Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Clean That Computer Keyboard

Doing So Removes or Inactivates Most Bacteria Tested in Study
WebMD Health News

April 26, 2006 -- You might want to add "clean the computer keyboard" to your daily chores, based on a new study.

The study, published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, comes from William Rutala, PhD, MPH, and colleagues at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.

Rutala's team tested 25 computer keyboards from UNC's Health Care System for bacteria. The researchers also placed bacteria on several laptop computers and tried to remove those bacteria with various disinfectants.

The bottom line: The keyboards were home to several sorts of bacteria, and cleaning helped.

"Our data suggest that microbial contamination of keyboards is prevalent and that keyboards may be successfully decontaminated with disinfectants," the researchers write.

What's on That Keyboard?

The researchers tested 25 computer keyboards from UNC's burn intensive care unit, cardiothoracic intensive care unit, and six nursing units housing patients receiving short-term care.

Rutala's team found two or more microorganisms on all of the computer keyboards. For instance, all of those keyboards tested positive for a type of staph bacterium (coagulase-negative staphylococci), which is one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients. Diphtheroids were found on 80% of the keyboards. CancerCancer, AIDS, and other patients in the hospital whose immune system is weak are at high risk for infections from diphtheroids.

Remember, those keyboards came from a hospital. Your home or office might not have the same set of bacteria. However, another study released in February by other researchers showed various bacteria in the workspaces of teachers, accountants, bankers, and other professionals.

Cleaning the Keyboard

Rutala and colleagues loaded certain keys on laptop computers with several sorts of bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus).

After 45 minutes, the researchers used various disinfectants to try to delete those bacteria from the keyboards.

The cleaners included paper towels dampened with sterile water, alcohol, or chlorine. The researchers also tested disinfecting wipes made by companies including Clorox and Metrex.

Rutala has consulted for both Clorox and Metrex. Another researcher who worked on the study has consulted for Clorox, the journal notes.

"All disinfectants, as well as the sterile water control, were effective at removing or inactivating more than 95% of the test bacteria," the researchers write. The three commercially packaged wipes were all effective for 48 hours, but the paper towels moistened with alcohol or sterile water didn't show long-term effectiveness, the researchers report.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat