Consumer Electronics Show Likes it Dirty

While clean machines weren’t the stars of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, sanitation was on the minds of attendees.  A healthy hand-washing isn’t enough, say geeks, when it comes to staying germ-free at trade shows.

140 000 germ-ridden nerds collected in Las Vegas to peruse the cutting edge of electro-products, with audio, digital imaging, gaming, home theatre, wireless and networking products stimulating ultra-nerd radar at every opportunity.  Wireless doesn’t mean germless, however, and show goers often put their playful yet dirty digits to work on the electronics without a care for cleanliness.

Geek hands are busy fondling the products; an activity which has urged some attendees to incorporate on-the-spot sanitizer and even rubber gloves into their electronic-friendly wardrobe. These dweebs may have the right idea, as research shows that electronics like phones, computer keyboards, mice and desktops are normally dirtier than your toilet seat. The reason? Toilets get cleaned a lot…and electronics don’t, leaving 10,000 to 100,000 bacteria per square inch on your precious computer parts.

Gimme Some Skin

The dirty business originates on your skin, which carries around bacteria from everything you touched. If you’ve kept your hands clean (literally and figuratively) at the office, then why are your office equipment friends covered in bacteria? While almost all adults claim to be hand-washers, only around 75% of adults wash well enough to de-germify. Covered in all kinds of bodily fluids and unknown substances, your soiled hands are ready to shake hands with the dirty devil lurking inside your desktop electronics.  Your computer mouse, for example, has 690 colony forming units of bacteria per 10 sq cm, placing it in second behind shopping carts in a study of the grimiest commonly touched items out there.

Since around 80% of human infection comes from our environment, managers may reconsider introducing new germ-prone electronics into the office environment.  Practically speaking, however, it’s impossible for most workplaces to operate without phones and computers.  A number of germaphobic internet users claim that self-cleaning office equipment is near, citing tweezers and disinfecting laser beams as the destroyers of workplace dinginess. While these ideas are for the most part ahead of technology, the trend of cubical cleanliness may result in a new era of cleansing. 

Thinking of taking your telephone for a rubba-dub-dub in the office washroom? Maybe an easier solution is to speak to your resident Consumer Electronics Show-attending office geek. But remember, considering the other well known uses of the rubber glove, maybe get your own pair.

Shane Kirshenblatt/Happy Worker
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