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What Is the Best Way To Disinfect Your Laptop? 545

Posted by timothy
from the use-a-nice-strong-antivirus dept.
akutz writes "I've had the flu since Tuesday afternoon. My wife picked me up from work with a temperature of 103.6 and it finally broke at 98.7 around 3am this morning. Yay. The problem is that I used my laptop during my periods of feverish deliriousness, contaminating my shiny 15" MacBook Pro with the icky influenza virus. I am asking my fellow Slashdotters if they have ever sought out a good way of disinfecting their lucky laptops after an illness. Do you use soap? A light acid bath? Just get the family dog to lick it until it looks clean?"
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What Is the Best Way To Disinfect Your Laptop?

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  • by Linuss (1305295) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @07:58PM (#24052891) Journal
    i'd totally mod you +5 funny if i could, thanks for making the office a little more fun for 30 seconds.
  • by isomeme (177414) <> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:02PM (#24052941) Homepage Journal
    If you've already had a given strain of the flu, you generally won't catch it again; your immune system is primed against that virus. So the laptop is little danger to you. Your immediate family probably got exposed through a thousand other shared items, so the laptop isn't making things noticeably worse for them, either. In short, I wouldn't worry about it.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:07PM (#24052993)

    I'm no biologist but, casting my mind back to riveting documentaries on the BBC...

    Your body comes in contact with a new strain of a virus that it has no defense against. The virus moves in. The virus multiplies. Your body figures out how to fight it. Much of your feeling like crap is the process of your body fighting it.

    If you get re-exposed in any kind of a short time frame, your body already knows how to produce the antibodies and doesn't get reinfected.

    The reason you'll pick up multiple colds during a winter is because you're getting hit by multiple strains.

    If re-exposure to the exact same strain was an issue, you'd have to burn your house down every time you got sick. Instead, the things you've come in to contact with are no risk to you, just to others who may not have immunity to that strain yet.

    That being the case... Get over yourself, stop being a germophobe, use your laptop just fine.

    If other people are using your laptop, they may have something to worry about. You're totally fine.

    As for you using other people's stuff and being a raging germophobe, you can use sterilizing hand lotions after every usage... and you too can become one of the idiotic generation that try so hard to avoid any exposure that all they really achieve is having no built up immunity when things do get through.

    Man up, get over your phobia, accept that getting sick is a normal part of building a tougher immune system, and get on with living.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:10PM (#24053027) Homepage
    If you're the only one using it, why disinfect it? You did say you're over the cold, right? It isn't going absorb EM fields from the laptop and mutate there by making it immune to your immune system. Maybe less disinfectants would actually be a good idea in your case. Aside from what you get from your mother, your body needs to learn itself.
  • by kd4zqe (587495) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:11PM (#24053035)
    Just about anything plastic-safe could be used such as a Lysol cleaner or diluted Dial liquid soap, but keep in mind that if you're the only one using it, you can't get sick from the same Influenza virus twice. Even if you get the Flu twice in a season, it's 2 strains that infected you. I'd only be concerned about the actual contact surfaces (KB, touchpad, mouse), and if you've got too much of the OCD, I'd suggest looking into something like the Virtually Indestructible Keyboard with integrated Mousing Stick []. It is completely submersible in disinfecting solution up to the point that the cord joins the keyboard. Then I'd wrap the laptop in saran wrap except for the cooling vents. A little overboard, but probably effective.
  • by Daengbo (523424) <> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:12PM (#24053045) Homepage Journal
    Even if they live a while, Timothy has already had this strain and is likely immune, no?
  • by coldandcalculating (1311907) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:18PM (#24053131)
    It's true. Flu strains sweep through as much of the human population as they can and then are forced to change by swapping out components with other strains in vivo.

    Most influenza strains are classified by their own particular version of hemagluttanin and neuraminidase proteins in the fashion of H#N#, where # is the variant of each protein. Hence the naming of the H5N1 bird flu. Every year, a few lucky flu strains will simultaneously infect a host and, in cells, swap the genes necessary for encoding H and N. If one or more of the new combinations is able to stand up to the immune systems of hosts who have already developed an immunity to the flu in previous years, it will again start its march through the population (which will hopefully develop a new immunity after exposure) and the cycle will continue.

    The only reason you should worry about disinfecting your laptop is if you plan on taking it to the jungles of the amazon where the people perhaps are more susceptible to old world flus. In that case, my two cents goes to spraying lightly with pure alcohol and letting it sit in the sun for a few minutes.
  • by waa (159514) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:19PM (#24053155) Homepage

    No offence to people who are actually retarded, but;

    Are you retarded?

    and as a follow up question to slashdot editors:

    Are YOU retarded?

    Worst. "Ask Slashdot." EVAR...


  • by spineboy (22918) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:23PM (#24053191) Journal

    You are typically contagious before you feel sick. The feeling sick part usually happens AFTER your body has begun to mount an immune response, the sick feeling being all the cytokines and such, being released and their effect on the body.

