Wherein I Clean the Dirtiest Keyboard in Computing History

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Doug Aamoth/TIME.com

I live in Boston and make the trek to TIME’s New York office roughly once a month for hand-shaking, high-fiving and general work-related merriment. It’s the all-important “face time” that keeps the current generation of people who publish straight to the web gathering together every day to type quietly in a large, open room.

I have no desk in the New York office, which means I grab whichever desk is open in the bullpen (the large, open, quiet-typing room) when I get here. This time around, I was directed to a desk with an all-in-one iMac connected to the following keyboard:

I’ve been using computers for roughly 25 years, and I can safely say this is the dirtiest keyboard I’ve ever seen. That’s coming from a guy who spent years running his own on-site tech support company. I’ve seen it all.

The way to properly clean — nay, “disinfect” — an iMac keyboard, according to Apple, can be found here but the general idea is to use some sort of wet wipes, wringing each one out first (gadgets and moisture generally don’t play well together). Also, unplug the keyboard from the computer before you start cleaning it.

Roughly 10+ wet wipes and 10+ minutes later:

I’m nothing of a neat freak — my own keyboard at home could use a good scrubbing come to think of it — but the amount of germy crud covering most keyboards has been well enough documented over the years (here’s a recent article) that I thought this one could use a wipedown. And my co-worker who uses this computer (and shall remain nameless) might enjoy a clean keyboard when he or she gets back. I’m already enjoying it and I don’t even work here!

Also, if you have an old-school desktop keyboard and you’re looking for a geeky way to clean it, the keyboard-in-the-dishwasher technique is a fun way to pass some time. Don’t try this method with newer keyboards — especially wireless ones — though. For wireless keyboards, you’ll want to disconnect them, power them off, remove the batteries, then carefully clean them by hand.

MORE: Check out other How-To posts on Techland

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