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Working from home: How to keep your space clean according to a hygiene expert

From keyboards to screens and your phone, they're all hotbeds for germs

Louise Whitbread
Tuesday 21 July 2020 09:39 BST
Daily cleaning of surfaces, keyboards and screens is recommended, especially if you're sharing it with others in your household
Daily cleaning of surfaces, keyboards and screens is recommended, especially if you're sharing it with others in your household (iStock)

As lockdown eases and plans to socialise with family and friends at newly opened pubs and restaurants become more frequent, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to keep the spaces you inhabit clean.

When out and about it’s strongly advised by the World Health Organisation and the UK government to use hand sanitiser (fwe've rounded up ones you can buy online here) along with face coverings which are already mandatory on public transport, and from 24 July, in shops and supermarkets.

But when you’re at home, there are also measures you can take to minimise any risk of transmission from contaminated surfaces.

A news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that: “Based on data from lab studies on Covid-19 and what we know about similar respiratory diseases, it may be possible that a person can get Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes."

While this isn’t the main way for the virus to spread, it is still important to maintain high standards of hygiene.

As you may go to busier spaces such as the pub, and while a large proportion of the nation continues to work from home, keeping your laptops, keyboards, desks and work chairs clean is essential, particularly if you might be sharing it with others in your household.

“Sitting at home is fairly risk-free when it comes to catching diseases, and if you are the only person in the house, then by washing your hands when you come in, and after handling parcels, then you have closed the door on any virus or other infectious diseases,” says Dr Lisa Ackerley, aka The Hygiene Doctor.

“However if you have others in your home, or they use your work-space then you may want to think about the cleanliness of your work desk a bit more and clean and disinfect more frequently.”

To make it feel less of a chore, we've got the tips and cleaning products you need to ensure your space is as hygienic as possible.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.


The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces daily in common household areas, which include; doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks.

Therefore, we’d recommend keeping your cleaning products nearby in a drawer for easy access and to make it a habitual daily routine.

On its website, it says: “Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.”

According to Ackerley, if your desk is made from wood and you are the only user, regularly give it a polish. If it needs a deeper clean, use an antimicrobial spray or wipe.

For an easy all-rounder, try Method which has multi-surface cleaning sprays (Method, £3) in pleasant scents such as lavender or passion fruit.

A daily spray and wipe with this surface cleanser will keep germs at bay (Method) (iStock)

All you need is a clean dry cloth to wipe down glass, wood, stone, tile and worktops.

If you’re conscious of waste and want an eco-friendly alternative, try the Bower Collective bio-d all-purpose sanitiser spray refill (Bower Collective, £4) in a reusable spray bottle (Bower Collective, £3.99)

To minimise waste, try using eco-friendly refillable cleaning products (Bower Collective)

They’re housed in recyclable plastic that once finished can be posted back to the brand using the pre-paid postage return box, which is then sterilised and put back into distribution.

In our guide to the best natural cleaning products, we were also impressed with these Ecover multi-action wipes (Britmarine, £2.29) that are single-use but completely biodegradable.

Not all wipes are made equal, these are biodegradable alternatives (Britmarine)

We found they worked well if you didn't have time for a deep clean but wanted to quickly wipe down surfaces.

“If you eat at your desk, and drop crumbs and food all over your keyboard, and get your desk and mouse dirty from food debris then you need to clean more than someone who only uses their work station with clean hands!” says Ackerley.

Keyboards and computers

When cleaning keyboards and computers, Ackerley advises turning the keyboard upside down and gently tapping to remove crumbs, then use antimicrobial wipes on switched off equipment.

“They don’t get the surface too wet and often have very good cleaning properties as well as killing bacteria and viruses,” she explains, recommending Dettol surface cleanser wipes (Tesco, £2).

Antibacterial wipes will keep surfaces, keyboards and laptops clean without making them too wet (Dettol)

Avoid ones with bleach on your computer equipment to avoid damage and for a screen, use a specific screen wipe.

Try these 24 antibacterial screen wipes (Lakeland, £3.49) which are anti-static and won’t leave behind smeared prints once you’re done with them.

These wipes won't leave any smear marks once you've used them on computer screens (Lakeland)

While not particularly environmentally-friendly, each wipe is packaged individually, which is ideal if you’re bringing your laptop on a staycation.

Vacuum cleaner

Ackerley recommends regularly vacuuming floors if you get a build-up of dust. “Mop if it’s a hard surface to pick up dust, and use antimicrobial wipes on a spray and paper towel on high-frequency touch areas such as door handles,” she says.

Our favourite steam cleaner to mop floors with is the Morphy Richards 9-in-1 steam cleaner (Argos, £69.99).

Keep surfaces looking immaculate with a powerful steam cleaner (The Independent)

It's a user-friendly machine that has an upright unit for floors and a detachable handheld device for the likes of bathroom taps, grouting and glass, so you can get into those nitty, gritty areas.

We found the brushes and jet nozzle particularly useful. It zooms around in no time and although we’ve seen bigger water tanks, you still get an impressive 15 minutes of steam.

In our guide to the best cordless vacuum cleaners, the Dyson V11 absolute (Dyson, £599) took away the top spot for making hoovering hassle-free.

Forget having to lug bulky vacuum in and out of the cupboard and instead use a cordless style instead (The Independent)

It has powerful suction and airflow, which means it needs less battery power, and on its minimum setting you’ll be able to get 60 minutes of use out of it.

It only takes three and a half hours to charge and the head can detect what floor is beneath it to adjust the motor and battery to give you the best deep-clean.

Our reviewers said: “It’s lightweight, reaches into corners and is easy to push and empty. It’s expensive, but it’s the only vacuum cleaner you’ll need.”

Akerley adds: “If you take shoes off at the front door, that helps to keep dirt levels down in the whole house."

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