There are two
types of people in this world: those who regularly wash their office coffee
mug, and those who only take it off their desk to cover up the crusted coffee
stain at the bottom with a fresh pour, chasing away their shame with the
reasoning that the heat must kill the germs or something.
Depending on which type of person you
are, this will be either mildly annoying or more-than-mildly exciting:
As Heidi Mitchell wrote in a recent Wall
Street Journal column, it's fine to never wash your mug, as long as you're not
sharing it with anybody else.
Better than fine, in fact: It may
actually be the most sanitary option.
There are two caveats to that statement,
infectious-disease expert Jeffrey Starke, a pediatrics professor at Baylor
College of Medicine, told Mitchell:
One, it only applies if you're not
sharing the mug with anybody else. And two, "if you leave cream or sugar
in your mug over the weekend, that can certainly cause mold to grow" — in
which case, wash it out.
Otherwise, though, there's not really
much to worry about: "If I went and cultured the average unwashed coffee
cup, of course I'm going to find germs," Starke said. "But remember the
vast majority came from the person who used the cup."
Even if you drink from it while sick,
it's pretty hard to re-infect yourself with the same mug; most viruses don't
live long outside the body.
Which means that just letting your mug
live in its own filth may be a safer bet than the alternative: scrubbing it
with the disgusting communal sponge in the office kitchen