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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Coronavirus: Cleaning your phone and keyboard? Here are seven more things you should be disinfecting

Have you adopted a regular cleaning regime for your smartphone and keyboard? Yesterday, completely by accident, I discovered more things that I should be wiping on a regular basis. (Updated April 2020 with reader's tips)

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The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has, in a few short weeks, changed much about the world. People are washing their hands, cleaning their smartphones and keyboards, realizing just how much they touch their faces, and generally being more considerate about not spreading cough and sneeze droplets about the place.

While I think that all this is a good idea, the other day I realized that we touch a lot of stuff going about our day-to-day lives, and if coronavirus can indeed remain active in the air for hours, and on surfaces for days, we should be wiping and disinfecting things we touch more.

How did I find this out? I accidentally got some UV dye on my hands (I had been using it to trace a coolant leak), spent 20 minutes leaving an invisible trail in my wake until I noticed it was on my hands when I was putting away the UV light, and then used a UV light to take a look at the places I'd left traces of the dye.

Here's a list -- as you can imagine, this is not comprehensive list, but it represents the greatest concentration of the dye, and also were things that other might touch, and even eat and drink with.

  • Door handles (the worst, by far)
  • Desktop
  • Other peripherals
  • Charging cables
  • Mugs (and cutlery)
  • Pens (good reason to stop chewing them)
  • Glasses (prescription and sun)

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I've already instigated a policy of wiping my desktop, keyboard, peripherals, and smartphone. Now I'm adding these to the list. I'm not going mad over it, just giving them a clean with a Clorox wipe or soap and water (which is also effective).

The dye was also all over my face. Thankfully the dye is non-toxic, but it was a wakeup call about how much I was inadvertently touching my face.

There's another lesson here -- wash your hands. And often.

Reader's tips

Here are a few things readers added to the list:

  • Microphones and headphones
  • Screens that you sit close to
  • Light switches

You're leaving your smudgy paw prints all over the place, and a cough or sneeze in the hand can quickly travel and spread to a great many other surfaces that you and other people touch. I was using quite conservative amounts of the UV dye, and within minutes I'd spread it far and wide.

If I'd washed my hands sooner… well, I wouldn't have discovered what a slug trail I was leaving behind me!

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