Is Your Keyboard Making You Sick?

Now that we’ve reached the time of year when those notorious cold and virus bugs infiltrate our office, it’s probably a good idea to do a little sanitizing. We hear it on the radio and drive past pharmacy storefronts all the time that say “Protect yourself from the flu now!”

But did you know that your work space and specifically your keyboard can be a huge factor in what makes you sick?

Most of us are pretty vigilant about keeping our kitchens and bathrooms clean, but how often do you think about cleaning your desk area – a place where you spend typically 40 hours a week touching the same few surfaces?

Recent studies from the University of Arizona found that the average desk area had 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Gross, right?

Illness-causing bacteria thrive on commonly touched work surfaces, like keyboards, your computer mouse, and desk phones. If you work in an environment with a commonly shared work space, the chances for infection are even greater.

Eating at your desk is fairly common too, making keyboards a breeding ground for bacteria.

Even more, another study analyzed swabs obtained from keyboards and found microbes on all surveyed, including mold, yeast, and bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Micrococcus and Enterococcus. Reports have also discovered more than 3,000 organisms per square inch on a keyboard, and more than 1,600 on a computer mouse.

Before you go into an insane compulsive cleaning mode, not everything we touch needs to be sterilized to be safe. Most bacteria does not hurt us. You probably have heard by now that we all have bacteria living on us and we need the good stuff to fight off the bad stuff, that’s why antibiotic soaps are not encouraged much anymore unless you’re in a healthcare setting, or need some serious sanitizing.

However, desks, phones, computer keyboards and your mouse are huge places for contamination because we use them so often.

Throw in a little coughing and sneezing and essentially a mini cesspool has been created as those germs can linger around on a surface for up to three days.

Obviously our hands are the best place to start as 80% of common infectious diseases are spread through poor hand hygiene.

So plain and simple old-fashioned soap and water should be an on-going thing throughout the day.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Computer Clean?

Here are a few recommendations to help avoid getting infected:

Clean out your keyboard.

Turn your keyboard upside down, and lightly shake it to dislodge debris. Use alcohol based, lightly damp wipes for cleaning once your computer is powered down. Follow up with a light dose of compressed air to shake out excess dust, dirt and crumbs. While you’re at it, gently spray the compressed air into the fan and grill of the main computer tower as this will improve performance in the long run.

Protect your face.

It’s been said that office workers touch their face on average 18 times an hour, bringing all those pesky germs from the keyboard and phone right up to your respiratory and digestive systems every three and a half minutes.

Wipe down surfaces.

Use alcohol based, non-toxic wipes on your desk to periodically wipe down your equipment of the germs, bacteria, and dust that accumulate over time.

Don’t eat at your desk.

Crumbs provide a huge breeding ground for bacteria. When you eat and then type, you are probably transmitting bacteria from your mouth to the keyboard.

For an added benefit, add some plants to your desk to not only uplift your mood, which is a health boost, but it also improves air quality, increases productivity, and reduces stress.

Office plants have been reported to reduce absenteeism by up to 50% and reduce minor illness by 30%.

Remember, simple hand washing is always the best way to stop the spread of bacteria!

These are simple tasks you can do at work to protect yourself during the cold and flu season. However, if you’re concerned about your computer’s performance, BIS is always here to consult with you to determine the best solution to increase your computer’s efficiency and productivity. Contact us for a free network consultation at any time!
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