Helping you balance your online life

Mar 15th


EW! Look What's on Your Keyboard

Your keyboard--yeah, the very one your hands touch hours each day--could be covered in harmful disease-causing bacteria, including E. coli and staph. That's the word from a British study conducted by microbiologist James Francis, reports ABC News.

And it's not just your keyboard. Your mouse is just as riddled with the dirty stuff.

Dirty keyboard

For this study, which was commissioned by the consumer advocacy publication group Which?, Francis swabbed 33 keyboards, a toilet seat and a toilet door handle at the publication's London offices. The results? Four of the 33 keyboards were so dirty they were considered potential health hazards, and one of them had levels of germs that were five times greater than those on the toilet seat!

The takeaway: Keyboards--including the spaces between keys--are a haven for microbes.

Granted, it was a very small study, and the findings can't be extrapolated to include all keyboards in all offices. But the results are in line with previous research that shows our daily routines often put us in harm's way with some potent germs. It's time to clean up!

Five steps to clean your computer system:

1. The Keyboard
• Shut down your computer.
• Pick up keyboard, turn it over and give it a good shake. It's best to do this over a trash can.
• Use cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol or a can of compressed air to clean between the keys.
• Use a clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the top of the keys.
• Finally, use a dry cloth to gently polish the keys.

2. The Monitor
• Gently and repeatedly swipe a microfiber cleaning cloth, which is dry, soft and lint-free, across your screen.
• NEVER use harsh window cleaners, such as Windex, on your computer monitor. If it's so dirty or smudgy that you need more than a dry cloth to get it clean, use a solution of mild soap and water.

3. Your Optical Mouse
• To clean the underside of the mouse, unplug it from the computer. Turn it over, so the bottom is facing up. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, and gently clean the four "feet," which collect dirt and grime. Clean the center "eye" of the mouse with a dry cotton swab (no rubbing alcohol). Be very gentle so you do not scratch or shatter it. Finally, moisten a soft paper towel with warm water and gently rub the bottom of the mouse.
• Clean the mouse wheel on the top using toothpicks. Be gentle and careful!
• Clean the top and sides of the mouse using a mild dish soap and warm water. Place a clean, soft cloth in the soapy solution, wring it out (it should not be dripping) and gently wipe down the mouse. Dry it immediately.
• To clean the cord, use a clean cloth dipped in a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Place the cord inside the cloth and move the cloth from the mouse to the end of the cord.

4. Your Cloth Mousepad
• Rub it with a clean wet cloth and bit of shampoo. Using hot water, thoroughly rinse the mousepad so all shampoo is removed. Pat it dry with a towel and then hang it up to dry on a clothesline or some other place. Do not use it until it is completely dry--all the way through to the inner foam.

5. Clean the Guts of Your PC
• Your hard drive also needs a bit of cleaning. But you can't use shampoo on that! Instead, System Mechanic will fix and speed up your PC automatically--getting rid of the junk that slows it down. The new and improved Version 14.6 will repair errors, crashes and freezes, optimize the Windows registry and defrag the hard drive.