#985: My coworker is leaving her makeup all over a shared phone.

Dear Captain Awkward,

This is a weird problem, but in my workplace, there’s an office phone that’s shared by everyone–though usually it comes down to me and one other coworker who spend the most time in this area. She’s started leaving these obscenely thick, full-facial-imprint layers of makeup on the phone. I don’t wear makeup, and I don’t appreciate getting it all over my sleeves or my face if I absentmindedly reach over to answer the phone–plus, you usually can’t see the layer of makeup until you’ve picked up the receiver and it’s too late. The backside of the phone looks fine–it’s the part that’s actually in contact with your face that’s a disaster zone. I’ve been just wiping the phone off every so often, but it’s only gotten worse, and frankly, I’m tired of cleaning up after her facial mess. It’s just gross.

I tried to be tactful and casually ask if she’d spilled something on the phone, but I’m pretty sure she had no idea what I was talking about and may have come to the conclusion that someone had gotten Cheeto dust on the receiver. At that point, I had to bail out of the conversation because I was having trouble keeping a straight face. I’ve talked to other coworkers, but no one seems to know how to deal with her. She’s got a history of overreacting to the smallest things, and we’re trying to do this without upsetting her. Help!

Hello!

Hinting doesn’t work. Talking to other coworkers doesn’t work. But this is solvable!

Here’s your plan:

Buy a container of wet wipes of some ilk – something that won’t reek or make you break out in hives if it touches something that’s going to touch your face – and put it by the phone.

Start wiping the phone off before and after you use it. Ask your coworker to do the same. Wiping down shared office equipment is a good, normal practice that can (hopefully) help the office cold or Norovirus from spreading and everyone should do it more frequently than most of us do.

Hey Coworker, I keep finding makeup or some other residue on the shared phone, can you make sure to wipe it off after you use it and I’ll do the same?

If she gets upset at a pretty reasonable request like that, let her get upset. Treat her like you expect that she’ll be cool about it and stop walking on eggshells and talking to everyone but her. Don’t talk about it with other coworkers until you’ve talked to her directly and given her a visible tool to use to fix the problem.

If she overreacts, denies there is a problem, or refuses to wipe it off after she uses it, use one of the wipes and show her the gunk. You can leave the door open to plausible deniability – “I don’t know who’s leaving the stuff behind, but I definitely don’t want it on my face and you probably don’t want it on yours, can we help each other out here, thanks!?!” – or you can pull that door shut by taking it to a supervisor. You’re not causing the problem by asking for this.

118 comments
  1. S said:

    Try to allow a little room for the fact that your co worker will probably be embarrassed by this. Being confronted with messiness is not a great feeling. (says a very messy person.)

    Plus this is a very PERSONAL mess. If you are wearing enough makeup that some of it gets left behind from picking up a phone receiver you are probably a person who is very concerned with appearances. And finding out that your concern about appearances is wiping off on other people’s faces? Not a great feeling.

    Plus it seems like that this is both a personal annoyance and a THING in your office. You’ve talked to other co workers about it, you might have turned it into some kind of inside joke. (This is a thing that happens, not trying to shame you for it.) Anyway It’s possible that she’s also picking up on some of that, she may feel isolated at work. Feeling insecure and isolated can make people react to things in ways that aren’t expected.

    I’m not trying to say you should put up with this mess or other bad behavior because oh this poor woman. But understanding where someone is emotionally can be helpful with trying to address issues like this. Making it a community effort to keep the phone more hygienic keeps her from feeling singled out, isolated, mocked, or embarrassed.

    I think the Captain’s scripts here are great for that.

    • stellanor said:

      Either coworker is wearing a lot of makeup or coworker has skin like mine that is like GTFO MAKEUP and makes everything try to slide off. In which case coworker may not be wearing that much makeup but is probably still super self-conscious about it. It’s really awkward when your makeup is always trying to come off your face.

      (Apparently my skin prefers to live wild and free without anything like MAKEUP or SUN BLOCK getting in its way.)

      • My skin is like that as well. Not only will stuff not stay on, I feel like I’m suffocating when I try to wear makeup. Gratefully, I’ve been blessed with pretty good skin and I’d like to keep it that way, which is hard when sunblock won’t stick. Guess it’s good I’m not usually a day time person!

        • nottakennotavailable said:

          I banished makeup from my life several years ago for a multitude of reasons, not least of which was that I, too, get that suffocating feeling from wearing it.

          I have NOT been blessed with good skin, so I try and find amusement in the fact that the loud and proud acne which has plagued me for over half my life now results in me getting carded routinely and having the bartender stare at my ID for a long time to make sure the DMV didn’t type in the wrong birth decade. My oiliness does make it hard to keep sunscreen on, though, which is a problem for someone who lives for hiking and skiing in the Sunburn Guaranteed or Your Money Back zone known as the Colorado Rockies!

          • Neurite said:

            I realize I may be the obnoxious “but have you tried…?!” person here, but just in case you *haven’t* yet tried it, some mineral sunscreens can be extra-good at sticking to skin. I use one for my toddler, and one day I had forgotten to bring my own sunscreen and just used his, and daaang. After two showers, that stuff was still firmly on my face.

            Lots of baby sunscreens turn out to be mineral sunscreen (though not all are – check to see that the active ingredient is zinc oxide, at least 20%), but there’s adult branded ones too. Yes, they usually do leave a whitish cast over your skin, at least at first, but depending on the situation/activity/context, that may not be a major concern.

            Of course YMMV, and my sincere apologies if you were aware of this already and I’m just harping on stuff you already know.

          • Have you tried yoga or natural family planning?

            -ducks from the Captain’s banhammer-

          • nottakennotavailable said:

            @Neurite: I actually had *not* tried mineral sunscreens, and since I came home from a hiking expedition a couple days with a Rudolph-bright nose, I’ll have to look for some the next time I go shopping. Thanks!

            @Glomarization: To hell with yoga, but does being asexual count as NFP? :p

          • Neurite said:

            (Apparently out of nesting, though other comments nest further… odd)

            Glomarization, that was exactly what I was worried I might sound like. If despite my disclaimers I still came across that way, the Captain may want to delete my comment. I’d totally understand.

            Though it looks like it may have been a new/potentially useful tip for at least one person? nottakennotavailable, fingers crossed that it’ll work for you! stellanor does have a point that some people react badly to the mineral stuff, either acne or allergies. Here’s hoping it works for you.

            And Michelle, parasols definitely need to make a comeback! I have two (and hey, and umbrella will work in a pinch).

