Keyboard Hygiene – Clean Your Dirty QWERTY
The office keyboard – that ubiquitous piece of business kit – every desk has one! But what dangers are lurking in your dirty QWERTY?
Tests have revealed that some office keyboards can harbour FIVE TIMES more bugs than a toilet seat!
That may be an alarming figure, considering the amount of keyboards on desks at small businesses across the country, but did you know that MRSA and MSSA may be lurking under your space bar?
Which? magazine conducted the tests with an expert swabbing more than 30 keyboards at their London offices. The microbiologist who carried out the tests was looking for bacteria that are commonly found in supposedly less hygienic places and bugs that are linked to food poisoning as well as coliforms and enteric bacteria, both of which are found in faecal matter and are indicators of poor hand hygiene.
Of the keyboards swabbed, a number had staph, that is staphylococcus aureus, and one was so filthy that it had to be removed and quarantined as a precaution because the levels of bacteria were so high!
The Causes of Poor Keyboard Hygiene?
Staff failing to clean their hands is the most common cause of bacterial build up on keyboards, chiefly a failure to clean their hands after visiting the toilet or bathroom.
Staff eating at desks is another reason why keyboards are so mucky – Crumbs between and underneath keys are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.
And then there’s dust – Dusty keyboards trap moisture and, as is commonly known, about 80% of dust is dead skin!
The Risks of Poor Office Hygiene?
Well, as was mentioned, there’s a risk of catching staphylococcus or staph for short. 1 in 3 people carry the infection and it becomes problematic once in broken skin – boils, impetigo and skin infections.
Worse still staph, once it gets into the bloodstream, can cause pneumonia, infect heart tissue or even blood poisoning. The worst form of staph is MRSA which is well known for being the most resistant strain to antibiotics. Now you don’t want to catch that, do you?!
E.Coli is another, potentially deadly, bacterium that is commonly found in the guts of animals and humans… how did THAT get on your keyboard?
Or how about coliforms on your QWERTY keyboard – Commonly associated with faeces, coliforms are a good indication of whether or not staff are washing their hands after they’ve visited the loo. Along with enteric bacteria they are a common cause of urinary tract infections.
The last problem is one of simple reputation – If you have a filthy keyboard, and anybody else has to share a desk with you, you’re going to get some stick for it!
Keep It Clean
There are a number of ways to prevent the risks associated with a scummy keyboard, so bear these in mind unless you want your staff to be sick from "Qwerty tummy".
Try to get staff to eat away from their desks. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, especially in today’s exceptionally busy office environments, but please, try to get staff to eat elsewhere.
Now Wash Your Hands! Make sure that staff are washing their hands, put up signs. Encourage an office culture where people are keeping their hands clean, not just for themselves, but for the health and safety of others too.
Leave your keyboard in the sun. Strange but true – Apparently leaving a keyboard in direct sunlight will kill bacteria as they don’t like UV rays.
Clean Your Keyboards Regularly. If staff are going to have the occasional snack or meal at their desk, and even if they aren’t, then the least you can do is have a regular cleaning regime. Upend keyboards, shake out the detritus, use compressed air to blast out the deeply embedded gunk and wipe down with a damp cloth, furniture polish or alcohol wipe from your office supplier.
Use washable or waterproof keyboards. In some industries they use specially designed keyboards that are either splashproof or completely water resistant – They’re more expensive than standard keyboards but are much less prone to problems arising from dust, old food etc.
So, you know the risks of having dirty keyboards in your office or workplace and you know what to do about it. Try and keep your working areas as hazard-free as possible and have a regular cleaning regime. Sanitise those keyboards.