Keyboard Cleaner

Keyboard Cleaner

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  1. You have had your computer for a few years now, and the keys on the keyboard are beginning to feel a little sticky and harder to push. That brown appearance the keys have taken on is not the results of natural aging of your computer’s keyboard. The brown gunk is dust, hair, pet dander, oils and probably a bit of lunch gobbled down while working over the past couple of years. On laptop computers, this residue that builds up can create problems with your display, cause faulty function of or block I/O (input/output) ports and adversely affect the function of the fans. Keeping your keyboard cleaner will help prevent malfunctions and keep the cooties away.

    Why You Need to Clean Your Keyboard

    According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), consumer group Which? conducted a series of tests on the office equipment located in its London offices in January 2008. The tests revealed the presence of bacteria bad enough to cause food-poisoning. During the conduction of the tests, 33 computer keyboards were swabbed and the results were…well, disgusting to put it mildly.

    • Four of the 33 keyboards swabbed were found to be potential health hazards with one of the keyboards harboring five times more germs than one of the office toilet seats.
    • A microbiologist deemed one of the keyboards so filthy he directed it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.
    • The keyboard that was removed had 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria.

    Microbiologist, Dr. Peter Wilson of University College London Hospital, stated that a computer keyboard is many times “a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut.” Some of the office equipment was swabbed for bacteria known to cause food poisoning like staphylococcus aureus and E.coli. Dr. Wilson said that sharing keyboards among office workers could foster the transmission of illnesses.

    Which? found that one of the causes of bacteria-ridden keyboards comes from users eating at their desks and fallen crumbs encourage the growth of microorganisms. Not washing hands after using the restroom and other poor personal hygiene habits could also be a cause.

    Types of Keyboard Cleaners

    It is best to consult the owner’s manual for your computer to get the manufacturer’s advice on appropriate cleaning options, especially when considering a laptop keyboard cleaner. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning a laptop keyboard thoroughly at least once a year. Computer manufacturers also advise against the use of any cleaning agent containing harsh chemicals or ammonia to clean any keyboard, with many recommending plain soap and water and a soft cloth.

    Whether you use water and a mild soap or a commercial keyboard cleaner, it is beneficial to have a microfiber (synthetic fiber) cloth for wiping, as they are often finer than silk and work great for cleaning monitors as well. There are a number of different types of commercial cleaning agents from which to choose.

    Compressed or Canned Air (Air Duster) – Most commonly found in aerosol cans, this keyboard cleaner works by shooting a blast of compressed air. It is useful for eliminating most of the dust and gunk lurking between and underneath the keys. Many photographers use an air duster to clean their camera lenses. You can purchase single air duster cans for $2 to $13.48. Some retailers offer packs of three to six cans for $22 to $28.

    Vacuums – Mini-vacuums are available for cleaning keyboard and other dust-sensitive electronic equipment. Some of these micro-cleaning tools come with a USB port attachment so you can run it off your computer’s power, and some of the vacuums have a toner filter system for cleaning up toner spills. Prices for mini-vacuums range from $9.95 for a simple one-piece model to $179.99 for a model with the toner filter system. Mid-range vacuums that come with several attachments range from $19.99 to $64.

    Keyboard Cleaner Spray or Wipes – An all-purpose keyboard cleaner spray can be used to keep your keyboard clean. Some can kill bacteria in 30 seconds and fungi and viruses within 10 minutes when applied as directed. Residual surface protection can last for up to 24 hours after the initial application. You can obtain an all-purpose spray cleaner appropriate for use on keyboards for $15.45 to $29.99 for a single 32 ounce spray bottle or $153.35 for a case of 12 bottles. The spray cleaner fluids should never be sprayed directly on your computer components, including the keyboard. Apply the cleaner to a soft cloth first, then wipe. Cleaning wipes can be found for $4 to $19.

    Microfiber cloth – A soft microfiber cleaning cloth is best for wiping your keyboard and monitor as well. They can be used wet or dry and will safely remove dirt, lint, dust, fingerprints and other smudges. You can buy a single microfiber cloth for $2.99 to $8.75 and packs of three or four ranging from $5.99 to $18.00. Cases of microfiber cloths are also available at a price range of $23.75 to $44.48 for a case of 25 and $104 to $348.96 for a case of 250.

    Keyboard Cleaner Kits –Commercial cleaning kits typically contain some type of scrubbing tool for those hard-to-reach places, a liquid cleaning solution and one or more finishing cloths. Keyboard cleaning kits can be found for $3.99 to $13 for a single kit.

    When you finally decide it is time to break down and clean that germ-infested keyboard, set aside adequate time so you do not have to rush through the process. A thorough and careful cleaning will prevent possible damage to your computer and ensure the continued smooth operation of your keyboard.

    What Works Best?

    Everyone has their preference as to what works best when cleaning your computer keyboard, and as mentioned previously, most manufacturers recommend your basic soap and water clean-up. Canned air effectively removes larger debris and dust particles but it does not really clean (disinfect) the keyboard. For that, you will need a keyboard cleaner spray, wipes or good old-fashioned soap and water.

    The benefits to having an effective cleaner are an extended life for your computer and more efficient performance. Most often a computer does not wear out, but rather it “burns” out. That nasty brown gunk that accumulates can cause overheating, malfunctioning drives and chip burnout, not to mention a sticky, inefficient keyboard.

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