It is common knowledge nowadays that a computer keyboard can be dirtier than your average toilet seat. The question is: Is your computer keyboard one of them? If you do not believe what I’m saying, below are actually studies conducted over the years regarding the “cleanliness” (or should I say “dirtiness”) of your computer keyboard.
“I use a computer in the office where I work.”
A study from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in the UK confirmed that real live mice tend to leave their droppings on computer keyboards in offices at night. The reason why the mice are there? Well, they diligently reach in between the keys some food crumbs left by people who eat their food while working. You know how unsanitary mice can be – they eat and they don’t care where they leave their droppings.
“I have my own personal computer and no one else uses it but me.”
I assume most of you may be familiar with the MythBusters on the Discovery Channel. On their 135th episode (December 16, 2009) entitled “Hidden Nasties”, they have conducted a study based on the myth stating that there are some common household items which are dirtier than a toilet seat, in terms of type and/or the number of germs they carry. The results have confirmed that a computer keyboard really harbours more bacteria than a typical toilet seat. It doesn’t matter if you are the only one who uses your own computer or if you have one of these fancy backlit keyboards mentioned by DotBeasts.
Major reasons for the dirtiness of a computer keyboard are people not washing their hands after using the toilet and eating food at their desks. If you tend to eat food while using your computer, your sticky fingers will most likely transfer sauces and edible substances onto and between the keys. Also, your fingers normally produce oils and they transfer to the keys whenever you press them. The oils in turn attract dust and/or become a nice place for germs to grow, multiply and transfer again to us, thus the higher chances for getting really sick.
In case you didn’t know, the very first known report of a viral infection spread by means of computer keyboard and mouse equipment happened in May of 2008 at a Washington, DC elementary school in the United States. The sharing of computer equipment amongst students had caused the “norovirus” outbreak. Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping as well as food poisoning. This goes to show that routinely cleaning and disinfecting shared computer equipment, most especially in school environments and offices, is very important. Have you ever heard of “Qwerty Tummy”? It refers to a nasty case of food poisoning acquired from the use of an utterly dirty computer keyboard (where the word “qwerty” was derived). Symptoms are similar to that of noroviruses.
Shockingly, you can also contract flu from a computer keyboard. People who have viral influenza often sneeze or cough, leaving behind droplets on hard surfaces, and a computer keyboard is no exception. The influenza virus can usually last up to 24 hours on hard surfaces.
The best way to prevent these health issues is to thoroughly clean your keyboard as well as your mouse. Here are simple steps on how to clean them:
- Shut down your personal computer and unplug it. Also, unplug your keyboard and mouse.
- Wipe the surfaces gently with a soft cloth. Slightly dampen (not wet) the cloth with a little amount of water or a standard cleaning fluid for computers.
- Turn the keyboard upside down and tap out any loose dust, lint or food crumbs. Clean the keys with disinfectant alcohol wipes.
- Get a vacuum cleaner. Use compressed air in short bursts to blow off dust and dirt. Never use a cloth to wipe down internal computer components.