How to Disinfect an Apple Keyboard, Trackpad, and Mouse

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Computer keyboards and input devices can be hotbeds of bacteria, especially if they're used by several people - in a school or office environment, for example.


Regularly disinfecting your Apple keyboard, trackpad, and/or mouse is the best way to sterilize these devices and remove any nasties, and it only takes five minutes to do. Keep reading to learn how.

To follow the steps below, you'll need some bleach-free disinfectant wipes - Apple specifically recommends Lysol Wipes for the job.
  1. Before you do anything else, shut down your Mac and unplug the power adapter.
  2. Take one of the wipes and squeeze it to remove any excess dampness, then gently clean your Mac's trackpad, keyboard, and/or mouse. Keep your pressure light to prevent any excess liquid from escaping onto the surfaces.
  3. Next, use a water-dampened microfiber or lint-free cloth and wipe the areas again.
  4. Take a dry microfiber or lint-free cloth and wipe over the keyboard and trackpad one last time.
Apple has a support document that includes some important "don'ts" when it comes to disinfecting keyboards, trackpads, and mice, so it's worth reiterating them here:
  • Do not use disinfectant wipes containing bleach or disinfectant sprays in general.
  • Do not use an extremely damp disinfectant wipe to clean the area. If you encounter a very damp wipe it may need to be squeezed to remove some of the excess liquid before use.
  • Do not allow the liquid from the disinfectant wipe to sit or pool on the area being disinfected for a long amount of time.
  • Do not use rough towels or cloths to dry the area.
  • Do not use excess force when disinfecting the area around the keyboard; this could damage the keys.
If you're a regular traveler, it's worth picking up something like iKlear iPod Cleaning Kit For All Apple Products. The compact kit costs $19.92 and includes a 1-2 ounce spray bottle and several travel-size antimicrobial polishing cloths.

Article Link: How to Disinfect an Apple Keyboard, Trackpad, and Mouse
 
Last edited:

smirking

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,623
2,270
Silicon Valley
Here's a study on how long different viruses can survive on various surfaces:

None of the viruses studied are the current CoV-19 virus, but the virus that caused SARS is a close cousin of it and it's able to survive up to 5 days at room temperature. However, that was at a certain concentration and I have no idea what the concentrations listed in the chart linked to above correlate with real world conditions.

Anyone out there with a microbiology degree able to help decipher this chart? A viral titer concentration of 10^5 of the SARS-CoV(1) virus survives 4 days on plastic at room temperatures. What does that mean in plain English?
 

blackcrayon

macrumors 68020
Mar 10, 2003
2,013
1,507
The article on lysol wipes is 'no longer updated by apple' https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201294

And the one on cleaning says to avoid using 'household cleaners' on almost everything - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204172

So short of an expensive UV sanitizer, we're stuck with carrying petri dishes in our pockets.
I've used paper towels with 91% alcohol on my iOS devices for years. Never noticed any damage, though maybe it does something to the "oleophobic coating". I've never seen a definitive answer or noticed any difference though. I've also never seen it damage plastics on other devices (such as key surfaces or the magic trackpad 2), but it leaves (non permanent) streaks on aluminum.
 

redbeard331

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2009
758
250
This should just be basic everyday normalcy when using public systems.

I cringe every time I notice someone walk right past me and the sinks in a restroom after they’ve wiggled the willy. Right to the door handle and beyond....
How about when you’re in there washing your hands and you hear someone in a stall pooping their guts out and then they flush and walk past you and out the door? I don’t expect those people to ever start washing their hands for any reason.
 

H3LL5P4WN

macrumors 68030
Jun 19, 2010
2,529
2,755
Pittsburgh PA
How about when you’re in there washing your hands and you hear someone in a stall pooping their guts out and then they flush and walk past you and out the door? I don’t expect those people to ever start washing their hands for any reason.
I like to hope that when I yell "THANKS FOR WASHING YOUR HANDS, <name if you know it>!" at them, especially if it's in public, that maybe they will next time.
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
18,136
1,449
5045 feet above sea level
I used disinfectant wipes on a magic keyboard. It made the keyboard inoperable. Some of the liquid must have gotten under the keys and wrecked havoc.

