Good Question: How to Protect a Laptop in the Kitchen?

With so many of us taking laptops into the kitchen, this question from Nina is a particularly good one!

I'm writing this to you after spending a half an hour getting a piece of lemon zest from under the L key on my laptop. Yes -- I took the laptop into the kitchen again!! This has become a regular and unwelcome experience in my life, but it is really not going anywhere. Although I have a healthy collection of cookbooks, 99% of the recipes I cook I find online. I refuse to print these out, which means that my little Mac is my loyal cooking companion.

Unfortunately, between the melted butter facials on the screen and salt scrubs on the mouse bad, the Mac is not enjoying the experience. I've gone as far as wrapping plastic wrap around the keyboard, but I was hoping you and the readers have some better tips. I've seen some features on innovating technology for the kitchen, but I have yet to see these techie solutions out and as a viable option. Any suggestions, from low to high tech, would be greatly appreciated!!

You're definitely not alone, Nina! All of us who tote our laptops into the kitchen have at one point or another found ourselves dabbing batter from the screen or trying to round up crumbs from underneath the keys.

So far, we've kept our laptop from grave harm by keeping it away from the main cooking area on a separate shelf. When we need it closer, our low-tech solution has been like yours - wrap that laptop up in plastic wrap! It's not pretty, but it beats the tedious cleanup.

Another basic solution might be sealing the laptop inside a large resealable plastic bag. Ziploc makes some pretty big, heavy-duty, clear plastic bags that we think could fit over the laptop like a sleeve. A large rubber band or a bit of clever taping could keep the plastic tight against the screen and keyboard.

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Large Ziploc Bags, around $7 per box from Amazon.

On the high-tech side, we've found a few possibilities online. A combination of keyboard protector plus screen protector would be good insurance against all but the worst kitchen spills:

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iSkin ProTouch Artic Keyboard Protector, $14.99 on Amazon
Laptop Covers and Skin, $16.95 from ProtectCovers.com - These look like they protect the touchpad area as well as the keyboard itself

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Kensington Cling2 Laptop Protector, $19.25 from Amazon.

For those of us who are regularly including laptops in our mise en place, it's definitely worth investing in some computer cleaning products. Compressed air is available at any office supply store and is great for blasting crumbs from keyboards. You should also be able to find both wet and dry wipes intended specifically for computer screens.

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There is also a product called Cyber Clean, which looks like silly putty and can be used to clean nooks that can be otherwise hard to reach. We reviewed it over on Unplggd, our site that reviews new technology, and it's available online from Firebox.com.

We were really hoping to find some sort of Mission-Impossible-approved, I-really-need-to-check-email-on-this-sandy-beach-in-the-rain, scuba-skin type of device, but apparently nothing like that is available to the general public quite yet. Hopefully, the products we mentioned above will tide us over in the meantime.

Any other laptop protecting suggestions for Nina?

Related: iPhone Apps for the Home Cook

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