Health Team

Consumer group: Keyboards dirtier than toilet seats

Posted May 12, 2008 7:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2008 11:28 p.m. EDT

— You may be surprised to learn what lies inside keyboards, especially those that you share with others.

A London consumer group found computer keyboards to have five times more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat.

Swabs of more than 30 keyboards discovered germs related to staph infection and E-coli. You may not be able to see the bacteria, but microbiologists can with the use of ultraviolet light.

"If you sneeze or blow your nose, you put viruses on there (keyboard), which can spread a cold. And, even worse, if you go to the toilet and don't wash your hands afterwards, you'll put coliforms on there. All of these can cause disease in other people,” said Dr. Peter Wilson, with the University College Hospital of London.

To get rid of harmful bacteria, gently shake out any food crumbs and then use alcohol wipes or a disinfectant to clean the keyboard.

David Wallach uses paper towels and Windex to clean his keyboard before he uses it.

“I find it really helps me to work better having a clean environment,” he said.

Angela Brotons goes a step further by cleaning it before and after use.

"So I try to do my best to keep the place clean and also for whoever else is here, whoever comes after me,” she said.

A recent UNC Hospital study in Chapel Hill, N.C., found that gently moving a disinfectant wipe over your keyboard for 5 or 6 seconds is enough to get rid of almost 100 percent of germs.