How Dirty Is Your Computer Keyboard?


The investment required to set up and maintain a dental practice is ever growing. Equipment and staffing costs continue to rise year on year and although recommendations and regulations, like HTM01-05, make sense they do impose further costs.

Furthermore, the record keeping required for your decontamination regimes add administrative overheads which cannot be ignored.

It must, therefore, make sense to ensure that new equipment, in this case, keyboards and mice, will contribute real value to the practice as well as compliance. If you can kill these two birds with one stone, then as the profession adopts more and more digital systems you will have one area fully covered.

Offering patients treatment in a safe environment and minimising cross-infection risks is your daily priority. But do you consider the role of your keyboards and mice in achieving this? Health Technical Memorandum 01-05 (HTM01-05) has some guidelines on this topic.

We have analysed what they say about keyboards and mice and how you can make sure you comply.

The starting point is that harmful micro-organisms can be transmitted by blood and saliva through direct human contact, instruments, and water.

Even without direct contact, equipment is exposed to microbes by the aerosols, and such microbes can then be transferred through touch. 

Therefore, the basic concept of the HTM01-05 is to make sure you choose equipment that can be decontaminated, that you do so and log the action.

Are you wrapping your keyboards in kitchen cling film?

It’s a low-cost strategy, but in some European countries, such an approach will get the practice closed down.

Fortunately, things are less draconian here, but this will not be deemed as acceptable.

Are you using conventionally constructed keyboards that can be washed?

It’s a move in the right direction, but you have no real control of what’s collecting inside the keyboard.

Even washing through with a disinfecting agent cannot guarantee that biotopes are not present.

Standard Keyboards

Are a trap for germs and bacteria and challenging to clean. If any piece of your equipment is likely to harbour germs and bacteria and turn into a biotope, it’s your keyboard!

It will, therefore, come as no surprise that HTM01-05 says that ‘Covers should be provided over the computer keyboard, or conventional keyboards should be replaced with “easy-clean” waterproof keyboards.’

Isopharm have a range of easy clean and waterproof medical grade keyboards and mice. Fully sealed, they are certified IP68. To view these available products click here >

These keyboards and mice reach the highest level of protection against particles and fluids.

They have no open cavities, crevices or gaps so germs or bacteria can no longer hide and grow when the device is cleaned correctly. They can be immersed in water or disinfectant solution for an extended period, as well as easily wiped down.

They are EN6060-1 compliant which means they are safe to use in a dental or medical environment as there is no risk of interference with any other co-located electronic or digital systems.

Regarding cleaning, HTM01-05 indicates that the patient treatment area should be cleaned after every session.

To face this frequent cleaning, you need a keyboard you can clean quickly.

The surface can be cleaned in a single wipe! To disinfect spills of blood, the HTM01-05 guideline advises dentists to use a 1% sodium hypochlorite solution with a yield of at least 1000 ppm free chlorine. And yet again, this protocol suits keyboards and mice from Isopharm.

They can also be disinfected with alcohol-based disinfectants, as well as with soap and water to remove disinfectant residue. Even the mice can handle the same regime.

ByRick Craven