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How to clean your keyboard and prevent diseases spreading

Updated on August 7, 2012
What's lurking in your keyboard?
What's lurking in your keyboard? | Source

People are accustomed to cleaning around the house on a regular basis, making sure food preparation areas are sterile, stopping contamination, cleaning the toilet, bathroom, and furniture.

However, one area that is most commonly forgotten is the computer - especially the keyboard.

Spreading like butter

Your computer's keyboard is something you touch all the time. Unlike a mouse, there are a huge amount of crevices, cracks, and gaps for germs, dirt, crumbs, and lots of other surprising things to get into.

Whilst cleaning a mouse or touchpad is often simply a case of giving it a wipe with an antibacterial wipe, a keyboard is more involved - and arguably more important.

Diseases spread well through touch - whether through direct contact, or through an intermediary (a keyboard, for example). Sneezing or coughing near a keyboard makes it a potential surface for any viruses and bacteria to cling onto - and you coming to contact with it can make the disease spread easily.

It's even worse if one user of the keyboard doesn't wash their hands - trace amounts of wee and poo can often be found on keyboards!

Follow the guide below, and help keep yourself protected from disease that little bit more.

How often do you clean your keyboard?

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Desktop keyboards

Cleaning a desktop keyboard can be a little more involved than you may think, but unlike cleaning a monitor or a TV, the keyboard may be able to take a little rougher treatment.

  • Firstly, you should disconnect your keyboard from the computer - or, in the case of a wireless keyboard, remove the batteries.
  • Now, you should be safe to clean - firstly, take a disinfectant wipe, or spray a disinfectant onto a cloth (preferably a microfibre cloth). This will clean the caps of the keys.
  • Do the same for the rest of the keyboard itself. Leave out any cables and connectors.
  • Turn your keyboard upside down over a bin, and shake vigorously. Some crumbs will fall out.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to get most of the rest out.
  • If you want to deep-clean, most keyboards' keys are removable. You may be able to remove the keys with long nails, or by using a plastic ruler. However, you must be careful - this method is not recommended if you are inexperienced, or you are worried about breaking your keyboard. Once you remove the keys, spray a disinfectant onto the exposed area. Most keyboards have little channels to divert spilled drinks away from internals, so doing this shouldn't cause any damage - but please do check!
  • Finally, ensure any dirt accumulated around the rubber feet attached to the keyboard is cleaned off.

Laptop keyboards

Laptop keyboards are a little harder to clean as deeply as desktop keyboards - however, the keys are lower profile, and will therefore accumulate less dirt.

I don't recommend removing the keys from a laptop keyboard, as they are often very hard to reattach, and very easy to break. Follow the same steps as above, other than removing the keys.

Tablets, Phones, etc.

If your device has just has a screen, clean it as you would a monitor or TV.

If your device has physical keys, it is recommended not to use spray cleaners, as there is little internal protection from them.

Top tips

  • If you have used someone else's device, or are using a communal keyboard that you can't clean, wash your hands - either with a disinfectant gel, or with good old soap and water. Don't do it straight away and offend them though!
  • If you don't feel comfortable with a certain method of cleaning, don't do it!
  • It's always good practice to wash your hands before eating and after using a computer in any case.

Your comments are always appreciated - why not leave one below?

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