06 March 2009

Personal Technology: Cleaning the Keyboard

A friend requested that I address sanitizing keyboards. Can you believe the quality of friends I have? You could interpret that question a number of ways but Washington is holding a summit on health care and my friend wants to discuss the germs on her keyboard.

Well, OK. We start with the basic research: most keyboards are no more germy than any other item in the home or office. Workplace studies occasionally turn up one or two incredibly dirty keyboards that can only be thrown away but that's not the norm. (Actually, I can attest to the presence of such extreme keyboards. I was once the "new employee" who received such a board on my first day in the office... by afternoon, a secretary went off to a supply store to buy me a new one. But I'll admit that I still carry an image of that board in my head. Yes, keyboards can get pretty bad.)

My friend protests she is not being finicky. But a number of off-campus people come through her office and request use of her computer "for just a few minutes." Consequently, she is concerned about the wide array of ailments that can come from a mix of people. And she acknowledges that she has no immune system to speak of and therefore.... needs to know about sanitizing keyboards.

The list of strategies actually grew longer than I anticipated.

1. Computer turned off: alcohol wipes—allow to evaporate before rebooting.

2. Computer turned off: Clorox wipes—again, let dry.

3. Computer turned off: rubbing alcohol (90+%) on a terry cloth but only to the damp level—then let dry.

4. Computer turned off: rubbing alcohol on a q-tip. Yep, let dry.

5. "Medical keyboard" or food service style designed to be waterproof and thus soak-able in alcohol, bleach, etc. See Man & Machine for details. Costs go up to $200 but the Cool4kids board is only $50.

6. Keyboard cover/skin made of rubber or clear plastic. Google that.

7. Variation on that theme: keyboard "membrane" made of flexible plastic; a "universal" style is $11.95 from protectcovers.com.

8. Germ-resistant board with a product like Microban in the mix. Available for $30 and up. Good search term: antimicrobial keyboard.

9. Box of rubber/latex/non-latex gloves to make visitors put on before they use your board. (No, I wouldn't do it, either.)

10. Just say no, you can't use my computer.

Great photo is cropped from a larger one at spotcoolstuff.com.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

1 comment:

The Sociologist said...

Thanks for such quick research! I will try several of the suggestions for my germy laptop keyboard.