These days, you can’t go anywhere without hearing something about “social distancing”, washing your hands frequently with soap and water and keeping your hands off of your face. It’s on the radio. It’s in the mail from the federal government. And it’s certainly on the internet especially when you’re updating yourself on your favorite news website or on YouTube.
It’s the result of Covid-19. It’s here and very much part of our new reality.
Whether you’re one of the “essential workers” or preparing for a possible month-long break as you shelter-in-place, you’d want to make sure you double down on cleaning your office equipment and sanitizing them. A virus can stay potent on surfaces from hours to days.
Difference between Cleaning and Sanitizing
When we’re out buying cleaning products, it often seems that the word cleaning and sanitizing are interchangeable.
Cleaning, more properly, refers to that action of removing something dirty. These include things that are grimy or leaving some stain on some surface. We also use the word clean when we fix things up, vacuum or dust surfaces. It’s generally about putting things in order, including taking out the trash.
When we understand cleaning this way, it doesn’t involve sanitizing yet. Sanitizing refers to actions that significantly reduce the growth of bacteria, virus and fungi on any surface. To do that, it necessarily involves using products or base chemicals such as alcohol. That’s sanitizing.
Importance of Hand Washing
Other than social distancing, the WHO and the CDC repeatedly emphasizes the importance of handwashing. And it’s not just about remembering to wash your hands but washing your hands very frequently.
Why is hand washing that important?
It may seem redundant to say, but we use our hands to hold on to things, grab things and manipulate things. Our hands are our ubiquitous tool.
And with that kind of adaptability and usefulness, our hands are constantly exposed to microscopic germs. It’s what happens when we pat a dog, shake someone’s hand, hold on to a rail, receive change or sign a bill. We constantly use our hands.
And it’s exactly why, in this global health crisis with Covid-19, we need to be washing our hands almost obsessively frequently. We really can’t know when and where we’ll be exposed to it. It’s true that the germ doesn’t just move from surface to surface, but cutting off this path of infection gives us a far better chance of staying away from it.
Make sure you’re putting in at least a full 20 seconds of handwashing with soap and water, taking care to rub the back of your hands, in between fingers and under your nails. The soap will rid you off of any germ as effectively if not more so than using isopropyl alcohol.
Keyboard and Mouse
When it comes to office equipment most often used, we don’t think there’s anything that’s more commonly used than your keyboard and mouse. And as a managed service provider, we’ve seen our share of grimy and filthy keyboards. It doesn’t surprise us that 46% of people clean their keyboard less than once a month
Start with cleaning before sanitizing. Since the keys on the keyboard and the trackpad are the very areas that often get tapped and pressed, you’d want to focus your attention on wiping these clean first. You’d notice the smudges and stains through all the years of use. You can even identify which keys and letters are tapped on the most.
And before you start wiping or rubbing anything, make sure to turn off your computer or laptop, or detach your keyboard from any power. It’s to keep you and your electronics safe.
The best thing to use here is your clean cotton rags or, better yet, microfibers you moisten with soapy water. That’s moistened and not soaked or dripping.
I would use dish soap mixed in water for both cleaning and sanitizing. It’s great for even taking out any sign of oil.
For clearing out the dust on your keyboard surfaces, you may also use a can of compressed air you’d be able to buy from an office supplies store. It’s a helpful tool for removing sediments that might be stuck in crevices. There are also vacuum cleaners that come with special compact nozzles for cleaning between keys.
When you’ve gone through rubbing each key gently of any smudges or stains, take the time to rub over the rest of your keyboard frame and mouse. Be gentle with any part that moves while you’re at it.
When your keyboard and mouse have dried, it’s time to sanitize. The most highly recommended sanitizer used is 70% isopropyl alcohol. Apply it on a cotton rag to moisten before you use it to gently rub every surface area of your keyboard and mouse.
Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent. It should never be used on any varnishes nor should it be mixed with bleach.
With 70% isopropyl alcohol, you’d be able to effectively sanitize any surface. It’s widely used in hospitals for disinfecting medical tools. You can also use commercially available disinfecting wipes, just be sure they are not dripping wet before wiping down your keyboard and mouse.
The monitor screen of your computer presents a unique surface for cleaning. It’s primarily either made from glass or an LCD screen with a softer material composite. If it’s made from glass, you can just go through the process of cleaning and sanitizing with solutions.
After making sure you’ve turned off your computer monitor, you may start cleaning your glass computer screen with a clean cloth. Better yet, you might prefer to use a microfiber cloth that’s designed to pick up dust, oily smudges and moisture.
