Computer Keyboard Germs: Your Fingers aren't the Only Things Dancing All Over Your Computer Keyboard
Considering how often fingers come into contact with computer
keyboards, it's not surprising that a new study published
in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found some
pretty gross results.
Twenty-five computers from the University of North Carolina's
(UNC) burn intensive care unit, cardiothoracic intensive care
unit and six nursing units were tested for bacteria. The researchers
found that every computer keyboard was contaminated with two
or more microorganisms.
You may be transferring two or more types of bacteria
onto your fingertips while you type.
"Contamination of Keyboards is Prevalent"
The bacteria that was found was the type that could be detrimental
to hospital patients:
All keyboards tested positive for a staph bacterium
called coagulase-negative staphylococci. This is one
of the most common causes of bloodstream infections among
80 percent of keyboards contained diphtheroids.
This bacteria represents a significant infection risk
for those whose immune systems are weak, such as cancer
and AIDS patients.
"Our data suggest that microbial contamination of keyboards
is prevalent and that keyboards may be successfully decontaminated
with disinfectants," the researchers said in their report.
Water and Disinfectants Help Clean Computer Keyboards
Cleaning your keyboard with a disinfectant wipe or
even plain water may remove over 95 percent of the bacteria
The researchers also put bacteria onto laptop computers,
then attempted to remove the bacteria with various substances
after 45 minutes. The researchers used a paper towel dampened
with sterile water, alcohol or chlorine, or disinfecting wipes
made by Clorox and Metrex.
It was found that all of the disinfectants, as well as the
sterile water, removed or inactivated over 95 percent of the
bacteria. The researchers said that the commercial wipes were
effective for 48 hours, while the alcohol- and water-moistened
paper towels were not effective in the long-term.
It should be noted that lead researcher William Rutala, PhD,
MPH, has consulted for both Clorox
and Metrex, while another of the study's researchers has
consulted for Clorox.
Keyboards are Not the Only Germy Office Accessories
A series of studies called "Germs
in the Workplace," found that the following four
office surfaces had the most bacteria (in this order):
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Phones, computer keyboards and computer mice are self-explanatory;
dirt from your hands and mouth gets transferred easily on
to these items. Desks make the list not only because of the
hand-to-surface contact, but also because they're used for
so many different purposes throughout the day.
"Desks are really bacteria cafeterias," said Dr.
Charles Gerba, who led the study. "They're breakfast
buffets, lunch tables and snack bars, as we spend more and
more hours at the office. Germ levels on desks could be considered
a business liability."
How to Keep Your Computer Keyboard and Office Germ-Free and
Researchers of the UNC study suggested cleaning hospital
keyboards daily, or when visibly soiled. They also recommended
cleaning the keyboard with a disinfectant wipe before a new
person uses it.
At your own office, however, you can keep your office clean
using the highly recommended PerfectClean
OfficePure Pack, which is perfect for getting rid of bacteria
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Unlike ordinary cleaning rags that simply push dirt around,
PerfectClean's revolutionary ultramicrofiber construction
enables them to reach deep into microscopic crevices (NO other
cleaning tool available even comes close!) and remove everything
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PerfectClean tools work because at an astonishing 3 microns,
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For more tips on how a clean office -- including keeping an
uncluttered desk -- can keep you happy and healthy, see the
related articles below.
Surprising 9 Jobs With the Highest Germ Exposure -- and What
You Can do About It
Surprising Health & Psychological Benefits of a Clean,
Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 2006 Apr;27(4):372-7
April 26, 2006