Hand
Animal Cage

* Units are number of aerobic bacteria per inch


This year, NSF’s microbiologists widened their scope and swabbed surfaces in 26 public places. Thanks to your school custodians, schools starred in the comparison. School bus seats practically sparkled with fewer than 10 bacteria per square inch, as did books and basketballs. Still quite clean were desks, gym mats, and computer mice.

But leaving schools behind, they found a little germ factory on the video game controls in movie theaters—551 bacteria per square inch. (Proof that those games aren’t so great for mind AND body.) But the very worst, most disgusting, just say no for germ’s sake, was the public sandbox, where NSF’s analysts found a horrifying 7,440 bacteria per inch!

Fortunately, your classroom doesn’t resemble a sandbox. And it’s not too hard to keep it from breeding like one. Check out these tips from veteran custodians on fighting germs in the classroom.