The popular Windex might work well-clearing smudges on glass windows but it’s actually not recommended for computer and laptop screens. It’s not meant for sanitization.
Instead, you can just use soapy water to moisten your clean cloth which you may use to wipe your computer screen, gently going from the top corner down to the bottom in a side-to-side direction.
A separate dry cloth can be used to immediately dry the monitor.
You may also use Lysol wipes to do the job. However, you need to be very careful as these wipes are soaked and you don’t want any drop of it going into any crevice on your computer. Just squeeze out as much of the solution in your wipe until you’re sure not a drop will drip out. And then, go ahead and wipe down the screen as directed.
It’s a different situation with LCD screens. While Apple has frequently made known that their screens can be cleaned and sanitized using these same solutions of water and soap or wipes, you might want to make sure of that by reading its cleaning directions in its manual just to be on the safe side.
PC laptops with LCD screens tend to also be very sensitive to these solutions. It’s recommended that you just use dry microfiber cloths to wipe down and clean your monitor as they tend to be sensitive to chemical ingredients such as ethyl alcohol. Take your time to read the instructions for cleaning.
Your smartphone is practically always in your hand. If not, it’s always on your person, ready for any call and any message. It makes sense that it has to be one of the things in our person that needs both cleaning and sanitizing.
Fortunately, they’re made so that it’s not too difficult to do both, as long as you don’t dunk it in any cleaning liquid. Just wipe them gently.
You’ll still need to watch out that no bead of solution seeps into any crevice on your phone such as those around the buttons and the ports.
Take your time to wipe down your phone with a moist clean cloth using 70% rubbing alcohol to both loosen any grime and sanitize. Don’t use bleach. Make sure you leave your phone to dry after.
The office phone is simpler to clean and sanitize than the keyboard. It’s simply because of its homogenous form with a hard durable plastic casing that’s more easily cleaned and sanitized.
And just like how you’d clean and sanitize your computer, laptop and smartphone, use a clean cloth to clear out any dried and hardened stains. You may use soapy water on a cloth, moistened to wipe down the office phone over its handset, its attached coiled cord and the phone dialer base itself.
Make sure to disinfect the phone’s mouthpiece.
You may sanitize every external part of the office phone. It’s basically every part of the phone anyone touches. Again, you may either use 70% isopropyl alcohol or the common disinfecting wipes.
Headsets & Headphones
Headsets & headphones are almost just as often used in any office environment. They’re often what you use for any online conference or meeting or playing tunes while you work throughout the day.
Before you start going through the procedure of cleaning and sanitizing as we’ve repeatedly shown in different office equipment, it’s worth noting that headsets and headphones do come in different shapes and sizes including material.
The part of the headphones that cup your ears are typically made of leather and would require a little more care. However, generally, every part of a headset and headphones are resilient enough to allow for the use of water and soap mixture, alcohol and even the readily available Lysol wipes.
Remember to take the time to allow the cleaning solutions to dry before you begin to use them again.
Modular desks are often the norm in business offices. They are durable, made from poly-layered composite or synthetic wood. What’s going to be more of a challenge is clearing your work and personal stuff on it. Nevertheless, desks need to be cleaned and sanitized.
Once you’ve cleared your desks of papers and other office equipment, use a good clean rag to wipe down every surface. Moisten your them for wiping, going into every inch and corner of your desk. When dried, go ahead and use the usual disinfectants such as isopropyl alcohol or Lysol wipes.
Office chairs tend to also be modular in their form, make and construction, often using synthetic fabric for cushion seats and backrest with hard plastic covering and metal strut for what props the chair up from its wheeled legs.
You may use the vacuum cleaner to suck out all the accumulated dust that has settled under the seat and backrest. You may look into using a spray bottle to disperse a mix of water and alcohol over these seat cushions and wiping them down with a clean cloth. Use 2 cups of warm water and 1 cup of 70% isopropyl alcohol.
In the era of shelter-in-place and many companies moving to remote working, the living room has become the new breakroom. Game controllers can often be neglected as part of any office cleaning routine, but if you have to have your office at home and you need to clean and sanitize, you shouldn’t forget these often held devices.
Just like how you clean and sanitize your office phone, desk and computer, take the time to use a dry clean rag to wipe down every surface and corner of your game controllers, especially the buttons or levers if any. Be gentle when it comes to parts that are more sensitive or pliable.
Use either rubbing alcohol on cloth or Lysol wipes to wipe down the game controllers, making sure any liquid does not seep into any crevice that can short the internal circuitry. Just as you do with any electronic device and equipment, turn them off first before applying any cleaning solution and procedure.