    Besides that - you've alreay "caught" it, and are no longer susceptible to that strain. Your other members of the household might still catch it though. And, yes, generally the bugs/viruses don't stay "live" that long outside the body. Most are dead within 72 hours or so.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:33PM (#24053299)

    I'd be wary. In the current terror craze, you might get arrested for trying to wipe out the airport personnel with biological weapons.

  • OCD much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dieppe (668614) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:50PM (#24053455) Homepage

    I say get a freakin' life and don't worry about germs so much. If you've already had it, the germs on your laptop aren't going to re-infect you. (You're immune to that strain.) Also, germs only live so long on surfaces...

    For cripes sake you might want to look into getting your OCD and germ phobia looked into though. :)

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Thursday July 03, 2008 @08:56PM (#24053513) Homepage Journal

    Maybe his wife has HIV or full blown AIDs?

    Then he's still retarded for asking Slashdot for medical advice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:21PM (#24054197)

    If he was "sick", his immune system was fighting it off.

    I never understood many of the habits of the germaphobe people. Many of the precautions they take do nothing in terms of preventing germs and virus spreads and even less to control he ones that can make you sick. Look what oversubscribing various antibiotics have done and the tests done with ear infections in kids. The same thing happens with your own made up at home precautions. You end wiping out the harmless ones and leave the immune one to thrive.

    I say let nature take its course and build up a heathly immune system. If you do get sick and you can not limit the bad effects with regular pain drugs, take antibiotics as required. Taking antibiotics for a harmless but painful ear infection limits what the future antibiotics can do for an infection that is not harmless or when you are older and need some additional help fighting off things.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:32PM (#24054269)

    It's kind of a sad day and age when this gets modded insightful. Don't you agree? Nothing against the poster - its a reflection of society these days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2008 @10:35PM (#24054293)

    Have you had a nasty flu recently?
    It is a horrible experience.
    It is absolutely worth a couple of hours of work to reduce the probability that you will infect someone else.

    It is not 'germophobia' to try to eradicate a virus you know is there. A strain of virus which you know can infect people and cause significant suffering.

    Oh, and to the "but you're immune now" sociopaths: seek help.

  • Re:Lysol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by badasscat (563442) <> on Thursday July 03, 2008 @11:09PM (#24054529)

    Or use disinfecting wipes, which are made specifically for this purpose.

    Doesn't anybody watch TV ads anymore??

    Seriously, though, this is like asking "my windows are really dirty, is there any product out there that can clean them??"

  • Re:Windex (Score:2, Insightful)

    by danwat1234 (942579) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:36AM (#24055105) Journal
    If you have any zits or rashes on your skin, be sure to use your time wisely and spray windex on the sore to aid in quick healing.
  • No need to worry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:03AM (#24055849)

    You are now pretty much immune to that version of the flu (you got well so your immune system knows and can beat it).

    So your laptop is only dangerous to others.

    UV light is probably your best best. A day in direct sunlight would probably do it without hurting the laptop.

  • let it be (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mapleneckblues (1145545) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:10AM (#24055899)
    I never clean my laptop. Helps me build up my resistance. Sure you may get sick in the beginning but you only get stronger as time passes.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday July 04, 2008 @05:30AM (#24056627)

    Personally, I'd prefer this comment to be funny rather than insightful.

    What's really sad is that I don't wonder "wtf?" but rather sit here and nod my head. The terror craze has gone too far.

  • by jonadab (583620) on Friday July 04, 2008 @09:36AM (#24058091) Homepage Journal
    I'd just place it (open) in a well-ventilated area for a few hours and let it go at that.

    Influenza doesn't *do* anything unless it's in a host. By itself, on its own, without a host, it's completely innocuous. You've already had this strain of it, so it won't infect you. What exactly are you worried about?
  • Re:UV light (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 04, 2008 @10:10AM (#24058351) Journal

    Has she gotten ill from the laptop yet? No? Then what's the problem? Sounds like you're just a neat freak.

  • by WNight (23683) on Friday July 04, 2008 @12:46PM (#24059801) Homepage

    People keep saying this, as if the non-Mac users have never seen one and have no idea how a computer would work without razor blades and Clockwork-Orange-esque eye clamps. At some point, bouncy animated icons stop "helping".

    Change the termcap in the console. Make iTunes show you my music library (ogg vorbis) over the network, integrated with yours. Buy music for me and copy an unencrypted song to my SD card, without having to burn/rip it first. Make a bootable CD with memtest86 on it.

    Do those "just work"?

    Enjoy your Mac, but try to understand that, many... of our computers "just work" too.

  • Re:Lysol (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imipak (254310) on Friday July 04, 2008 @03:25PM (#24061081) Journal
    Hygiene? What the hell planet are you on? I bet you're the sort of person that wears latex gloves when gardening. Guess what, exposure to normal environmental pathogens is not only 99.99999% harmless, it's actually GOOD for you. You have this thing called an immune system, see, and it needs to know what Bad Stuff looks like...

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.