        • Parasols are pretty. Make your own fashion trend.

          Seriously, in the days before sunblock, people managed by making sure they were always in the shade. It’s not perfect, and UV rays can still get through, but it’s better than an ineffectual mess because your skin rejects it.

          Of course, parasols don’t work for construction workers, and most hard hats are not wide-brimmed. Bummer.

          • stellanor said:

            Chemical sunscreens slide off my face and mineral sunscreens make my face explode into violent fits of acne. I am also the poster child for high melanoma risk, and have a tendency to sunburn severely with little provocation (I once turned lobster-red in Japan, to the astonishment of my homestay family — don’t think they’d ever seen a human turn that color). I stick to the shade and am the proud owner of both a wide-brimmed straw hat and a slightly less wide brimmed cloth bucket hat. Luckily my arms and legs hate sunscreen less than my face so I can get away without dressing like I’m playing Lawrence of Arabia.

            Although I did once get a spot of sun poisoning and felt ill every time the sun hit my skin for a week after, and dressing like Lawrence of Arabia was in fact the best solution to THAT — I rocked baggy white shirts and a scarf on my head for a few days.

          • Are we twins?

            I have literally had to call in to work, “naked,” because I could not get dressed. “Sorry, I went to the pool two days ago, and I still can’t wear anything but the swimsuit I was wearing that day, and it is sooo gross now, so I’m just hanging out in my bedroom alone.”

            Yes, my co-worker did laugh at me, but when she saw me the next day, dressed but still bright red, she stopped laughing. In front of me. I have no idea about behind my back, but heck, I’m sure I looked hilarious.

            I went on a vacation to Key West, and snorkeled on the second day. Spent the next day thanking God for sending a tropical storm, so I didn’t feel like my time cooped up was “wasted” because I couldn’t go out and do beach-type stuff, anyway. I spent the rest of the trip glad I had worn a swim DRESS, rather than a swim SUIT, and I wore that “sun dress” for days, and then showered in it, and called it “wash and wear,” and finally the burn peeled off, and I was my usual “did you just see a ghost?” pale again.

            I got back to work, and people literally refused to believe I had gone to Florida. Dude. I LIVED in Florida for years, and was just this pale. It’s because I avoid the sun, or else cover up, and when I can’t cover up, I do minimum SPF 50. And sometimes, such as when you’re snorkeling for hours, it is 1) not enough, and 2) impossible to put on your own back.

            I call myself “Lobster Girl,” whenever it’s swim-time. And I really really love the shade. Also indoors. With air conditioning. LOVE my indoors with air conditioning. Vitamin D? Who needs it?

  2. Anne Shirley said:

    As someone that works in an office, I think this is exactly the right path to take. Make using wipes A Thing We Do rather than A Thing You Need to Do Because You’re Dirty. Perhaps LW can do it themselves before or as they mention it to Coworker, to visually enforce the idea that this is a team activity.

  3. policychick said:

    This is sound advice. One way to think about it is, it is not personal! It is not personal to you (you’ll clean up the phone too!), or others who use the phone (they should clean up too!) and consequently nor should it be personal to her.

    I freelanced at a small ad agency that had one small bathroom kinda -right next to- the creative bullpen, and it was unisex. Regardless of gender, the seat AND LID were expected to be put down after use. There was ample Lysol etc., and it was expected to be used (because otherwise there could be unfortunate smellies for the folks in the bullpen).

    Along with these very simple posted rules, the sign said the following: “We all work here. You don’t want to clean up after me and I don’t want to clean up after you. Let’s all be considerate of the next person. Who might be the boss.”

    Seemed to work.

    • Andie said:

      Just wanted to add, if you have a shared bathroom and are iffy about Lysol or other air fresheners due to potential respiratory problems, you can also get drops that go in the toilet bowl before use that are supposed to be good for killing/masking smells.

  4. Charlene said:

    Personally, I’d go with a more direct comment. “Co-worker, your lipstick/foundation is getting all over the phone. This isn’t safe for anyone else or their clothes. In future you need to wipe the headset clean before you put the phone down, every time without fail.”

    That said, I would not suggest a wet wipe meant to be used on skin. Not only are most insanely, intensely allergenic, they don’t sanitize and they often contain oils that can degrade plastics.

    • BarlowGirl said:

      I think that would make Coworker very defensive and not listen honestly. Foundation is not exactly the plague or a bodily fluid. It’s not really “unsafe” unless you have an allergy.

    • Marna Nightingale said:

      This is true, but diaper wipes would be fine.

      Or, for a not outrageous sum, a product exists for this very purpose.

      LW you can also sell this on the grounds of reducing the spread of The Dreaded Office Sick. The other good news is, this WILL actually reduce the spreading of The Great Office Sick, which if your office has as many parents of young kids as my spouse’s does, will improve everybody’s quality of life.

      A short story: some years ago WisCon, a science fiction con I go to regularly, had an outbreak of Norovirus. On consultation with Public Health it was decided to keep the event going rather than scatter hundreds of possibly infected people to the four winds where they could spread it further and might be caught travelling, away from the care they’d need (this being a real consideration because people come from other continents and the further away from the Norwalk source you live the sicker you get because you have no resistance built up).

      Public health also gave them a list of measures to take with food handling and bathrooms and so forth to stop the spread.

      The point of this story is: nearly ten hears later, WisCon still takes these precautions, not for fear of another Noro outbreak, but because *almost nobody comes home from WisCon with ConCrud anymore*.

      In other words, you should probably be wiping your phones anyway.

      • Bobbin Ufgood said:

        Isn’t there a great subplot in one of the Douglas Adams books about an entire society that is wiped out by germs spread on telephones because they sent all of their low-level people (including the people who sanitize the phones) here — or something like that? Seems oddly relevant.

        • clorinda said:

          Yes! The banished mid-level people turned out to be the ancestors of Earth humans.

        • And a phone-cleaning business is the one Nigel in Spinal Tap would have started if he hadn’t made it big in music.

    • policychick said:

      Well, the LW specifically asked for ways to avoid direct ‘confrontation’ with the coworker, who apparently can take some comments quite personally – so I’m unclear on how your suggestion would work for LW. It may work great for YOU, which is awesome!, but maybe not so much for LW.

      • While this exact wording may be heavy on having an opinion on the idea,the LW does need to be more direct. Avoiding directness often prevents easy solutions in these situations. Just say “from now on help me by wiping down the phone before and after use. Don’t want either of us getting sick”. Focus on the problem. And if she reacts poorly, just stick with it. Directness and caring are both possible. Soft heart plus strong limits.

