Hardware

A crazy idea -- put those dirty keyboards in the dishwasher

It's been shown that keyboards hold more germs and bacteria than just about any other surface in the home or office. How do you clean them - or do you clean them at all?

It's been shown that keyboards hold more germs and bacteria than just about any other surface in the home or office. How do you clean them — or do you clean them at all?

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The Four Germiest Surfaces:

• Phones

• Desks

• Computer keyboard

• Computer mouse

I don't want to paint a picture of myself with an image of being a germaphobia kind of guy (accurately known as mysophobia), someone like Howard Hughes, because that's not me at all.

mysophobia (noun): abnormal fear of or distaste for uncleanliness or contamination.

Like I said, that's not me, but I sure do think about all the crud that builds up on keyboards around the office, especially when I have to sit in front of someone else's to fix a user issue. I don't pull out the latex gloves, but I have intentionally washed my hands after using another person's keyboard. Besides, those dirty and grungy keyboards just look bad, don't you think?

When keyboards became cheap enough, they actually became a throw-away item just to get somebody a clean one. This was especially true when a new employee was given another person's computer — I'd always provide a new mouse and keyboard. After one such instance, however, instead of throwing one away, I decided to put it into the dishwasher to see what would happen. I was amazed at how clean the thing got. It actually looked brand-new.

I turned it upside down, shook the heck out of it so all the excess water would run out, and then placed it upside down onto some paper towels so it could further drip-dry. Every once in a while, I'd shake it again and place it in a slightly different position to make sure all the water would drain out of it.

When I tested it a few days later, I made sure to plug it into a computer that was expendable; if it trashed the computer, I wouldn't care. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that the keyboard worked perfectly — and it looked great. Since then, I've washed about a dozen keyboards in the dishwasher, and I haven't had one issue with any of them.

It's interesting to do an Internet search with the key words keyboard dishwasher. Most major keyboard manufacturers, like Microsoft and Logitech, only recommend cleaning them with the can of air or a damp cloth, but I'm obviously not the only one who's had success putting them in the dishwasher. In fact, I even ran across one manufacturer who marked their keyboard dishwasher safe.

Disclaimer: Put your own keyboard in the dishwasher at your own risk.

I remember an instance that happened years ago (about twenty years ago) when I was working for an architect who was so tight with a dollar that he'd snap someone's head off at the mere suggestion of spending any money. I laughed when a coworker actually bought another keyboard with his own money after he spilled a can of soda onto it. This was twenty years ago, mind you, when keyboards were more sensitive and much more expensive. I think it set the guy back almost one hundred dollars. Perhaps he should have tried the dishwasher experiment first.

Okay, we seem to like polls around here, so let's ask the question.

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