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Your laptop is disgusting—here's how to clean it

That keyboard is crawling with bacteria.

Laptop Credit: Antonio Guillem/Getty Images

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Just like your phone, your laptop is something you probably use every day—yet rarely clean. And while it may not seem that disgusting (after all, your keyboard doesn't look dirty), according to a new study, it is.

Below is the scary truth about what happens when you don't clean your keyboard, plus our own experts' top tips for keep your laptop clean. Spoiler alert: It's a lot easier than you think.

How gross your laptop keyboard really is

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What's lurking underneath the surface?

Think about how many places your hands have been (public bathrooms, Starbucks door handles, gas station pumps) and then think about those hands touching your keyboard. So it's really no surprise that your laptop could be covered in bacteria. One study found two different types of drug-resistant, potentially harmful germs—Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecium (VRE)—on the average laptop keyboard.

And even more disgusting, another study that analyzed 300 different laptops found traces of E. coli on every laptop. Yuck. Experts warn that those bacteria on your keyboard can then be transferred to your skin, or worse, your mouth which can cause breakouts and even disease if you unknowingly ingest them.

How often you should clean your laptop keyboard

Of course, it depends on how much you use your laptop. But if you're someone who uses it every day, our senior lab testing technician (and resident germ guru), Jonathan Chan, says cleaning your laptop once every two weeks is a good rule of thumb. And keep in mind that it's not just about how often you clean your laptop, it's also about how often you clean your hands. Some experts recommend washing your hands before and after using your laptop to prevent bacteria from spreading.

The best way to clean your laptop keyboard

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Wipe away any harmful germs.

First things first, Jonathan says that prevention is key. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by keeping dust and debris from getting under the keys, which can render them useless. "Hold the laptop upside down and gently shake it to dislodge any large debris," Jonathan recommends. "Then use a vacuum with a dusting tool attachment to get the finer stuff, taking care not to press down too hard so as not to scratch the surface." (You can also use a can of compressed air to safely blast dirt and dust out from under the keys.)

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Another one of our favorite laptop cleaning products is this sticky goo. One of our writers put the popular cleaning gel to the test and found it was incredibly effective at picking up dust and dirt quickly and easily. And if you want to sanitize your keyboard (not merely remove debris), wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and either a computer cleaning solution or isopropyl alcohol.

Get the ColorCoral Universal Cleaning Gel for $8.99

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