How to clean a home office: 11 fast cleaning hacks

Whether you have a designated home office, or are working from the kitchen table, here's how to keep your work space clean

Rattan chair under white desk with computer on
(Image credit: Furniture choice)

Want to know how to clean a home office? More of us are working from home at the moment, with employers, and the government, encouraging anyone who can to work remotely in a bid to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

And aside from the fact that we should all be keeping on top of our cleaning at the moment, keeping your workspace decluttered can help boost productivity. In this guide to cleaning a home office, we take you through everything from cleaning a phone to the desk – and even highlight a few gross-out germ-growing havens you might not have thought about. You're welcome.

Check out our home office ideas if you need new inspiration for your space.

1. How to clean a home office desk

Your desk – at least at some point in the day – is probably home not just to your computer, keyboard, phone and all sorts of home office accessories and paperwork, but to your coffee cup and possibly your lunch, too. 

That means it will need regular deep cleaning to keep it not just tidy but hygienic, too (we’ve heard rumours that a desk is about 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat. Yuk). Here are our top tips:

  • Clearing it as much as possible, wipe it over with a dampened cloth and an anti-bacterial spray. You can use a shop bought cleaning product or simply use a combination of one part water and one part white vinegar, which is effective at getting rid of household germs (use our guide to find more germ-killing solutions). 
  • If yours is a hard wood desk that’s been damaged by marks here or there, take a clean tennis ball and rub it over them. If that doesn’t do the trick, take a little bicarbonate of soda and apply it with a damp cloth, gently rubbing. Rinse with damp kitchen roll and dry.
  • Water rings from slopped tea left behind on a wooden desk may be able to be removed with a hair dryer. Simply turn it on high, aim it at the rings and watch it disappear. If it doesn’t, try to rub mayonnaise on it. 

Victorian cottage slow living scandi home office

(Image credit: Future)

2. Organise a home office desk to stay clutter-free

Now’s the time to make like Marie Kondo and adopt her KonMari method to declutter your desk. Of course, it’s unlikely that the piles of paperwork will spark joy, but it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes every Friday afternoon (or Monday morning if you can’t face a Friday) to sort through the pile, file away what you don’t need and make a priority list for the week ahead. 

If you don’t have good home office accessories, such as filing trays, files, pen holders, nip to the shops now (or better still, stay in and order online) to help keep your desk organised. Tidy desk, tidy mind and all that...

3. Don’t eat at your desk

We know, we know… it’s easy – especially if you work from home – to catch up with a quick bit of admin/surfing YouTube while you eat your lunch. But food is a big problem, especially if it’s anywhere near your keyboard, because it contributes to those household germs and, of course, it leaves a smell behind.

4. How to clean a home office chair

Your office chair is likely to suffer all the indignities of your desk, but if it’s upholstered in fabric, it’s likely to be a) more stained and b) harder to clean. 

To clean a home office chair fast, start by removing the dust that gets into your chair’s cavities – a small vacuum cleaner or a handheld vacuum cleaner (browse our useful buyer’s guides for both) will get rid of not just dust but food particles, hair and muck, too. You can also use a damp cloth or damp rubber gloves to sponge off dust and hair. Aim to do this once every couple of weeks, and if you use an upholstery cleaner spray once a year, you’ll find the chair’s better protect from dust and dirt all year round. 

Using an upholstery cleaner and a clean, lint-free cloth, work at each stain, following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Pay particular attention to the seat and arm rests. 

5. How to clean a keyboard

Look into yours… go on. What can you see? Dust, hair, last week’s crab sandwich. Yup, it all ends up in there, making it a germ-laden hot house. Here's how to clean your keyboard in minutes:

1. If your keyboard is wired, start by disconnecting it from your computer. If it's built-into your laptop, ensure it's shut down before you get started.

