Coronavirus | The yeas and nays of working from home

How to keep your gadgets clean while working from home

A woman cleaning her tablet screen

A woman cleaning her tablet screen   | Photo Credit: by arrangement

MetroPlus speaks to experts about which chemical agents are safe for gadgets and how to avoid physical clutter in your space

With many people working from home for the first time, your home starts to feel like a bubble of safety, the walls and shut windows a barrier against who-knows-what. But there is a Trojan horse, so to speak, bringing in some worrisome unknown bodies about which we should be vigilant.

Speaking with MetroPlus, Ashok Nair, Lenovo’s director for India Service Operations, gives a step-by-step breakdown of how to keep each gadget in the home as clean as possible.

Children and safety
  • Working from home for most families means the children will be making the most of the surrounding gadgets. Dr Anuradha Vinod, consultant paediatrician at Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, explains, “We usually don’t encourage screen time at all. At times like these, it could be unavoidable. But we can limit screen time to one or two hours. And, it is actually not necessary to engage them with a tablet or a phone all the time. It is actually a good time to bond with family and also enhance their creativity. It is risky for parents to give their phones to children, especially for those who have to head out every day. All kinds of viruses can spread through the phone since children hold it against their faces. We are also asking parents to make sure children are washing their hands before every meal and snack. They should take a shower first thing in the morning.”
  • Input from Praveen Sudevan

Before proceeding with a deep clean, it is recommended that you remove any media from the drives and turn off all connected devices and the computer. Then, disconnect all power sources such as batteries or power cords from electrical outlets and disconnect all cables that are connected to the computer, to avoid unpleasant shocks.

Before diving into the dirt, it is important that you do not engage in panic-buying, seeing these ingredients. Most of these are used in minute amounts. He states that it is safe to use a disinfecting wipe designed for office/home use and that “some disinfecting wipes designed for medical use may cause discolouration, harm surfaces, or even affect functionality of your device.”

Ashok further elaborates, “Medical wipes and their chemical composition vary greatly. Depending on the chemicals, frequency, and duration of use, medical wipes may impact cosmetic appearance and system functionality. To minimise this risk, we recommend hydrogen peroxide wipes (such as Virox Accel wipes with a maximum of 0.5% hydrogen peroxide), and alcohol-based wipes (such as PDI Germicidal or B Braun Meliseptol Wipes sensitive). Do not use wipes containing sodium hypochlorite (bleach). We also recommend wiping away residual solvent as soon as possible after the prescribed contact time and wiping the surface again with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.”

He also repeats that one should always squeeze out excess liquid from wipe or disinfecting cloth before using. “Gently wipe the system thoroughly, being careful to ensure no liquid drips into the computer. Do not wipe on connector pins. After disinfecting, follow the cleaning procedure from the wipe supplier to minimise chemical build-up of disinfectant residue (i.e. wiping away any residual disinfectant after the prescribed contact time). Always allow the computer to completely dry prior to any use.”

Screens galore

A man surrounded by the numerous gadgets he has

A man surrounded by the numerous gadgets he has   | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Keyboards are a major carrier of bacteria as mentioned by numerous studies over the past 15 years, including 2018’s ‘Degree of Bacterial Contamination of Mobile Phone and Computer Keyboard Surfaces…’ by Jana Koscova et al. “Species of the genus Bacillus and representatives of the family Enterobacteriaceae (which cause systemic inflammatory and vasodilatory responses) were abundant. The potentially pathogenic species were represented by Staphylococcus aureus (often cause skin infections but can cause pneumonia, heart valve infections, and bone infections). Cultivation of swabs performed five minutes after disinfection and subsequent calculation of the reduction of contamination have shown that simple wiping with antibacterial wet wipe led to a significant reduction of microbial contamination of surfaces, with effect ranging from 36.8 to 100%,” says the study.

We recommend you to give your keyboard a clean wipe everyday before you use it and every five hours while using. Ashok says “Absorb some isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free, soft cloth, then squeeze out excess liquid from the cloth. Wipe the keyboard surface with the cloth, making sure no liquid drips on or between the keys. Allow to dry,” he explains. However, it is vital that liquid cleaner is never sprayed or poured directly on the LCD display or the keyboard. One can use compressed air from a can to remove any crumbs and dust from beneath the keys. Also, do not use an air compressor, he adds.

Most notebooks these days have a touchscreen component. Using a dry, lint-free, soft cloth, wipe or dust the stain gently, he starts. “If a stain, smudge, or other blemish remains, moisten a lint-free, soft cloth with water or a 50-50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (distilled or deionised). Wring out as much of the liquid as you can from the cloth. Wipe the display again; do not let any liquid drip into the computer. Allow the display to dry, then close the lid if the computer has one.”

And the space...

Gayatri Gandhi of JoyFactory.in

Gayatri Gandhi of JoyFactory.in  

It is not just the chemical grime, but also the physical clutter. Gurugram-based Gayatri Gandhi of JoyFactory.in is India’s first KonMari-certified consultant, and she points out, “Most of the gadgets that get accumulated are the old and outdated devices that continue being stored with a thought that ‘it may come handy’ later. Also, old wires, cords and chargers form a major part of these gadgets. The best approach has been to thank and get rid of them because they will never be used as much as we think they will be! The other times when people are unwilling to let go, I give them a three-month period to see if they end up using it, and if they don’t, then I strictly guide them to give it away.”

Self-discipline is key, she adds. “It is not easy to work from home because of the number of distractions one has, this often leads to clutter, whether on your desk or generally across the home. Another practical aspect that one can follow during times like these is to make sure each item in the house has a home, a resting place that becomes its own. The important aspect of organising is to return the item to its home when the task is completed.” Gayatri adds that she is engaging in virtual consultations for those working from home too.

There is a lot that goes into keeping the home clean, Coronavirus or not, and it is encouraged these habits are maintained throughout our relationship with technology. Be sure to keep hand sanitiser at the ready and do avoid touching your face and eating between using gadgets. If you have the amenities to use earbuds or earphones to take calls, opt for those to keep mobile phones away from your face. And, of course, wash your hands.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:21:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/how-to-keep-your-gadgets-clean-while-working-from-home/article31149774.ece

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