Keyboards, mice, touchpads and, more recently, touchscreens have become part of the devices that we use on a day to day basis and can’t live without. This, along with busy lifestyles such as eating at our desks at work or taking our laptops out and about with us means that our computers are subjected to more than they ever have been before. Not only does this give rise to the opportunity for more wear and tear, but it means that our computers, in particular our keyboards, can actually make us ill.
Studies have shown that keyboards in shared offices can contain five times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and harmful bacteria at that. As well as germs such as the common cold and coughs, bacteria that causes food poisoning and vomiting bugs can easily live on shared keyboards and be passed to everyone who uses the keyboard. In an ideal world, everyone would wash their hands after eating or going to the toilet, but unfortunately in places like offices, libraries and even if you share your home computer, you can never know what germs and bacteria someone has on their hands.
Apart from harbouring harmful bacteria, keyboards can also become clogged with food particles along with dust and general grime. This is not only unsavoury to think about, but surprisingly can also attract mice that wander across the keys looking for a tasty meal. Computer keyboards are more likely to hold large amounts of dust and hair but laptop keyboards are not immune from the problem, and you should make keyboard cleaning top of your to-do list!
As a first step, turning off or unplugging your device then turning it upside and shaking over a rubbish bin will help to dislodge some of the loose debris that may be hiding in the crevices. After this, using a can of compressed air such as Fellowes Pressurised Gas Duster ($11.86) will remove more of the dust and food that can collect in between keys.
A cleaning brush specifically made for keyboards, such as Mercury Cleaning Brush ($14) will help with regular dust maintenance and allow you to clean into those hard to reach spots, brushing away dirt that may be too stuck for compressed air to remove.
If you suspect that there is more dirt underneath your keys than the compressed air or cleaning brush can remove, it may be worth gently popping off your keys to take a look at the space underneath. Do remember to take a quick photo of your keyboard arrangement first to make sure you know where each key goes back!
For cleaning general dirt and skin oils on the keys, 3M Keyboard Cleaner ($4.99) is a great kit to keep near the computer as it contains both a cleaning solution and scrubbing tool that work to get into difficult to reach areas as well as removing built-up grime from individual keys. Always spray cleaning solutions onto a cloth or tool rather than straight onto the keyboard to avoid any liquid seeping into the circuitry of the keyboard.
To remove bacteria and germs from the keyboard, an antibacterial cleaner is required. A product such as eKlenz Keyboard Cleaner ($8.99) is great for use in the office as the foam cleaners are individually packaged and dampened with a solution that kills 99.9% of bacteria. These little cleaners are specially shaped to get inbetween the keys and will leave even the grimiest keyboards clean and fresh again. A clever (and fun) product called Cyber Clean ($9.60) is also great for removing dirt and debris from a keyboard while killing 99.9% of bacteria. This coloured elastic compound has a fresh fragrance and can be carefully pressed on top of the keys where it will grab dirt from crevices while killing germs. The product is reusable which is handy for keeping next to the computer at home or in the office when someone else has got a little too close to your keyboard for comfort.
Now that you have a sparklingly clean keyboard, remember to take good care of it so it doesn’t become covered in dirt and germs again! Keep one of the antibacterial products above next to your computer or in your laptop bag so that you have the tools to freshen your computer up at regular intervals.