        • spd said:

          What’s the benefit of being direct about coworker’s makeup specifically in this particular case? It sounds like coworker is kindof sensitive and while sure, there are benefits to being direct about what you don’t like about someone’s behavior with sensitive people in order to not train them that freaking out will lead to avoiding criticism, that’s not for most work situations. I don’t think that same-level employees should be doing this with eachother in most cases because dealing with people in your professional life that you wouldn’t want in your personal life is just part of being professional at work (and, frankly, part of ensuring that you’re maintaining a diverse workforce and not hiring clones!)

          Of course, she should be direct with her coworker about something embarassing if there isn’t a better solution, and it seems like she’s tried being indirect and coworker hasn’t quite gotten the picture so I can see why “try direct methods when indirect methods don’t work.” But solving the problem with wipes IS being direct! She’s telling her coworker, directly, “I want you to clean off the phone after you use it and I will do the same.” That’s very direct! That’s a direct request! It’s much more direct than “there’s something on this phone, huh,” which both doesn’t directly tell coworker that she wears too much makeup and doesn’t directly tell coworker that LW wants her to use the wipe. By asking Coworker to use the wipe, LW is directly asking her coworker to do what she wants her coworker to do. There’s nothing more direct than asking for what you want by telling someone what you want. Coworker doesn’t need to know why LW wants her to use wipes–LW doesn’t want coworker to wear less makeup. LW doesn’t care what coworker does with her face. LW cares what coworker does with her phone, so all LW needs to do to be direct about her needs is to tell coworker what she wants done with the phone. Anything else is just kindof mean.

    • I think this approach would make the co-worker feel self-conscious and be less likely to wipe the phone down. With Cap’s approach, the co-worker won’t feel singled out. The goal here is to get the phone wiped down but increasing the friction won’t help anyone.

    • What’s the benefit of being direct about coworker’s makeup specifically in this particular case? It sounds like coworker is kindof sensitive and while sure, there are benefits to being direct about what you don’t like about someone’s behavior with sensitive people in order to not train them that freaking out will lead to avoiding criticism, that’s not for most work situations. I don’t think that same-level employees should be doing this with eachother in most cases because dealing with people in your professional life that you wouldn’t want in your personal life is just part of being professional at work (and, frankly, part of ensuring that you’re maintaining a diverse workforce and not hiring clones!)

      Of course, she should be direct with her coworker about something embarrassing if there isn’t a better solution, and it seems like she’s tried being indirect and coworker hasn’t quite gotten the picture so I can see why “try direct methods when indirect methods don’t work.” But solving the problem with wipes IS being direct! She’s telling her coworker, directly, “I want you to clean off the phone after you use it and I will do the same.” That’s very direct! That’s a direct request! It’s much more direct than “there’s something on this phone, huh,” which both doesn’t directly tell coworker that she wears too much makeup and doesn’t directly tell coworker that LW wants her to use the wipe. By asking Coworker to use the wipe, LW is directly asking her coworker to do what she wants her coworker to do. There’s nothing more direct than asking for what you want by telling someone what you want. Coworker doesn’t need to know WHY LW wants her to use wipes–LW doesn’t want coworker to wear less makeup. LW doesn’t care what coworker does with her face. LW cares what coworker does with her phone, so all LW needs to do to be direct about her needs is to tell coworker what she wants done with the phone. Anything else is just kindof mean, and isn’t related to being direct about solving the problem. Clearly asking for what you want is direct. Adding detail about why you want it doesn’t make it any more direct; you’re already at maximum directness when you’ve made a clear, unambiguous request.

    • This sounds far more likely to make the co-worker defensive, and it’s hard to see what benefit it would have.

      I think it’s important for the LW to be direct about what she wants to happen (everyone cleans the phone off after use). However, being direct about her opinion of who was causing the problem was a) something the LW specifically wants to avoid, and b), as others have pointed out, likely to put co-worker on the defensive and hence make her *less* likely to go along. I thought the Captain’s scripts were perfect for doing the first while avoiding the second.

    • I didn’t know that about wet wipes for skin – does this apply to baby wipes as well as makeup wipes and the like? I tend to buy baby wipes as sort of ‘general purpose skin/table’ wipes, and usually I don’t need to *sanitize* the surface I’m wiping down, but that’s something I’ll keep in mind given that I have a very allergy-prone group of friends.

  5. SamKD said:

    “Wiping down shared office equipment is a good, normal practice that can (hopefully) help the office cold or Norovirus from spreading and everyone should do it more frequently than most of us do.”

    Yes. This.
    If one googles any combo of “shared phones” “wiping down” or “infection control” there are a lot of hits. Many have to do with cellphones but this article has shared office phones as Germ Haven #4 and thus might be good to print out in case of overreaction.

    http://www.womansday.com/home/organizing-cleaning/tips/a1036/9-surprising-office-germ-havens-99469/

  6. Joao victor said:

    Is it possible to ask management for individual landlines in the future?

  7. PandaGrrl said:

    Oh goodness, I could have written this letter very recently. My coworker was the same, leaving a thick coating of makeup over the phone (and keyboard, mouse, pen, and desk drawers…) and being seemingly unaware of it. The nature of our positions meant that she was #1 phone answerer and I was the relief. Even with wiping down the phone, and trying to let it not touch my face, I started breaking out into a contact rash on both sides of my face.

    Captain has the best advice IMO. I didn’t know how to tell my coworker to clean her makeup off of everything so I just wiped down the surfaces we shared whenever I sat down (and used a different phone receiver, once I started breaking out, which I phrased to her as not knowing WHAT precisely was causing the rash, but that it was definitely the phone, and I like to think it was obvious because it was a big red rash right where the receiver would sit). Cleaning shared surfaces (and the lack of cleaning them, unfortunately) is very common. It became a non-issue thanks to a staffing change but I’m still wiping down my surfaces. And I got a headset so I don’t have to share the phone. (I realize that’s very impractical from what you said, but it made a world of difference to me, esp since I’m in a new office and the phone is still giving me a rash even though I’m the #1 phone answerer now.)

    Best wishes LW.

    • Celeste said:

      We had a lady like this here. She had many, many issues and this was just one of the easiest to handle. Her phone had to be covered when she was on her breaks, so there was no way of getting around it. She was definitely angry about it and made a point of wiping the phone when she got back, as if it had been contaminated. But hey, it kept her debris off of other people, which was the point.

    • thetigerhasspoken said:

      “which I phrased to her as not knowing WHAT precisely was causing the rash, but that it was definitely the phone, and I like to think it was obvious because it was a big red rash right where the receiver would sit.”

