When was the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard? I'm kind of ashamed to admit that for me, the answer is “never.” But — unsurprisingly — this is something I should apparently be doing on the regular, because our computer keyboards are disgusting. In fact, they are absolutely, mind-bogglingly filthy. But hey, that's why online office supply retailer Quill.com put together this handy-dandy infographic teaching us all how to clean these festering cesspools of grossness. Cold and flu season is just about here, so you may as well do everything you can to protect yourself, right?
Computer keyboards are one of the many things (but not beards!) that can be filed under the heading “Dirtier Than a Toilet.” Literally. A study conducted by UK consumer advocacy group Which? in 2008 tested 33 keyboards in its office and found that four of them could be considered potential health hazards — with a fifth keyboard playing host to five times the amount of germs found on an office toilet seat tested at the same time.
Of course, it's worth noting that this particular study was tiny — and as such, we can't assume that the results apply either to the rest of the computer keyboards in the UK, let alone to the keyboards in other countries (like our own). But as ABC News pointed out at the time, the role computer keyboards play in the spread of germs isn't insignificant: In 2007, for example, a norovirus outbreak at an elementary school in Washington, DC may have been spread via keyboard. 100 people grew sick during the outbreak.
That's where this infographic comes in. It features four simple steps (plus a boatload of other useful and horrifying information) about how to safely and effectively clean and disinfect your computer keyboard. It's worth noting that in step three, not all laptop keyboards were designed with removable keys; I've gotten into trouble with my non-work computer in the past after, um, literally typing a couple of the keys clean off. (I type with purpose.) Rather than simply being able to replace the key on my own, I had to ship it off to get a whole new keyboard installed, which kind of sucked. Moral of the story: If you don't know whether or not your laptop's keys are meant to be removed, don't pry them off anyway. That'll only end in tears.
Check out the full infographic below, and for more pointers, see these additional tutorials on Cnet, PC World, and How-To Geek (bonus points to How-To Geek's instructions for including helpful pictures every step of the way). Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go clean literally everything I own.
Ugh, you guys. I'm disgusting.