How Often Should You Replace Your Office Coffee Mug?

The perfect coffee mug to keep at work is lovingly protected from thieves in the office break room and is often treasured by its owner for years, if not decades. But with so much talk about environmental pollutants and “sick” buildings, is it possible that the cherished coffee mug could be harboring nasty germs, or worse? One expert, Jeffrey Starke, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and until last year was the director of infection control at Texas Children’s Hospital for 22 years, weighs in on the potential hazards of an old mug of joe and when washing that ceramic cup is bad for your health.

Where Germs Lie

The surface of a typical coffee mug isn’t terribly conducive to harboring germs, says Dr. Starke, but when you fill it with coffee, sugar, cream—then touch it with lips and hands “you provide the opportunity for organisms and bacteria to fester,” he says.

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