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5-minute cleaning routine for the dirtiest place in your life

Your keyboard and mouse are dirtier than a toilet seat. It's time to change that.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Would you guess that the dirtiest place in your life is your desktop?

Studies have shown that computer keyboards can have more bacteria than toilet seats. One particular study by the University of Arizona found that there can be 400 times the amount of bacteria on a keyboard than on an average toilet seat. 

Grossed out yet? Keep those germs at bay by cleaning and disinfecting your keyboard regularly, especially if you share it and a mouse with others. Here's how.

Cleaning and disinfecting your keyboard

Now playing: Watch this: Clean and disinfect your keyboard
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Start by giving your keyboard a good clean. Unplug your keyboard from your computer, or turn it if off if it's wireless. 

If you have a laptop, turn it off and unplug the power cord. if you can easily remove the battery, it wouldn't hurt to do that too.

Flip it upside down and give it a good couple of shakes to loosen any debris. 

Now you need to go after the grime between and under the keys. There are several ways to attack it. One way is to make some cleaning slime that will grab gunk from the nooks and crannies. Another sticky alternative is to use clear tape. Here's how.

cleaning-slime.jpg

Cleaning slime can get the gunk under keyboard keys.

Alina Bradford/CNET

If sticky's not your style, you can blow some compressed air around the keyboard to remove crumbs, dust, and other fun stuff from between the keys.

After getting under the keys, wipe the tops of the keys and the palm rest lightly with disinfectant wipes. Avoid wipes with bleach, which can damage the finish on your keyboard. Also make sure that the wipes aren't overly damp by squeezing out any excess liquid before wiping the keyboard.

Cleaning and disinfecting your mouse

Now playing: Watch this: Clean and disinfect your mouse
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Your keyboard is nice and clean, but don't forget your mouse. It's also teeming with germs. First, unplug your mouse from your computer and remove any batteries. Or simply turn it off and remove the batteries if it's wireless.

If there are loose particles stuck underneath the scroll wheel, turn the mouse upside down and roll the scroll wheel to help dislodge anything that may be stuck inside.

Then, wipe your mouse with disinfectant wipes. Like with your keyboard, make sure that the wipes aren't overly damp. Also, take care to avoid getting moisture into any openings.

The same cleaning instructions apply for laptop touchpads. Simply turn off your laptop and swipe a disinfecting wipe across the touchpad.

A word of caution

Just in case you're thinking about tossing your keyboard in the dishwasher, we don't recommend it. Putting it in the dishwasher or submerging it in water will likely short-circuit the wiring. 

We also don't recommend that you disassemble your keyboard to clean it. Most manufacturers discourage users from disassembling keyboards, including removing keys. Doing so will probably void your warranty.

Editors' note:  This article was originally published on Aug. 17, 2011, and has been updated.

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