I personally would not take that chance again to ruin a 100 dollar keyboard

I definitely would not do this on a laptop keyboard
 

creativet

macrumors member
Nov 1, 2012
40
2
Toronto, ON
Just a quick heads up - Lysol wipes do not kill the Flu (Rhino) Virus or cold virus. I discovered this a few days ago to my surprise. Now I quickly and gingerly use Clorox wipes as they do kill those viruses and I will follow up using disposable gloves. I also quickly follow up with a dry wipe. I only do this at school, as I use 4 college computers once a day shared by many.
 

Joniz

macrumors 6502
Sep 21, 2017
272
647
Just a quick heads up - Lysol wipes do not kill the Flu (Rhino) Virus or cold virus. I discovered this a few days ago to my surprise. Now I quickly and gingerly use Clorox wipes as they do kill those viruses and I will follow up using disposable gloves. I also quickly follow up with a dry wipe. I only do this at school, as I use 4 college computers once a day shared by many.
I might be wrong, but I believe Clorox wipes contain bleach, will break down plastics at an outstanding rate.
 
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Joniz

macrumors 6502
Sep 21, 2017
272
647
I use one of these UV sanitizers. https://www.phonesoap.com/products/homesoap

I can have my 13" MacBook Pro partially opened so the light hits the keys, trackpad and screen.

Love it!
Um, about that….

I used to work in a clean environment in a biotech and we used laminar flow cabinets with built-in UV to sterilize the inside when not in use. I used to love taking the nalgene beakers, which could stand up to just about anything, and crush them easily with one hand once the UV had its way with them. Of course, that was some industrial strength lighting we had there, so maybe it’s not enough in these products to do any real damage over time. Or maybe it can.

Only thing I can add is that there are a lot of wrinkly, tanned old-looking people living in Florida for a reason.
 
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ignatius345

macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
2,502
3,364
I've used paper towels with 91% alcohol on my iOS devices for years. Never noticed any damage, though maybe it does something to the "oleophobic coating". I've never seen a definitive answer or noticed any difference though. I've also never seen it damage plastics on other devices (such as key surfaces or the magic trackpad 2), but it leaves (non permanent) streaks on aluminum.
Paper towels are notoriously abrasive. You might consider a microfiber cloth to apply that alcohol...
 

Unity451

macrumors 6502
Aug 29, 2011
456
1,861
California
Side note, I went to an Apple Store yesterday and all the employees were wearing gloves. This should be required at all businesses.
Wearing gloves doesn't stop the transmission of pathogens... It only makes the wearer think it does and therefore causes them to be less aware of what they're touching and reduce the number of times they actually wash their hands. This is especially true in food service. People think because they wear gloves they can do a weak job of washing their hands and then proceed to touch money, tables, handles, trash cans, cutting boards, food items, etc. in the kitchen without ever rewashing. My favorite move is when the glove wearer touches all over the outside of the gloves while he's putting them on, and assumes because he's wearing gloves he's ok. ?‍
 

H.E. Pennypacker

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2017
371
881
NYC
Has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe killing germs isn’t always a good thing? That’s how your body naturally builds immunity. I’m not saying being cautious during flu season isn’t good practice. I wash my hands after normal “duties” and such but come on, wiping down keyboards every day, wearing gloves? Give me a break. I rarely get sick and when I do it’s for short spans.
 
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Tork

macrumors regular
Oct 14, 2006
211
122
I've used paper towels with 91% alcohol on my iOS devices for years. Never noticed any damage, though maybe it does something to the "oleophobic coating". I've never seen a definitive answer or noticed any difference though. I've also never seen it damage plastics on other devices (such as key surfaces or the magic trackpad 2), but it leaves (non permanent) streaks on aluminum.
You may want to consider using 70% alcohol instead. Interestingly, higher concentrations of alcohol (especially 90%+) evaporate too quickly to disinfect well and 70% is nearly optimal!
 
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