      I have a very hard time with the “I like to think it was obvious” with the implied “therefore I should not have to use my words” kind of thinking. I do not have the brain or energy for this kind communication that to me, feels obtuse and like I am being expected to read your mind. However, I do know MANY people who operate like this and who take it either as a personal insult or are awash with The Shame when they have to be told something outright – like they failed a test or something.

      So if you are of the “hinting” variety and the other person is not picking up on your hints, go ahead and be direct. You do run of the risk of offending them but honestly, that’s their problem. I know I would probably feel a flash of “oh god! I screwed up!” but also immense relief that you told me and now it can be resolved. I think the expectation that anything is “obvious” isn’t doing anyone any favors – but it may help you figure out who your people are (i.e. the ones are very observant and sensitive).

      • PandaGrrl said:

        My apologies, that part wasn’t clear. I told her about my rash when it first appeared, and said outright I was going to switch out the phone because that was the most likely cause, in hopes that it would clear the problem up. I did not phrase it as “your makeup is gross and now I have a rash”, I said something more like “i don’t know what’s causing it but the phone is not helping so I’m going to switch out the set and hope for the best.” I have some Bad Feelings regarding my face thanks to severe acne in my teens (literally had a stranger on the bus tell me about this amazing product!!!! that would clear my skin up) so to me it might as well have had neon signs pointing at it. They were red and bumpy and kind of obvious (I thought but maybe not? At any rate no one was as rude as that transit stranger many years ago as to comment on it).

        I probably could have handled the situation better but yeah, I didn’t just quietly change the phone and hope she inferred the reason why, I talked about this irritating thing on my face many times and always owned it as a thing that was my issue and took the lead on taking steps to minimize.

        • You’re clearly a kind and courteous person. Don’t sweat it if not everyone gets your polite way of handling things. There’s nothing wrong with allowing someone else the kindness of saving face while the problem gets solved to your satisfaction.

    • Dove said:

      My sympathies for having had to deal with this, but I must admit I’m baffled as to how someone would get makeup on the keyboard…and the mouse…and pens….and *desk drawers*?! I can understand the phone receiver, since that does come in pretty close contact with your face, but I’m drawing a blank as to how it’d get on everything else.

      Unless she was liberally applying it mid-shift, I guess? I know that my powder foundation tends to scatter a little when I apply it, if I’m not being careful about that.

      (…I just realized how this might sound, but I swear I’m not doubting you! It’s just that the physics of this mystifies me and I’m hoping someone will help me figure it out.)

      • That was my first question, too, but then I thought that she probably touches her face a lot, and it gets on her hands and fingers, and spreads from there.

        • Dove said:

          …that would certainly do it! I missed that possibility, since one of the reasons why I put makeup on is so that I *won’t* touch my face.

        • That’s exactly it. Sometimes I will absentmindedly touch my chin (e.g., rest it in my hand while thinking) and get some powder or something on my hand. If I can’t go wash it off immediately due to busy-ness, it is not unlikely I may touch something and get a powder-colored smudge on something. I don’t wear a lot of powder, but you don’t have to wear a lot to get it on your hands accidentally.

    • It is possible the plastic receiver itself is part of the problem. I’m nearsighted enough to need glasses to drive and to see detail in TV sets across the room / movie screens, but most of my day is spent doing close-up work. When I wear my glasses for an extended period of time (long drive, etc.), I get a rash from the metal or plastic frames (I have a pair of each) with the metal frames being slightly more likely to give me breakouts and rashes on my nose bridge and temples. I’m ordinarily not allergic to much, but this kind of contact dermatitis is a thing, and I keep my glasses very clean.

  8. Chickie Feels It All said:

    Another gentle, but straightforward way would be to say, “You probably don’t realize it … So I brought in some wipes that we all can use.”

  9. One other thought: how about a head set with mic combination. It won’t touch your face

    • RA said:

      The problem with that otherwise wise choice would be that a shared item that touches everyone’s hair can be a vector for lice. 😦

      • Heather said:

        It is, however, possible to have a headset that LW uses, for her use only because lice, but leave the handset for the other person to use. It’s usually only possible to request that if you have a reason, though. I got one because I had to type what was being told to me on the phone. LW might be able to present it as making it easier to get to the phone quickly, if the phone isn’t on her desk.

        H

      • Cactus said:

        Yeesh.
        Speaking of work, phones, and sensitive co-workers….when I was a temp receptionist at an old job, my lunch relief person thought it was SO WEIRD that I never used the headset. She commented on it every time she saw me pick up the actual receiver, in a bizarrely snippy way. Her personality and mine didn’t mesh for many reasons, but the fact that she seemed borderline offended by which device I used to answer phones was our initial and most long-lasting conflict.
        And my reasons for not using the headset were basically this–I didn’t want to worry about lice, germs, scalp oils, etc. I didn’t tell her that, because I knew it wouldn’t lead anywhere pleasant, but…she took the whole thing so personally.

    • Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian said:

      From someone in an office with headsets that have to be shared amongst relief; you still get make-up all over them. And body oils and hair stuff, and anything else.

      Personally, even with regular use of Clorox/Lysol wipes, I cannot share a headset that someone else also uses.

  10. canadakate said:

    “She’s got a history of overreacting to the smallest things, and we’re trying to do this without upsetting her.”

    Whenever I hear this, I always think: “They’ve trained you to let them behave however they want with no consequences.” I’ve been there. It can be overcome! Good luck!

    • “They’ve trained you to let them behave however they want with no consequences.”

      I love this! It’s hard to accept someone else’s anger and upset, but once you learn, life becomes so much easier.

      Signed,

      The Person Who Accepted Her In-Laws Would Never Like Her Once She Learned They Hated How She Eats Bacon

      • Out of curiosity, how do you eat bacon?

    • Leonine said:

      You know, I would usually agree with this take, but look at how the LW talks about the situation and the co-worker:

      “She’s started leaving these obscenely thick, full-facial-imprint layers of makeup on the phone…. [I]t’s the part that’s actually in contact with your face that’s a disaster zone…. I’m tired of cleaning up after her facial mess. It’s just gross…. I was having trouble keeping a straight face…. She’s got a history of overreacting to the smallest things, and we’re trying to do this without upsetting her.”

      If my co-workers thought of me and therefore treated me as an obscene, messy, gross, ridiculous disaster, I would probably “overreact” to “the smallest things,” too. I really cannot get down with the tone of this letter. It drips with negativity and contempt. I wish there were a wipe for that.

