IT and Tech

How to disinfect your keyboard and mouse while working at home

Very few computer users regularly clean their mice and keyboards let alone disinfect them. In these more bacteria-aware times, now might be a good time to change that. If you have dusted off your home computer to work from home or have a work laptop on your dining table, keeping it clean is an essential part of working at home safely.

Not only does disinfecting your mouse and keyboard clean up peripherals that get a lot of use, it also helps stop the spread of all bacteria between hand washes. If you use your keyboard, go out with the dog, wash your hands thoroughly and come back to work, all the bacteria you had on your hands before you washed them are still on your keyboard.

As bacteria, including viruses, can live up to 72 hours outside a human body, keeping high traffic areas clean is essential.

Keyboard cleaning

Our usual method of cleaning the keyboard uses a can of compressed air, cotton buds and kitchen towel. Disinfecting a keyboard takes that a step further. I cheat and use antibacterial wipes but you can use surgical spirit if you have some.

While I describe cleaning a PC keyboard here, the same principle applies to laptop keyboards.

  1. Power off your computer.
  2. Give the keyboard a wipe down with a cloth.
  3. Squirt compressed air between the keys if you have a mechanical keyboard.
  4. Generally clean as much of the keyboard as possible, playing particular attention to between the keys.
  5. Use an antibacterial wipe and wipe the surface of the keyboard down. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the keyboard.
  6. Push your forefinger into a wipe and deliberately wipe the surface of every single key.
  7. If you have a mechanical keyboard, push the wipe between every key to maximise coverage.
  8. Leave the keyboard to air dry before powering up your computer.

If you’re using surgical spirit instead of a wipe, pour a little onto a clean kitchen towel and wrap the towel around it so the area is just damp. Perform the same as above, refreshing the surgical spirit when it is used up.

Disinfecting the mouse

Disinfecting a mouse is slightly easier. As we tend to wrap our hands around the mouse, a lot of dirt and oil is transferred onto it. That makes it a prime candidate for a good clean.

  1. Clean the mouse while your computer is powered off.
  2. Give the mouse a wipe with a dry kitchen towel to remove surface dirt and dust. Make sure to cover the entire surface and between the buttons.
  3. Use an antibacterial wipe or surgical spirit covered kitchen towel and repeat the wipe down. Make sure to get into any crevices and between buttons and scroll wheels.
  4. Wipe down the USB cable if your mouse is wired to make sure that’s clean too.

If you have gaming peripherals, trackpads or other peripherals, you may as well clean those while you’re there. Bacteria will find any place it can to hide out until a host arrives so the more you clean, the less chance you have of collecting passengers!

During normal times, the mouse and keyboard should ideally be cleaned weekly. If you eat at your desk, perhaps more often than that. Right now, if you have the supplies, I would suggest wiping your keyboard down daily or every other day. There’s no point increasing hand washing if you’re sharing bacteria between washes via your keyboard and mouse…

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