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Computer Cleaning and Keyboard Hygiene Facts

This fact sheet will focus on keyboards, mice, headsets, and hand-held devices. It will touch briefly on monitors and computer cases, with resources for further information.

“Germs per square inch”

“Germiest Jobs Report”, a study done by Dr Charles Gerba at the University of Arizona, found that a telephone is contaminated with up to 25,127 germs per square inch, keyboards at 3,295 per square inch, and the mouse at 1,676 per square inch. It also found that surfaces commonly used by teachers – phones and keyboards – had the most bacteria per square inch, nearly ten times more than other professions. The report states that “The number of bacteria or germs found on each surface is thought to be directly related to item usage and cleaning practices” noting that teachers’ work items are commonly shared between staff and students. The results of this study draw attention to the need for effective and preventative cleaning protocols.

Cleaning Supplies

• Soft, lint-free clean cloth – for outside of equipment only; do not use to clean any circuitry such as RAM or motherboard.
• Water or rubbing alcohol – other solvents may be bad for computer plastics.
• Cleaning products specifically designed for computer cleaning.
• Small, portable vacuum cleaner (battery-powered only) – for dust, dirt, hair, and other particles; do not use standard vacuums as they generate static.
• Cotton swabs – do not use cotton balls as they break apart.
• Can of compressed air – ensure that it does NOT contain lubricant.

Keyboards

• Clean your keyboard weekly.
• It is recommended that you keep all food and drink away from the keyboard area, not just because of messy spills, but because the crumbs that sit in the keyboards can breed bacteria and fungi, especially if they get wet.
• Turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake out any particles. Using compressed air, blow any remaining particles and dust from in and around the keys. Using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, or a slightly damp cloth with soap and water, clean the sides and tops of the keys.

LCD Monitor Screens and Computer Cases

• LCD screens are not made of glass and need to be cleaned differently from CRT monitors. Do not spray anything on them. Use a soft cotton cloth, with a little rubbing alcohol, if needed.
• Only the exterior of the computer case should be cleaned. Use a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Computer Mouse

• Clean your mouse monthly. If there is a ball, remove it.
• Gently blow compressed air into the ball seat.
• Using a clean cloth dipped in alcohol or slightly damp with soap and water, rub the outside surfaces clean.

Telephones and hand-held devices

The hazard most associated with these devices is potential hearing impairment – people rarely think of hazards associated with cleanliness. Yet, these are the most used and shared of all work equipment. General cleaning for dust, dirt and stickiness is simple: gentle rubbing with a clean cloth and water. For a more thorough disinfecting, especially for shared equipment, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab. This should be done weekly for single usage and before use each time when shared.

Headsets

• Whether they are dedicated use or shared, they should be cleaned frequently. Headsets that are shared should have removable ear components that are dedicated for each user. Ear infections are a common ailment for headset users.
• Headsets should be avoided as much as possible, as frequent use can lead to the compromised hearing.
• Headsets should be cleaned weekly or as often as needed, with soap and water. Foam cushions should not be shared and should be replaced as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

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