      • tsupertsundere said:

        Why does someone have to be positive about something they find gross?

        I mean, I’m not down with the idea of having to bite back frustration and still be ‘nice’ about something that really bugs me… even in a private forum… far away from the subject, which will never know about this. It’s nasty, LW doesn’t like that it’s nasty, they’re venting.

        • Leonine said:

          I didn’t say they had to be positive. I didn’t say they had to be nice. Neutral would be fine. Here:

          “She’s started leaving these thick, full-facial-imprint layers of makeup on the phone…. [I]t’s the part that’s actually in contact with your face that’s a problem…. I’m tired of cleaning up after her makeup. It’s just unpleasant…. I was having trouble maintaining my composure…. She’s got a history of reacting strongly to things like this, and we’re trying to do this without upsetting her.”

          Leaving makeup behind on the phone is a problem. That problem can be discussed and solved without a nasty, contemptuous, shaming tone. It’s possible to dislike a person and their behavior and still speak of them with respect. The LW obviously has no respect for this person: they can barely keep from laughing in her face. How much makeup to wear is a matter of taste, but sneering contempt isn’t a good look on anyone.

      • BarlowGirl said:

        Similar feelings.

        • BarlowGirl said:

          Also, like, your face still touches the phone when you use it. You can just see it because of the makeup. Face germs aren’t really less gross just because you can’t see them.

          • Emmers said:

            Grossed-out feelings aren’t rational, though; they’re quite visceral.

      • I picked up on that, too, but I’m going to give LW the benefit of the doubt that it is frustration and grossed-out-ness over the situation driving the tone here, not actual contempt for the co-worker personally. After all,. she’s not saying the co-worker herself is gross, just the smears she leaves behind.

    • A friend and fellow cat-owner, once told me how she “trained” her cats to stay off her bed. Every time her cats got on her bed, she would go to the treat bottle, and shake it, and they would come running for treats.

      It took her months to realize that the cats had trained her to provide them with treats whenever they got on her bed. “I’m hungry. Don’t want cat food. I want a tasty treat! On the bed! BINGO!”

      • Breadpudding said:

        Right, you’re not supposed to give the treat until they do what you actually want/respond to a specific command. So if you want to used some sort of positive feedback for keeping them off the bed, it has to be in response to them *not* getting on the bed when you see them going for it and say “no”.

        • Yeah. My family have long-since stopped trying to train our cats.

          Although we did once have a cat who was trained to 1) give us a kiss goodbye whenever she got off our laps, and 2) get off our laps whenever we gave the code word. It wasn’t much, but we were so proud! Never did manage it with any other cat, though, although we did try. I think Felix just really liked to give kisses.

    • sb said:

      I don’t think someone wearing a lot of makeup and i would hazard 100% unknowingly leaving it on the phones at work would be trying to actively manipulate her co-workers into letting her get away without wiping the phone down.

      I think this letter is judgmental and mean, honestly, and I don’t like how some commenters are pillorying this woman.

  11. policychick said:

    If you need an example (if only for yourself!) – I’m sure you’ve seen video of people singing in a sound studio for recording. You’ve probably noticed that, about six inches from the mic, is a circular screen about the size of a spread hand (maybe six-eight inch diameter). It’s placed between the singer and the mic to protect the mic from saliva. I’ve never met a single voiceover or singing talent who complained about it – because again, it’s not personal! Mics are expensive and very sensitive, and it’s about protecting the equipment and not getting anyone sick. Maybe think of it that way?

    • slfisher said:

      That’s not what it is. It’s a filter to prevent popping people sounds. Signed, was married to an audio engineer.

      • Yup. A pop filter isn’t really to keep germs of a mic, it’s a way to reduce the impact of unwanted vocal sounds on a particular recording or performance.

        (Anecdote: As a complete naif to the music business, I noticed my musician boyfriend’s microphone was picking up a lot of glottal stops and whatnot, thought about it, and “invented” something to fix the problem. I bent a coathanger and put a pair of pantyhose over it, and clipped it to the mic stand, and sure enough, it stopped the pops. Boyfriend thanked me and I was so proud of myself! Maybe we could market this brilliant idea!

        It was at this point that I was educated about the existence of pop filters. Well, dang.

        Oh well, my heart was in the right place. Should have asked first.)

        • JenniferP said:

          We teach my film students the pantyhose & coathanger method, it works beautifully.

    • slfisher said:

      That’s not what it is. It’s a filter for popping p sounds. Signed, was married to an audio engineer.

      • This makes more sense than popping people, but your original comment gave me a good laugh. Thanks!

        • slfisher said:

          DYAC 🙂

          • Yeah, but it’s sure fun to read it when it happens to others. There are websites devoted to auto-correct.

            My auto-correct has a fluke that annoys me, though. It will auto-correct a word before I finish typing it, so I have to go back and change it, BEFORE I EVEN FINISH TYPING IT, Y’ALL! and it happens a lot. Also, it likes to take correctly spelled words and change them to incorrectly spelled words. Not correctly spelled wrong words, but actual gibberish.

            Such fun. I have no idea how to turn it off on this particular computer, but I do have it off on my laptop.

  12. Marna Nightingale said:

    Also, while I am 100% Team LW as far as clean phones go — even if Co-Worker didn’t have a track record of taking things personally, um, okay, so.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if a person wears full-face heavy makeup every working day in a workplace where it’s not usual, they’re almost certainly _deeply_ sensitive/insecure about their appearance.

    Maybe there’s no objective reason for it at all and they’re deeply insecure. Maybe they’ve got scarring, or a birthmark, or patches of oddly-toned skin, or whatever. Maybe they were raised under Late Patriarchy and their self-image includes mandatory full-face makeup.

    In either case can I ask that we not get judgy, and that we remember that in this particular case it would be better to approach things obliquely even if Co Worker was the picture of reasonableness?

    • Marna Nightingale said:

      (I wish they WERE the picture of un-touchy, because, man, I could recommend SO MANY brands of foundation, etc. that a person could probably do a full triathalon in without it smearing…)

      • BarlowGirl said:

        Let’s not assume that everyone can afford that, can wear it, or it comes in their shade please. Foundation shades don’t tend to cater to people with very light or dark skin tones.

        Also I tend to assume most people who wear foundation like their foundation, and are wearing it for a reason.

        • Temperance said:

          I don’t really understand this comment. I’m coming from the perspective of someone who is basically makeup ignorant because I wasn’t allowed to wear it when the other girls in my class were experimenting – so I basically looked like a sad clown/raccoon years after everyone else went through that phase.

