According to a new study, infectious bacteria can lurk in computer keyboards, especially keyboards that are shared.
University of North Carolina researchers tested 25 keyboards taken from the burn intensive care unit at the school's Health Care System.
Every keyboard tested showed signs of a staph bacterium, a common cause of infections suffered by hospitalized patients. Diptheroids, a problem for patients with weakened immune systems, were also discovered.
Scientists then compared the effectiveness of various disinfectant cleaners, including water, alcohol, chlorine and store-bought wipes made by Clorox. Although all cleaning materials were effective, the Clorox-made wipes lasted longer than the others.
If your mouse and trackball haven't been cleaned in a while, chances are excellent -- especially if you share your equipment with others -- that nasty bacteria reside in those computer accessories. Many don't realize that the same can be said for the keyboard you're using, too.
Some of the most common sources of viral infections you come in contact with daily hide on commonly used items such as:
As in many things involving optimal health, the simple things -- washing your hands with plain soap and water, cleaning those handles on your shopping cart or wearing gloves -- are often the best means to protect your health.
It is a bit more difficult to clean your keyboard with soap and water. A cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide is probably the safest method. However, it may not clean the dirt off. You can use isopropyl alcohol, as that removes the dirt and also cleans the keyboard.
However it is important to understand that isopropyl alcohol is not something you want to regularly touch, as it is a relatively mild toxin. So peroxide would be safest, but you can use alcohol wipes, especially if you wear rubber gloves.
That said, I am not a big fan of blaming bacteria for illness, as it is your impaired immune system that allows you to get sick. Immune system impairment typically results from not enough sleep, uncompensated emotional stress, not enough sunlight or exercise or eating sugar or too many grains.
However, clearly bacteria and viruses can and do cause illness when your immune system is impaired, and it most likely makes sense to reduce obvious exposures.