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August 2017

5 ways to keep your laptop clean

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Workplace Hygiene

Tips and tricks for keeping your laptop and desktop keyboard clean

If you work in an office, the chances are extremely high that you have a laptop or a desktop computer, possibly even both. Even if you don’t work in an office, these days there is a good chance you have a computer at home. A 2015 study on technology ownership in the US showed that 73% of U.S. adults own a desktop or laptop computer.

Computers are everywhere, but have you ever stopped to think about what might be hiding between the keys of your laptop, in your desktop’s keyboard, or on your mouse?

These people were challenged to shake out their keyboards and have a look …..

All those crumbs, skin cells, eyelashes and fingernails (to name just a few of the culprits) have a tendency to jam the keys, meaning that a dirty keyboard not only hinders your typing, but is also laden with bacteria and disease causing germs. University of Arizona Microbiologist Dr Charles P Gerba conducted several studies in which he looked at  germs in the workplace, and his results showed that the 4 most germ-contaminated spots in the office are,

  1. Phone
  2. Keyboard
  3. Computer Mouse
  4. Desktop (ranked from most germy to least germy)  

Believe it or not, Dr Gerba’s study also showed that the average desktop is generally far dirtier than the average office toilet seat, harbouring 400 times more bacteria!

There also a gender divide when it comes to desktop cleanliness. The level of germs were fairly gender neutral when it came to desktops and phones, but computer mice and keyboards had three to four times more germs in women's offices than in men's.  Researcher speculated that this had to do with the fact that women are more likely to keep food in their desk drawers, and by inference, snack or eat at their desks.

So here are our top five suggestions for keeping your laptop clean:

1. Wash your hands after you go the bathroom, and after you eat: 

Whilst some of you may think that this is stating the obvious, the fact that pubic hair (yes, you read that correctly) has been found in computer keyboards means that clearly not everybody thinks it’s as obvious as we do.

Failing to wash your hands after using the bathroom is the quickest way to transport dirt and  bacteria (and pubic hairs!) back to your desk, keyboard and mouse.  And hands contaminated with the remains of your lunch are just going to make the situation worse.


DID YOU KNOW: 15 October is Global Handwashing Day, an annual opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of proper handwashing habits to help prevent the spread of infection and reduce sickness.

Find out more


2. Don't eat or drink at your desk:

Again, this feels like stating the obvious, but around 67% of office workers eat their lunch at their desks, hence the huge amount of food debris that comes out of our keyboards. We can't help the shed skin cells, or the random fingernail, but crumbs and sticky food buildup can definitely be avoided. Food debris will breed further bacteria and create an even more unhygienic workspace.

And if you need further incentive to step away from your desk at lunchtime, creativity is stimulated by changes in environment. Staying inside all day, eating your sandwich at your desk, is not only detrimental to your keyboard, but to your creative thinking as well.  Take a break from your screen, relax, and connect with your colleagues; your creative side and your keyboard will thank you.

3. Don't let your children use your laptop (ever!)

Well, maybe that’s a bit drastic, but sticky little fingers and biscuit crumbs are not a good combination, so make sure that if you do let your kids use your computer, they have also followed the advice above and have washed their hands and aren’t eating while they type /browse / research /play angry birds.

4. Clean your computer yourself once in awhile:

Dust and food crumbs should be shaken out of keyboards and keyboards should be wiped with a soft, lightly dampened, lint-free cloth. They should also be disinfected with alcohol wipes, but make sure you have switched everything off and unplugged the keyboard and mouse before you start. Find out  how dirty your computer is! [downloadable keyboard test - uploaded in hubspot “content offers “ folder]

5. Get a techno hygiene service in once a quarter to sanitise your keyboard and office equipment:

Initial offers a techno hygiene service specifically designed to clean and sanitise the most germy of office equipment. This specialised treatment can be done quarterly, and includes the removal of grime, dust, stains like tea and coffee, correction fluid, food particles, skin cells, saliva and other debris from office equipment such as telephones, switchboards, keyboards, monitors, CPU’s, photocopiers, fax machines and shredders.


Want to find out how dirty your laptop is and if you need some help cleaning your office equipment. Try our keyboard cleaning test and find out what is lurking in your keyboard.

Download keyboard hygiene test


Let us know whether you have any handy tips and tricks of your own to keep your laptop and keyboard clean and germ free.

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Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie is the Category Manager at Rentokil Initial, and has worked in the hygiene and pest control industry for 12 years. Although after 12 years cockroaches still have the power to terrify her, she has learnt countless ways to defeat germs both in the workplace and at home. She is a passionate advocate for Global Handwash Day and the health benefits that can be derived from regular handwashing and hygiene practices. When not contributing to the Initial blog, Nathalie is writing press releases for sister businesses, Rentokil and Ambius. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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