Canned Air Alternatives

Multnomah County has been seeking alternatives to our most toxic practices since signing on to the Toxics Reduction Strategy in 2004. In line with the county’s Climate Action Plan, the County is eliminating the use of canned air for cleaning computer keyboards. Canned air is one of the most toxic products used at the county, both in terms of its greenhouse gas emissions and its impacts on health.

The Library Environmental Team (LET) has piloted a number of alternatives to canned air for cleaning computer keyboards and has come to the following conclusions:

  • Flipping and tapping:  Sometimes the simplest options are the most effective! This technique removes a lot of dust and debris from inside of the keyboards; it is most effective when used in combination with one of the other alternatives.
  • Brushes:  Brushes can successfully access the “hard to reach” bits of crumbs and dust bunnies; this has been proven better at removing substances from the keyboard than blowing air or tapping.
  • Squeeze bulbs:  These are good for personal use cleaning of computer keyboards, and can be used for cleaning out internal components (this should only be done by IT staff).
  • A word about vacuums:  The LET tried a few USB vacuums, but concluded that they were too weak to effectively clean out keyboards (the other alternatives did a better job).  A more powerful vacuum with special attachments does work well, but it is an expensive option. Vacuums, not forced air is what Dell recommends for keyboard cleaning. However, unless you have a vacuum at your location already, and you can locate the special “crevice tool” for the model you have, this will not likely be an available option.

See Multco Marketplace for the following items:

M20725004, Keyboard & LCD Cleaning System w/ Brush