Keyboards harbour harmful bacteriaWhich? Computing tests reveal bugs

01 May 2008

blue keyboard

Some keyboards carry more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat, Which? Computing reveals today.

Researchers tested keyboards from a typical London office and found bacteria that could put their user at high risk of becoming ill.

The germs found could cause food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea and other stomach upsets.

Bacteria

In one case, a microbiologist recommended the removal of a keyboard as it had 150 times the recommended limit of bacteria.

That meant it was five times filthier than a toilet seat that was swabbed in the same test.

5 times filthier than a toilet seat

One keyboard was found to harbour this many bacteria

The main cause of a bug-infested keyboard is eating lunch at your desk, as the crumbs encourage the growth of millions of bacteria.

Poor personal hygiene, such as dodging the wash basin after going to the toilet, may also be to blame.

Survey

Despite the obvious health hazard of a dirty keyboard, the frequency people clean their computers varies widely, the Which? Computing survey shows.

It found that 10% said they never cleaned their keyboard, with a further 20% admitting to never cleaning their mouse. 

Almost half cleaned their keyboard less than once a month.

Which? Computing editor Sarah Kidner said: ‘Most people don’t give much thought to the grime that builds up on their PC but if you don’t clean your computer you might as well eat your lunch off the toilet.

‘Why not give your PC a spring clean? It’s quite simple to do and could prevent your computer from becoming a health hazard.’

Which? Computing tips for a cleaner keyboard:

  • first shut down and unplug your PC
  • wipe surfaces with a soft, lightly dampened, lint-free cloth
  • shake out any dust or food crumbs from the keyboard and disinfect with alcohol wipes.