2. Start by holding your keyboard upside down in a bid to encourage any crumbs, or bits of debris, to fall away.

3. Use a can of compressed air, or the duster attachment on your vacuum, to blast any bits of leftover debris away.

4. Take a sustainable cotton bud, or twist up a piece of kitchen roll, and dip lightly into isopropyl alcohol. Gently work your way around each of the edges of your keys. Remember that liquids and electrics don't tend to be friends, so you want to avoid getting your keyboard too wet.

5. Next, take a microfibre cloth and gently dip it in your isopropyl alcohol. Gently wipe each of your keys.

Our advice for future? Only drink your tea or coffee from a lidded travel mug when you’re at your desk. It’ll protect your keyboard and your paperwork, too.

6. How to clean a home office computer screen

Your computer screen probably has everything from the odd fingerprint (tut, tut, shouldn’t touch it) to the contents of a surprise sneeze (sorry, we went there, but you know it’s true). 

Cleaning a home office computer screen should be done really, really careful if you’re to avoid damaging it. Mix a solution of one part filtered or distilled water, one part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle, then spray it on to a clean, soft microfibre cloth (screens are scratch-sensitive and even kitchen roll could damage them; similarly, the minerals in tap water could leave deposits, hence the use of the word ‘distilled’). Don’t spray the solution directly on to the screen.

Turn off the screen, then wipe the cloth in small circular motions over the screen. Do not apply pressure. Repeat, this time using a cloth for cleaning glasses. 

You can, of course, use specific computer screen cleaning wipes and cloths, too.

Allow the screen to dry completely before turning it back on.

Home office with open shelving and simple white desk with drawers

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

7. How to clean a phone

Just like your keyboard, your phone will be covered with all kinds of muck, from fingerprints to… well, do you ever take your phone into the loo with you? Enough said. Aaaanyway, you can use a lint-free or microfibre cloth to clean it (you should have been given one along with the phone when it was new). That’ll keep it free of smudges. But for a freshening, germ-ridding clean, use exactly the same approach as for cleaning a computer screen. 

Remember that many phone manufacturers don’t recommend using any cleaning products on their phones, so do so a) at your own risk and b) with the utmost care. The phone should be off and any cleaning solutions applied to your phone should be applied with a cloth that’s barely-damp with them. Ensure it’s fully dry before switching your phone back on.

For household phones, use the same method but make use of some cotton wool buds to remove any grime from between keys. 

8. Clean light switches and knobs

Light switches, door knobs, cabinet handles are all surfaces we touch without thinking, and sometimes with dirty hands. A weekly wipe over with a damp cloth will keep them smudge free, but if you eat in your office or have someone at home who’s unwell, it’s worth swapping the damp cloth for an anti-bacterial wipe (or spray an anti-bacterial cleaner on a cloth). And wash your hands after the loo and after eating…

An e-cloth Home Starter Kit has all you need to make the switch to quick and convenient chemical-free cleaning and remove dirt and bacteria with just a wipe and water.

9. Clean home office windows and blinds with vinegar (and a sock)

You know that spray bottle filled with half water half vinegar that you used earlier? Dampen a sports sock with the solution and give your office windows a quick wipe over once a week. 

Then, with the sock over your hand, wipe down shutters and plastic blinds to remove fingerprints fast. The smell will fade quickly.

Use our guide to the best ways to clean windows for more tips (we've got the best window cleaning products, too).

Shutters within a home office setting by California Shutters

(Image credit: California Shutters)

10. How to clean scissors (and other office accessories) 

While you’ve got that vinegar-doused sock out, give sticky or dirty scissors a quick wipe over. It’ll make the scissors quickly shine and will stop them rusting (from where you’ll spill your tea over them in future). You can also use the vinegar mix to clean everything from your hole punch to in-tray.

11. How to remove Permanent Marker From a white board

Oops! Used the wrong pen on your white board? Permanent marker will come off with the application of nail varnish. Easier still (since you’re already in the office), use a dry erase marker

More cleaning tips and hacks:

Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.