          If someone could recommend me a nice foundation for my super pale, super sensitive, acne-prone skin, I would treat them like a god.

          • ashbet said:

            Since you’re directly asking — IT Beauty CC+ Cream (lightweight foundation with SPF50) is what I use — I have very pale skin with a slightly yellow undertone, and their lightest color works well for me. I buy it at Ulta.

            If you’re at all near an Ulta or Sephora, they have helpful salespeople who will give you a hand finding the right shade/product for your skin, if this suggestion doesn’t work 🙂

          • ashbet said:

            (I’m also SUPER sensitive and prone to breakouts, and I developed rosacea a couple of years ago, so I was really pleased to find something I don’t react to, especially since most sunscreen gives me SKIN RAGE.)

          • Yeah, experimenting with new make-ups is what vacations are for, right? So you get all those break-outs when you’re far away from home, and no one you care about will see you?

            I don’t make brand recommendations because 1) I’m not that make-up savvy, and 2) what works for one may not work for another, and sometimes the more expensive brands are problematic and the cheap ones work. All I can say is, if you want to wear make-up and have sensitive skin, invest the money and the time in experimentation.

            If you can’t do a make-up vacation, then do make-up at home days, where it won’t matter how you look, and you can wash it off at the first sign of irritation.

            Good luck! Skin sensitivities are really super annoying.

      • Hrovitnir said:

        That seems like a deeply uncharitable read of the Marna Nightingale’s comment, BarlowGirl? Lots of people would really like first-hand advice on foundations, as evidenced by how many YouTubers have huge followings almost exclusively doing that. Not all makeup that stays on well is expensive and not all makeup that rubs off terribly is cheap, and the lack of shades for different skin tones is virtually ubiquitous so if they have very dark or light skin I doubt they’d be offended by recommendations that don’t work out.

        Wanting to share knowledge that might be helpful is not a judgement call!

        • ELF is dirt cheap – and not tested on animals! – and man, you need an oil-based cleaner to get it to move.

          • Seconded. E.L.F. is remarkably good quality stuff. I like their cleansers and primers, too.
            SHANY is good for folks who want to play with color (eyeshadow, lipsticks, etc.) and Amazon has it.
            Glamouflage is like a less thick Dermablend…it works semi-well covering red spots and such, but the product itself separates quickly in its tube, so don’t buy a big tube of the stuff.
            Etude House and Tony Moly are good for trying Korean skin care and make-up trends for cheap and are decent quality, and the packaging is always very cute. Can’t speak for other brands.

    • Or Coworker just likes wearing makeup and thus does so every day, like some women enjoy skirts or snazzy hairstyles. I don’t think it’s fair to assume women who wear full face makeup everyday are insecure. The women I know who do aren’t any more insecure than the rest of us – most of them just really love makeup.
      But the Captain is right – you have to talk to her and if she’s upset, that’s okay. You don’t have to be upset because she is.

      • ashbet said:

        Yeah, I *hate* foundation and avoided it for almost 40 years, but I now have rosacea (which I’m sensitive about the appearance of), and I *must* use SPF daily — and the one SPF50 that doesn’t make my skin burn and break out is a tinted CC Cream.

        (Yes, I have tried 20+ brands of expensive, fancy, and even prescription sunscreen — this is the only one I can tolerate.)

        With that said, just because I’m using it for medical reasons, that doesn’t mean that someone using foundation or other makeup for aesthetic reasons should somehow have to justify themselves.

        I’m an unapologetic femme who really enjoys lipstick and other “decorative” makeup — because it pleases me to wear it. I dislike foundation, but I like not aggravating my rosacea through excessive sun exposure in Texas ;P

        Regardless of the REASON behind Coworker’s makeup choices (which is really irrelevant and nobody else’s business), she needs to clean up after herself.

        The Captain’s script is a good one, and it genuinely does have the bonus of reducing germ transfer in the office!

      • Watch_the_Toes said:

        First time/long time: I think that’s an important point for people to remember, Adventures w/ Rachel. Plenty of women simply wear makeup because they enjoy it.

        I personally have a bit of a complex history with makeup. For years, I would mostly only wear it if I were going out at night, or wanted to make my look pop a bit more that particular day. It got to the point where I was almost never wearing makeup, and when I did, my skin would freak out the next day. Plus, my makeup skills started deteriorating, and so when I’d see myself in the mirror with makeup on, I’d feel weird and unpretty. I didn’t like that feeling at all.

        This February, I got a new job and decided I wanted to make sure I looked very polished, which for me personally includes makeup. I hated the idea because I never wanted to feel like my face isn’t enough to present to the world. But I also didn’t want to get taken less seriously if this work place happened to be one of those placed that thinks a woman is professional only if she’s wearing lipstick. So, I found a foundation that my skin likes, and some lighter eye colors that make for a sublte pop but still looks like me, just more polished, and I’m happy with my day look.

        The best part, though, is this is an awesome, mostly-woman workplace that could care less if you wear makeup or not – they just care if you’re a good team player who does good work, and that’s fun for me! So, on days I don’t want to wear makeup, I feel no shame in showing my pretty bare face in the workplace!

    • Jadis said:

      So….we’re not being judgy, except when it comes to deciding that anyone who wears a full face of makeup is almost certainly deeply insecure about their appearance? Gotcha. Duly noted. Carry on.

      • Gaime said:

        Love to you and the other commentators who jumped on this. xo

      • CD said:

        Love you and thank you for saying this. People can wear foundation out of reasons beyond insecurity. You may not know someone’s full story about why they choose to wear or not wear makeup – and you are not entitled to know anyway. It’s their choice. And not wearing makeup doesn’t make you level up or better than someone who does AND vice versa.

        I don’t judge either way, but let us please be charitable to other humans about the choices they make in regards to their appearance – be it things they can control or not.

        All of the comments saying that you are insecure if you wear makeup feels incredibly out of place on this site that should and normally is about offering compassion and understanding. Not judgement and placing someone ether above or below you.

      • grace3183 said:

        Love you and thank you for saying this. People can wear foundation out of reasons beyond insecurity. You may not know someone’s full story about why they choose to wear or not wear makeup – and you are not entitled to know anyway. It’s their choice. And not wearing makeup doesn’t make you level up or better than someone who does AND vice versa.

        I don’t judge either way, but let us please be charitable to other humans about the choices they make in regards to their appearance – be it things they can control or not.

        All of the comments saying that you are insecure if you wear makeup feels incredibly out of place on this site that should and normally is about offering compassion and understanding. Not judgement and placing someone ether above or below you.

