Not everything that falls in the cracks of your computer keyboard can be removed with a gas duster or vigorous shaking. The oils from your fingers can get on everything you touch, including your keys. Splatters of sugary drinks or other sticky liquids can also fall on the surface as well as in the cracks between keys. As you use the keys, this oily and sticky gunk spreads to other parts of the keyboard, capturing and trapping the dirt and germs from your fingers along the way.
To fight the gunk, and to promote good health, add surface cleaning and germ killing to your routine of keyboard cleaning. Weekly, wipe the surface of your computer with a lint-free cloth that's slightly dampened (not dripping). If you're using a laptop, be sure to shut it off first. Though you could use water to dampen the cloth, it won't cut the dirt and grease, and it won't kill the germs. Instead, use sprays and pre-moistened wipes that are specially designed to clean a computer keyboard. Some of these cleaners include anti-bacterial chemicals to help kill germs and sanitize the surface.
Do you really need to buy special cleaner to get the same results? Not really. You can get similar results using a 50-50 mixture of tap water and isopropyl alcohol, available for a fraction of the cost. Though the alcohol is also an antiseptic, it may not kill all the germs. To kill more germs, use an antibacterial household surface cleaner after you've removed the grimy stuff. Prevent the liquid from running between and under the keys by not spraying cleaner directly on the keyboard and by making sure the cloth or wipe is damp but not dripping.
Need to go deeper? You can use cotton swabs damped with isopropyl alcohol to get into tight spaces between and under keys. Be careful doing this, though: disconnect the keyboard or remove the laptop battery to prevent shock, and avoid getting the cotton fibers caught in the tight spaces. Also, be prepared to go through a dozen or more cotton swabs through this process, depending on how dirty the keyboard is. You can pop off keys for easier access, but only use this as a last resort: the keys might be delicate and break in a way that prevents them from being reattached. Never glue a broken key back on your keyboard!
Get started cleaning that keyboard now! Click over to the next page for lots more information about how to keep your keyboard clean and sanitized.
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- Childs, Dan. "Your Keyboard: Dirtier Than a Toilet." ABC News. May 5, 2008. (Nov. 9, 2010)http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Germs/story?id=4774746
- Greenfieldboyce, Nell. "Are Computer Keyboards Dishwasher Safe?" NPR. June 14, 2007. (Nov. 5, 2010)http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11029793
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