New generation of electronic cleaning products

February 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
How dirty is the TV remote in your hand, or the keyboard on your lap? They are dirty enough to be a health hazard, according to a growing field of cleaning companies.

"Is your keyboard a germ jungle?" asks the commercial.

Suddenly it seems that everyone is trying to gross you out with your own electronics.

One consumer group reported that 1 in 10 of us have never cleaned our keyboard. And women have dirtier mice than men, because they eat at the desk more often.

The most popular method to floss for food particles seems to be a gel sometimes blue, sometimes yellow. We tried them all, but found that while they might be great at scooping detritus, they don't work well on stains.

"It's not a solvent," a Cyber Clean representative told us. "It removes the loose stuff."

Another company, Veriulux, sells an ultraviolet wand that skips the detritus and is designed just to kill germs. But medical experts point out to us that our skin is already a darned good barrier against bugs on rodents.

There is some evidence that keyboards in hospitals can help spread staff infections, and one study in England showed a greater variety of microbes on a keyboard than on a toilet seat. But before you get too excited, consider the larger problem of doorknobs and telephones that lots of different people use.

So, companies with names like Muc-Off cast suspicions on cell phones too, and game controllers. And that remote for your TV, you don't know where that's been, or do you?