        • I once had a co-worker who wore make-up in a way that made her look clownish. She herself acknowledged it was not realistic looking, at all. However, it was what her husband wanted. He liked her to look like that, and she loved him and did it to please him, and since she didn’t care what other people thought of her face (she wasn’t trying to please THEM), she wore her make-up to her husband’s preference.

          She was not under his thumb or abused or anything. It was just that one thing. So don’t worry, compassionate people! She was fine.

          The point is that people will wear make-up or clothes or jewelry or what-have-you for a wide variety of reasons, and armchair diagnosis of them is not a good idea.

      • There were a couple of caveats there, which were “daily, in an office where that doesn’t seem to be a thing” and “quite heavy, sounds like.” But you’re quite right, I ought to have said “there’s a high chance”, not “probably”.

        • Also, I wear makeup a lot. I accept that my phrasing was lousy but I genuinely don’t make that assumption in general.

          It’s heavy foundation specifically I tend to tread carefully around because in my experience many people who wear that do so because they think they “need” to.

    • While I see where you’re coming from, she might just enjoy makeup. My workplace is a little too casual for me to wear a full face, but when I do my foundation is prone to smearing. The formula that works with my skin is just never fully matte. I’ve seen a few comments along this line and I really dislike the implication that women who wear a lot of makeup are incredibly insecure.

    • Gaime said:

      Actually, can we please not assume that? I’m a queer femme ciswoman who sometimes goes through stints of heavy makeup as a function of personal expression. There are lots of bold, confident, secure, non-piteous reasons to where lots of makeup. Deep insecurity is *a* reason, sure, but it’s by far not to only reason, or even only obvious reason. Saying it is feels needlessly condescending to this co-worker and makeup wearers, generally.

      • This. I couldn’t articulate this very well for some reason, but I totally agree. Makeup is just as much a tool of self-expression as it is a coverup.

        • Gaime said:

      • grace3183 said:

        YES!

    • Yeah, that’s a limb.

      I wear skirts and full makeup in an office where lots of people wear jeans and no makeup, and it’s not because I’m deeply sensitive or insecure about my appearance, it’s because I like presenting like this and I enjoy putting together looks.

      • clorinda said:

        I don’t wear makeup at all but am always heavily bejeweled. Just because a person chooses a gender-normative form of self-presentation doesn’t mean it’s because PATRIARCHY and SELF-ESTEEM or what have you. It’s a kind of collection, or habit, or artistic expression.

        • meadowphoenix said:

          doesn’t mean it’s because PATRIARCHY

          You don’t have to deny gender socialization to assert that that socialization has other social functions.

          • See clarification/apology above.

            Though I have to say that this thread is doing exactly nothing to make me feel that the basic point that makeup/presentation of self issues need to be approached with extreme tact and caution.

          • … is invalid. Wups, sorry. Tired after long weekend.

          • It’s true that if someone is constantly told that presenting how they prefer to present is either Letting Down The Side or Indicative Of Self-Hatred, they’re likely to get a bit reactive and hostile when it comes up.

            FUNNY.
            HOW.
            THAT.
            HAPPENS.

    • I have oily skin and acne scarring on top of rosacea. I was bullied throughout my teens because most people think acne = lack of hygiene. Acne is NOT about poor hygiene.

      I don’t wear much foundation because it tends to move despite primers and other setting products. My face moves and gets oily because it’s a human face. Any base I wore would potentially transfer onto a phone. I chose to have a light amount of make up that means I can concentrate on not looking like a smeared version of Siouxsie Sioux by 3 pm. But my scarring is on show and plenty of employers still associate professionalism with pretty so it’s a tough call. I can relate to my colleagues who wear more make up than me. It’s war paint, theatrics, a comfort blanket, camouflage, it’s personal to them.

      I’d hope that a colleague would be kind but direct with me about it. If I found that they had gone around the office to gossip for validation before talking to me, I’d feel pissed off too. That’s not insecurity on my part. It’s me wanting to be treated like a peer.

      Oh, to be the kind of woman who only needs a luxe tinted moisturiser and who can sit in judgment on the rest of us….

      • I feel you. I have deep scars and hormonal acne, but only foundation that doesn’t break me out happens to transfer A LOT. I’m cognizant of it, but I’ve also realized it’s just the nature of having even remotely oily skin.

  13. Yolanda B. Cool said:

    LW, this is great advice. Also, maybe consider framing the new “wipe down the phone” routine as a hygiene issue? It’s difficult for your touchy co-worker to take it personally if you say something like “I just read this article about the spread of MRSA in shared office spaces. Did you know that phones have more germs than toilet seats?** Eeewwww! If we could all start wiping it down before and after use, that would cut down on the spread of germs, and we’d all get fewer colds/flu/whatever.”

    Phrasing it as a request where you’re looking out for everyone because the world is a gross, germy place makes it A Team Thing, and not a confrontation.

    **This is totally made up. In fact, I would probably have a lot of fun making up far-out sounding “facts” about how unhygienic office supplies are (“Paper clips carry more germs than port-a-potties!”), but I’m a bad person like that. You should tailor this message to your level of comfort.

    • Marna Nightingale said:

      Oh it’s even true. I mean, I don’t have the comparative germ count but they spread colds and stomach viruses like wildfire and, man, a month after I switched to a dispatch environment with individual headsets instead of cramming a handset against my face for 8-12 hours a day, my lingering one-side-of-my-face case of adult ache cleared up like freaking magic,

  14. Percy Noodles said:

    As people said above, please use baby wipes! They’re really good at removing gunk (I use them after muddy hikes) and they’re gentle on the skin.

    All of the suggestions to frame it around germs is making me nervous that LW will *have* to use an antibacterial wipe if they go the route of making this issue specifically about germs instead of just gunk. Lysol and other antibacterial wipes are ok every once in awhile for sanitizing, but are not safe for everyone’s skin, especially if it’s being applied to the phone constantly. I break out in a horrible and extremely painful rash anywhere those wipes touch me (even if I wash right away) and it takes 3-5 to go away. The thought of it on my face makes me tear up.

    I think the Captain’s suggestions will work well and I really don’t want LW to back herself into a “germs!” corner (esp with superiors) when baby wipes are likely to get the gunk off perfectly fine and won’t put people’s skin at risk.

