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How clean (or dirty) is your keyboard?
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May 05, 2008

The importance of a clean work station cannot be emphasised enough, specially with the recent research that suggests that office keyboards have more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat.

Now that statement may seem a little hard to digest for most. So how about we try a little test. If you are sitting at your desk, lift your keyboard off the table and lay a sheet of paper below. Now take a firm hold of your keyboard, turn it upside down and give it a sturdy little shake, or just gently tap it on your desk a couple of times.

Chances are that all sorts of horrid little particles flitted out. Even if they didn't, a peep between the keys will give you a good idea of all the dust particles, food crumbs, dead insects and other offensive fragments trapped in your keyboard.

'Ew, gross!' Is that what I heard you say? Well that's what Priya Shetty said when she carried out that exercise at her design company's office in Mumbai. "I never though of turning over the keyboard. Sure, I'd snack at my desk occasionally, but I'm usually quite careful not to drop crumbs for fear of ants (or worse cockroaches!)," she says. "I think i'll just slide in my keyboard the next time I feel like a snack."

According to the findings of the study conducted by the University of Arizona and reported on the BBC website, the average desktop computer carried 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.

Now while the findings might differ from geography to geography, it would not be completely unreasonable to assume that given India's humidity, the figures might be slightly more alarming.

But is the average office-goer aware of the hidden dirt and germs they are laying their hands on every working day?

Dusting ain't good enough
Sateesh Mundra, an IT technician in Hyderabad, was not. "I have never thought about how clean my mouse or keyboard is. Sometimes, the wheels of my mouse get coated with grime so, I scrape that off with a bit of paper, but that's about it," is what he had to say when told of the study. "I think I'll lay down some paper napkins before I eat at my desk now, just to prevent the crumbs getting in hard to reach places."

Nikita Mhatre, a trainee at a design firm in Pune, had a similar response. "I usually make sure my work table is dust-free and uncluttered, but I never really paid attention to the keyboard. Our office peon dusts it off every morning and I thought that was good enough, until I tried the test. That was a real eye-opener. Now I shake out my keyboard every day before I leave."

Keeping clean
Keeping your workstation, keyboard and mouse clean isn't a very difficult proposition. All you really need is a good disinfectant, a soft dusting cloth and a earbud.

Do you have tips on how to keep your workstation clean and infection-free? Do you follow special cleanliness rituals at your desk to make sure it's as clean as it can be? Share your tips with us on the messageboard below and the best entries will be featured next week right here on


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