How to Clean Your Disgustingly Germy Keyboard

You’ve been ignoring this germ hotspot for too long.

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If you think all the office germs are hanging out in the bathroom or the kitchen sink, think again: Microbiologists at NSF International studied elementary schools and found that the humble computer keyboard contained more germs per square inch than the toilet seats, making it one of the germiest items you encounter in a given day. G-R-O-S-S.

But it kind of makes sense when you consider how often you clean your toilet seat. Let’s be real: When was the last time you cleaned your computer keyboard?

The key to cleaning your keyboard safely and effectively is being gentle to avoid damaging or breaking off any keys. In other words, don’t just swipe a dusting cloth across it, or you might never see your X, Y, and Z keys again.

Here’s how to clean the keyboard using the objects you probably already have lying around your office.

  • Blast out dust and dirt with a compressed air canister. Most offices have these (or you can buy one online or at an office-supply store), and they definitely do the trick.

  • Pick up dust and crumbs with anything sticky, like a strip of tape or a Post-It note. No compressed air? No problem. This is the perfect quick-fix alternative.

  • Disinfect with this rubbing alcohol trick. Use a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to wipe down keys (and the little grooves between them). Make sure it’s just damp—not dripping wet—or you may end up taking your newly germ-free keyboard to the tech guy due to water damage. And yes, the cotton swab is necessary here: it’s small enough to get in those little gaps and gentle enough to prevent damage.

You’ll be a bit less likely to spread germs now, but the keyboard isn’t the only place you need to look out for. Here are more tips for preventing the common cold.