We’ve all heard the shocking statistic that there are more germs on the average computer keyboard than there are on a typical toilet seat. But as often as we might pay lip service to it, how often do we really give the keyboard, mouse and other peripherals a good and proper clean?

It can be daunting to take on the job when you’re nervous about protecting electronic devices, but it’s important to do so regularly. Here are a few tips for cleaning these items safely - and it goes without saying, but turn off the computer and peripherals before trying to clean them up.


Cosmetic damage on the casing is one thing, but if you scratch the screen itself while you’re cleaning the monitor it will stare you in the face every time you log on. Worse, it might affect what you see (or can’t see), making the screen much harder to use.

An anti-static cloth similar to the ones used for TV screens is particularly useful, but if you don’t have one to hand grab a soft cloth, dampen it very slightly with water and then use it to gently dust the display. An LCD screen should never be touched with paper towels or anything similar - the coating on the screen is fragile, so it’s easy to damage - while the same is true of all forms of cleaning solution.

Incidentally, the same tips apply to any other glass or transparent materials that you can’t afford to scratch. That means scanner plates and webcams should be treated in a similar manner.

Keyboard and mouse

Your keyboard and mouse are filthy. You might not be able to see them but the germs are there, just waiting to be picked up the next time you rest a finger on a button. Everything you touch in an average day - food, drink, your pockets, door handles that people with dirty hands have used first - probably ends up covering these peripherals eventually.

To rid yourself of this dirt and bacteria, at least for a while, disconnect both the keyboard and the mouse from the computer. Then run over them with a disinfectant wipe, or a slightly damp cloth onto which disinfectant has already been sprayed. Be firm without getting too heavy-handed - you’ll be amazed at how much grime comes up.

In particular, pay attention to the nooks and crannies that are difficult to reach, such as the trackball on the mouse and in between the keys on a keyboard. Cotton buds can be very helpful in these cases - damp them slightly with water or if possible, disinfectant, then use them to get into all the places where dirt and germs like to hide.

Hard drives, speakers, scanners and printers

Scanners and printers need a bit more specialist care when it comes to internal cleaning, but on the outside they’re generally easy to clean. Do the same with them as you would with other peripherals such as external hard drives - take a soft cloth and give them a light dusting every once in a while. Keeping the dust off a smaller item is easier if it’s stored in a case or even a pocket of a laptop bag.

However, if you do notice that a more stubborn smear has made its way onto the casing and dusting won’t clear it, opt for a little bit of rubbing alcohol on the cloth - it’s fairly gentle, but should still do the job.

© Axonn 2015