How to Disinfect Your Mouse and Keyboard

A hand wiping a mouse with a

You probably don’t clean your mouse and keyboard very often, but you should. This is especially important if you share a computer with other people. At present, this could also prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Cleaning your computer’s peripherals takes almost no time and can keep you and others from getting sick. You can even use the same cleaning tools that you use to disinfect your smartphone.

RELATED: How to disinfect your smartphone

What you will need

Cleaning and disinfection are not the same thing. To lightly clean a device, you may only need a little canned air and a damp cloth. Disinfection, however, is a much more thorough process. You need a disinfectant to kill germs that could make you sick.

To disinfect your office, you need an alcohol-based disinfectant that contains at least 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. You can buy aerosols, pump sprays or wipes that will do the trick, just make sure they contain the necessary amount of ethanol or isopropanol.

A 70% bottle of isopropyl alcohol (friction).Tim Brookes

If possible, use wipes or paper towels that you can get rid of when you’re done. Because alcohol evaporates quickly, you can spray your gadgets and let them air dry. It’s easy to do on a regular basis, and it’s especially great if you’re sharing equipment with other people.

You may also want to get a can of compressed air to blow the dust off your keyboard. However, keep in mind that pressure washers can damage laptops and other all-in-one devices.

Finally, if one of your devices has crevices or hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, you can use a sharp object, such as a wooden toothpick, to dislodge dirt without damaging the device.

Cleaning your mouse

There are many different types of mice, so there is no single cleaning option for everyone. If you have a small ergonomic mouse, you will probably find it easier to clean than an angular “gamer” mouse covered with additional buttons and handles.

First, just use a damp, lint-free cloth to clean your mouse as best as you can and remove any obvious dirt or grime.

Then use an alcohol spray or wipe to completely disinfect the entire mouse. If you’re using a spray bottle, let the alcohol work its magic for a few minutes, then wipe off any remaining dirt with a paper towel or clean cloth.

A hand wiping a computer mouse with a cloth.Maridav / Shutterstock

Inspect your mouse for any other signs of dirt. If you didn’t get it the first time, disinfect it again. Harmful microbes cling to dirt, so the cleaner your device, the cleaner it is. Use a toothpick on all seams, handles or other areas where dirt can build up, then disinfect these areas again.

If your mouse is discolored due to years of use, alcohol will not restore it to its former glory. If you’ve cleaned it several times and it doesn’t get whiter, know when to stop.

If your mouse is wired, you can also clean the length of the cord and the USB connector with a little alcohol.

Cleaning your trackpad

If you have a laptop or Apple Magic Trackpad, you will want to clean it regularly and thoroughly. This is especially true if you are working on your laptop at school, in cafes or on a train while commuting. If you touch a handrail and then touch your trackpad, you could get sick.

Before cleaning it, make sure your laptop is completely turned off and unplugged to avoid any disastrous consequences. Using an alcohol spray or wipes, thoroughly disinfect the surface of the trackpad.

If your laptop keyboard has separate buttons for right and left click, be sure to use a toothpick to clean the grooves or gaps between the chassis and the touchpad.

Most trackpads are recessed, which means there is a lip around the edge which can trap all kinds of grime. Use your toothpick to remove any dirt from it, then disinfect the area again with alcohol.

It may also be a good time to disinfect the area to the left and right of the trackpad, where your hands normally rest. Remove any obvious dirt with a soft cloth, then disinfect it properly with an alcohol spray or wipes.

Cleaning a laptop keyboard

Laptop keyboards require a more sensitive approach than desktop models because the main components of the computer are housed beneath them. Before you begin, completely turn off and unplug your laptop.

Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe off any visible dirt or dirt stuck on the keys. Pay special attention to the keys you rarely use. Use a little elbow grease to remove as much dirt as possible.

A hand wiping a detached keyboard.Maridav / Shutterstock

Now use your wipe or alcohol solution to disinfect the surface of your laptop. Don’t over saturate it. Use a paper towel or wipe the pads to uninstall or remove any stubborn dirt. Carefully inspect your keyboard and if you find more obvious dirt, clean it again.

Most laptops have a chiclet-style keyboard with small spaces between the keys to keep dirt and dust out. However, these small spaces still collect dirt from your fingers, so pay close attention when cleaning.

Let your laptop air dry for a few minutes so that the alcohol has time to evaporate before turning it back on.

You can also clean the dust off your laptop to improve its cooling capacity.

Deep cleaning of a desktop keyboard

The type of desktop keyboard you have made a big difference in how you clean it. For best results, you will want to clean under the keys in addition to their surfaces. Always unplug your keyboard (or remove batteries from wireless models) before cleaning it.

If you have a mechanical keyboard, it probably comes with a cap removal tool. You use it for remove the caps so you can access the switches below. You can also remove keyboards on most conventional keyboards without damaging them. However, you must consult the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding.

A cap removal tool prepares to remove a key from a keyboard.Jason Fitzpatrick

Once the caps are removed, you should be able to blow the dust or debris hiding underneath. You can also wipe the inside of the keyboard with alcohol wipes or a spray bottle and paper towel. If you remove the keys, you can clean each one individually in the same way.

If you can’t get under the keys, you can still remove a lot of dust and other debris with pressurized air. These products normally include a thin tube on which you can work between the keys and blow anything stuck underneath.

When your keyboard is free of dust and debris, you can move on to cleaning the keys and surfaces. First remove as much dirt as possible with a clean, damp cloth. Then clean up any additional grooves and knobs you may have.

Then disinfect the entire keyboard with your alcohol spray or wipes. Between the keys and wipe them with a paper towel or disinfectant wipe. If you have a wrist rest, also remove it and clean it thoroughly. Also clean the sides of the keyboard and its cable.

Be sure to let the alcohol evaporate before reconnecting your keyboard.

Is your keyboard disgusting and somewhat consumable? If you want a nuclear cleaning option, you can consider disassemble your keyboard and put it in the dishwasher. Just be aware that your keyboard may not survive, but it will be clean.

RELATED: How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Keep your devices clean

Insure yourself regularly clean all your gadgets and devices.

The following guidelines will make it easier to maintain your computer and its accessories:

Do not eat at your desk.
Avoid keeping drinks near your keyboard to avoid spills.
Wash your hands before using devices.
Keep disinfectant wipes or alcohol sprays near your devices and use them often.

If you work in a particularly dusty or dirty environment, such as a workshop or garage, consider investing in a keyboard cover. You can usually wash them with soap and hot water, which makes cleaning your keyboard much easier.

It is also especially important to keep the devices clean if you share a computer. This is why we recommend that you keep an alcohol spray or wipes nearby to encourage others to use them. You can always spray the keyboard with a little alcohol and let it get to work.

As the world continues to fight coronavirus, it is more important than ever to remember how personal hygiene also plays a role. Always wash your hands before and after using shared equipment to protect yourself and others.

RELATED: How to clean and disinfect all your gadgets

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