Dirty keyboards are back in the news, with a new report from Which? Computing.


Researchers tested keyboards from a typical London office and found bacteria that could put their user at high risk of becoming ill.

The germs found could cause food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea and other stomach upsets.

In one case, a microbiologist recommended the removal of a keyboard as it had 150 times the recommended limit of bacteria.

That meant it was five times filthier than a toilet seat that was swabbed in the same test.

The main cause of a bug-infested keyboard is eating lunch at your desk, as the crumbs encourage the growth of millions of bacteria.

Poor personal hygiene, such as dodging the wash basin after going to the loo, may also be to blame.

A previous report, conducted by the University of Arizona, found that a single desk can support 10 million microbes. The key offenders are, perhaps not surprisingly, telephones. Your 'phone can harbour up to 25,127 microbes per square inch, followed by keyboards at 3,295 and computer mice 1,676. You can put this in perspective by considering that the average toilet seat contains only 49 microbes per square inch!

Despite the obvious health hazard of a dirty keyboard, the frequency people clean their computers varies widely, the Which? Computing survey found:

10% said they never cleaned their keyboard, with a further 20% admitting to never cleaning their mouse.

Almost half cleaned their keyboard less than once a month.

The superhighways for bacteria are hands and the surfaces we touch. Viruses are transferred by our hands, especially cold viruses. The chances of falling ill are greatly increased for pregnant women, those who are already ill, or those with poor immune systems.

The spread of germs and viruses can be minimised by adopting a regular and correct cleaning regime. Bacteria levels can be reduced by as much as 99% just by wiping over a surface with a specially formulated impregnated wipe.

Shake, Shake and Shake again!

What's fallen out of your keyboard?

Well, if it hasn't been cleaned recently, there'll be visible things such as food, hair, maybe a sprinkling of dandruff. But what about the things you can't see?

Saliva. Every time you breathe, moisture is created and it settles somewhere!

Dead skin cells. Yes, afraid so. We all shed millions every day and where better to come to rest than in a computer keyboard.

Body fat. Very yucky, but true. Every time you type, touch a screen or telephone, the oil in your skin leaves a microscopic film. Just think what a few months' build up looks like under a microscope.

You may not mind having a collection of nasties in your keyboard if they belong to you - but what about when equipment is shared, such as in the case of hot desking? Do you really want to collect body fat and saliva from someone else? Thought not!

Clean it now!

If you are feeling distinctly queasy by now, it's time to make a resolution - and don't wait for the new year. Clean regularly with the correct products and you'll wipe out those keyboard nasties, and telephone germs.

Keyboard. Hold the keyboard at a downward angle over your rubbish bin and use an airduster to blow along the keys. Finish off with an anti-bacterial keyboard swab to zap bugs and reduce static. Once a week is good practice, but a daily wipe is recommended.

PC Screen. A daily wipe with a specially formulated cleaning wipe will keep your screen germ-free and reduce the build up of grime that can cause eyestrain.

Mouse. To clean inside the mouse, turn it upside down and release the tracker ball by turning the plastic ring (where the mouse ball pokes through), in the direction of the arrow. Remove the ring and flip the mouse over so that the ball falls into your hand.

Wash the ball under lukewarm water and leave to dry. Use an airduster to clean the inside cavity - watch out for falling dust or hairballs! Using long-handled buds and specially formulated liquid, clean the interior, paying particular attention to the rollers. The only place inside the mouse you shouldn't touch is the circuit board. Allow the mouse to dry and then return the mouse ball and restore the plastic ring to its original position.

To avoid sticky cursor syndrome use a slick mouse mat rather than a fabric one.

Telephones. Telephones deserve a daily wipe using specially formulated cloths to keep bugs away from your ear and mouth. It's a must, particularly if other people use your 'phone, so clean regularly and clean thoroughly.

Make sure that you don't collect body fat and saliva (especially if it belongs to someone else!). A fast 60-second cleaning regime every day with specially designed computer cleaning products is all you need to keep your desk free from bugs, germs and other nasties.

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