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Innovation

Killer keyboards

OK, so keyboards probably won't kill you. However, the H1N1 season began in this hemisphere August 15th and seasonal flu is approaching quickly. Given that the majority of our user base falls into the category of people at greatest risk for infection and complications from H1N1, our computer labs should certainly be on our radar screens for prevention efforts.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

I'm not talking about really cool keyboards here. I'm talking about the petri dishes that we call keyboards in school computer labs. Have you ever watched elementary school kids in a lab? They sneeze, cough, wipe runny noses, and otherwise exude illness and then go right back to typing and mousing. Older folks, quite frankly, aren't much better and shared computer labs really are a significant source of potential disease transmission.

True, those keyboards probably won't kill you. However, the H1N1 season began in this hemisphere August 15th and seasonal flu is approaching quickly. Given that the majority of our user base falls into the category of people at greatest risk for infection and complications from H1N1, our computer labs should certainly be on our radar screens for prevention efforts.

All students will now be using hand sanitizer before and after using the labs in our district. That's a start. However, as I looked for effective ways to quickly and easily clean keyboards and mice (state recommendations around here are leaning towards daily or twice-daily cleanings of frequently touched surfaces), I came up blank.

Sure, Clorox wipes will do the trick pretty well, but Apple recommends a multi-step process that just isn't realistic given time constraints and everything else our staff will need to be keeping extra clean. Non-Apple keyboards could just be wiped down, too, but without those great chiclet keys, it's tough to clean them well in any sort of speedy way.

In my ideal world, there would be a quick aerosol that I could spray on a keyboard and mouse that would kill all sorts of bugs without killing any students (or at least triggering any asthma attacks). I haven't found one yet. So, as I often do with questions about real world sorts of things, I'm turning to you: What are you using to regularly clean your keyboards and mice (if anything)? Have you found any good spray solutions or are disinfecting wipes the best choice? How about just a light misting of alcohol? Or is that just a flamethrower waiting to happen? Let me know and talk back below.

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