You may never look at your computer keyboard and mouse the same way again when you find out just how dirty and germ-ridden they may be.
How about 100 times more mucky than a toilet seat?
According to a 2002 study by the University of Arizona that’s what you risk each day as you tap out that report and click on a website link.
It’s enough to make you consider using gloves to help stem to spread of germs that could result in illnesses such as the common cold and flu.
But a Richmond resident has made it his business to clean up and sanitize the workplace while at the same time help improve employee productivity.
Kritesh Dewan, 25, who runs ecoSCRUB, says computer keyboards and other electronic devices workers come into contact with on a frequent basis can be havens for bacteria and germs.
“I noticed while servicing computers for a lot of commercial clients that there were a lot of dirty keyboards out there,” said Dewan who is a computer technician by trade.
With the low cost of replacing equipment putting a crimp in the computer servicing side of his business — potential clients preferred to buy new rather than have something fixed — Dewan decided to explore another route. He researched the sanitizing side of servicing and found there were no firms out there specializing in that aspect.
“A lot of companies were either not doing it (cleaning their own equipment) or leaving it to their employees,” he said. “And when you walk into their offices and see their equipment, it can be pretty filthy.”
Many employees either don’t care or are reluctant to clean their own workstations, Dewan said.
“But when you educate them as to what can actually be there, they get interested in knowing more,” Dewan said, “because there can be more germs and bacteria on your keyboard than in a traditional household.”
Much of the problem has to do with workers eating at their desks and neglecting to clean their fingers before continuing with their tasks on the computer.
They can also can drop small crumbs of food onto the keyboard where they can become lodged in the crevices and provide a breeding ground for bacteria that can result in a condition known as “QWERTY Tummy.”
Neglecting to hand wash frequently can also lead to the spread of cold and flu bugs.
“In offices, that’s the biggest thing people can pass along if they share equipment,” Dewan said, adding that is a contributor to sick leave figures that could be cut down if the proper sanitzation is done.
But even in-house cleaning work can miss the mark.
“Janitors, they usually just take one cleaner, a rag and hack away at everything,” Dewan said. “And that usually just makes the surface look clean when in fact they haven’t sanitized the surfaces.”
But it’s not just the workplace that can be a happy home for germs to be transferred.
Dewan said bank ATMs and retail debit and credit card machines can also be hot spots for a build up of germs.
The benefits can be a healthier workforce with, “less people calling in sick because they are not exposed to as much bacteria through surface contact.”
So far, Dewan’s business is steadily expanding as his team of seven cleaners make the rounds.
“It’s constantly growing,” he said. “It’s all about educating people and getting them interested in it.”