    • I just came to hop up and down and cheer the use of baby wipes over antibacterials. A lot of the benefit from the process of wiping down is removing the stuff that bacteria lives in and, you know, actually wiping away the bacteria. Like, sure, bacteria can cling to a surface and eventually multiply again if they’re not all totally 100% dead, but wiping a surface will remove the bulk of the bacteria that would otherwise have transferred to your body without the drawbacks of irritating chemical residue and increasing drug resistance and in studies of whether antibacterial wipes/soap are better than non-antibacterial for preventing illnesses (compared across users of both), the answer is usually not particularly. They kill more bacteria but when there isn’t much there to be killed because you’ve performed an effective wipe/wash, that is a very marginal benefit.

  15. MrsLokiofAsgard said:

    My mom was a smoker for many years and is a receptionist. Her phone is used mainly by her but others use it to cover her lunch, days off, and end of day coverage. One of the women who covered used to wipe down the phone when she’d come to the desk because of lingering smokers breath odor. My mom was slightly embarrassed but realized that, as a smoker, she wasn’t fully aware of the smell she was putting out there. She started wiping down the phone herself at the end of her shift, even when she finally quit smoking. She said it makes a difference because if she doesn’t she can actually smell things on the phone from other people (like lunch, smokers, perfume)

  16. nnn said:

    Just wanted to chime in that “wears a lot of make-up” does not necessarily mean “will be self-conscious that the make-up comes off on the phone.” As a heavy make-up wearer, I know that’s a thing that happens, I don’t always notice it happening, and it happens differently with different phones. It’s like if your coffee cup leaves a ring on the desk – sometimes it happens, sometimes you don’t notice, it’s not embarrassing, but it’s kind of a bit more gross when it’s someone else’s.

    That said, I do agree completely with Captain’s advice: provide the tools, make a habit, don’t single anyone out. (And that’s also exactly the approach I’d want if a co-worker were grossed out when my coffee cup leaves a ring on my desk.)

    • Yeah–if I were self-conscious about my coffee cups/water bottles ending up with lipstick on them, or there being some occasional makeup ruboff, I’d live in constant agony, because if you wear makeup, it sometimes rubs off. I wear primer and that sort of thing, which helps, but it’s like cat hair. If you have cats, you have cat hair sometimes.

      • If you have cats, you have cat hair ALL THE TIME.

  17. Friendly Hipposcriff said:

    Am I the only person reading this who immediately thought of telephone sanitisers and Ark B?

    Captain, I think your script is a thing of beauty – making it everybody’s responsibility and giving coworker a chance to cringe in private.

    • sasha said:

      oh me too! 🙂

      • MoragLachlanMaclachlan said:

        Me too 😀

  18. sasha said:

    isn’t there a bit in one of the hitchiker’s guide books about the entire population of a planet being wiped out via some telephone-receiver-borne virus?

    oh yeah, there totally is.

    bonus to the captan’s suggested approach: even if coworker thinks you’re being overly zealous about cleanliness and refuses to use the wet wipes, hey, now she thinks you’re just weird about cleanliness, so she won’t think twice when she sees you doing a quick wipe down of the phone whenever you answer it.

    but yeah, ideal solution would definitely be if wiping things down becomes standard office practice.

    In gyms it’s common practice to wipe down equipment before and after you use it, because we all get that it’s kinda gross to lie down in someone else’s back sweat to do a bench press, but it’s actually probably way more sanitary to do that than to use a phone that hasn’t been wiped down, because that thing is near your face, and people have been breathing their germy breath on it, and touching it with hands that have touched many other potentially germy surfaces.

    • Bobbin Ufgood said:

      I mentioned this upthread! this whole thing kept making me think about that story!

  19. songofstorms said:

    It really is a good idea for everyone to wipe down a shared phone after use anyway. The makeup residue your coworker is leaving behind is more obvious, but EVERYONE who uses it is probably leaving face oils etc. on the receiver. Perhaps I just have an exceptionally oily face (okay, there’s no perhaps about it), but I know using a cell phone and noticing the layer of grease left behind on the screen after I finish talking on it made me very aware of just how much face-gunk I leave on a phone even though I don’t wear any makeup at all.

  20. Convallaria majalis said:

    I love the script The Captain gave. Phones do indeed contain a layer of various bacteria and wiping the phone is indeed a good way to prevent sickness causing bacteria and viruses from spreading. I just wonder if this could be something that could be made into an official office policy, perhaps to be done in other places, too, beside this particular phone. If the office provided for the wipes the LW would not have to invest in them.

    I love it that the LW wrote this letter – and I hope that The Captain’s and our answers will help. I cannot help it but to sympathize a bit with the coworker. I do not usually wear any make-up (a personal choise, I love my freckles), but I am very sensitive and in situations I have felt helpless or threatened I have reacted badly, of which I am not proud. People do react strongly for many kinds of reasons: perhaps their situation in life is a heavy one, perhaps they have experienced a lot of bullying and being isolated (like I have). I do think the co-worker is insecure, not because of the make-up, but because of her strong reactions.

    To me this sounds like a situation where the best way to proceed would be to follow The Captain’s script – or perhaps to go to the boss and to suggest wiping the phone and perhaps other places (like door knobs) for hygiene reasons. Other people commenting have given really good advice on what kind of wipes to get. I truly hope this will help. Besides, if the co-worker does wipe the phone after using it she might very well realize that she is leaving a mess behind.

    To me it sounds like the LW and the other workers do not know this co-worker very well. I wonder if getting to know this co-worker would help her (presumed) insecurity.

  21. Clarry said:

    Getting a little far afield from the original topic, but to prevent the spread of norovirus, you need something with bleach, not just the usual wipes. And handwashing has to be a good 30 seconds of real scrubbing, not just a quick wipe with hand sanitizer. Bleach, with its strong chemical smell, brings up another set of problems

  22. OK, I didn’t even get past the second paragraph here. My mind went straight to the gym.

    Gyms frequently, if not usually, have cleaning wipes near all the equipment, and signs all over saying, “Please wipe off equipment after use.” Because it is shared equipment, and it’s just polite.

    Shucks, even grocery stores are doing that for the shopping carts, although they usually do the reverse, with the wipes next to the place where you grab the cart, in the firsts place.

    This is a shared phone. It is shared equipment. Regardless of make up, acne, or just plain germs, if it’s going against your face, you want it to be reasonably clean, so I think you should push for the company to provide cleaning wipes next to all shared phones, and make it company policy that after using a shared phone, the employee is supposed to wipe it down. Not that you have to wipe down your own desk phones, but SHARED phones? Yeah.

    OK, off to read the rest, Captain’s answer, and the comments, and probably see I’ve been totally ninjad.

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