Are your office gadgets “bugging” you?

The cold or flu can stop one’s productivity just about as fast as a virus can stop your computer.

Germs are everywhere in our environment, but this time of the year they may gang up on some of us and make us sick. Many of us are well versed in the proper techniques of handwashing, but it is important to take it a step further and take some precautions to prevent the seasonal germs from attacking us.

Start with your work space or desk top, how long has it been since you cleaned it off and wiped it down? With the beginning of cold and flu season, now is a good time to clean things up. A cold or flu can stop your productivity just about as fast as a computer virus can. Studies have shown some viruses can remain active on hard surfaces for a couple of days; these surfaces may include your telephone, cell phone, computer equipment and tablets.

Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President, Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute has some tips for giving germs a clean sweep. Begin with checking the owner’s manual for any specific cleaning instructions related to your equipment.

No matter what you are cleaning, the first step is to shut down the computer and unplug it from its power source. Don’t spray cleaners directly onto electronics or let liquids seep into openings. Use soft cloths on touch screens and monitors, avoiding abrasive materials including paper towels. Using compressed gas to clean between keyboard keys will help remove dust and grime, you will then be able to wipe down the keyboard. Make sure it is completely dry before reconnecting to the computer.

Cleaning the mouse to your computer is important, you are touching them daily! Again, if they are wired, unplug them, if they are wireless, remove the batteries. Wipe down with bleach free wipes or use an antibacterial cleaner on a soft cloth to wipe down the mouse.

Laptops need to have their keyboards and pads cleaned in the same way, again make sure the laptop is turned off. Be careful to not spill fluids into the keyboard. If you are using wipes, wring them out to remove excess fluids before using.

Cellphones, smartphones and tablets are breeding grounds for germs, bacteria and viruses. They are handled, set down and exposed to all kinds of situations. Research has been done showing mobile devices may have more bacteria than a toilet. Wipe down with clean microfiber cloths and change screen protectors frequently.

Use those wipes to wipe down the land-line phone, clean up the desk, remembering the edges too. If you share a work area this should be done on a regular basis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urge everyone over six months of age to get a flu shot; Michigan State University Extension teaches hand-washing programs for all ages. Simple steps involving a cleaning routine could keep you on the move instead of on the couch.

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