Before we knew that COVID-19 is an airborne virus, we were one step away from dunking everything into a vat of bleach. But just because we're past the part of the pandemic where we wiped down all our groceries and made our hands desert-dry with sanitizer doesn't mean that our electronic devices shouldn't be kept clean.
Even though we're less fanatical about disinfecting them, they still harbor plenty of germs and should be cleaned regularly. So grab some microfiber cloths, cotton swabs, distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, and dish soap and read our guide to getting your gadgets gleaming—after you unplug or turn them off, of course.
How to Clean a Phone or Tablet
Phones and tablets have oleophobic (fingerprint-resistant) coatings that can come off, so manufacturers generally recommend wiping them down with distilled water and a barely texturedmicrofiber cloth, then using cotton swabs to clean around crevices, like the edges of the screen and buttons.
A global pandemic was no time to heed manufacturer warnings, and as people started taking harsher substances to surfaces in 2020, Applerevisedits "How to Clean Your Apple Products"guidelines(Opens in a new window)to endorse using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. According to Cupertino: "You may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of yourApple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don't submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don't use on fabric or leather surfaces."
If you want to disinfect thoroughly without wipes, get some 99% isopropyl alcohol, distilled water, a spray bottle, and adisposable microfiber cloth. Mix a solution that is 70% alcohol and 30% water and put it in the spray bottle. Then remove the case from your phone or tablet, spritz the cloth with the solution, and thoroughly wipe down your phone. Do not reuse the cloth.
If you're concerned about your screen, put a tempered-glass screen protector on it so you don't damage the actual screen. Though it's likely to be treated with a coating as well, it's easily replaceable and won't cause damage to the device itself.Before you put a case back on your device, go over the case with the solution and a cloth and let it dry completely.Then be sure to wash your hands, or all your cleaning will have been for nothing.
If you're just concerned about grime, use wipes likeCare Touch Lens Cleaning Wipes.
How to Clean Headphones and Earphones
Yourheadphonesandearphonesare some of the closest things to you. Aside from being coated in sweat and wax (gross, but facts), they're likely going with you as you venture out.
The general recommendation forover-the-ear headphones is to go over them with a microfiber cloth dampened with a little water and following up with a dry one after. If the cushions and headband look or feel grimy, you can give them a bit of a wash. Remove the ear cushions first to clean them separately. Then combine a teaspoon of mild detergent with a cup of water and use a lint-free cloth to wipe the band and cushions down with the solution. Follow that with a swipe of water on a cloth, and then dry all the components completely.
AirPodsand other all-in-one units without eartips are supposed to be cleaned only with a microfiber cloth. If your AirPods have gotten something on them like lotion or food (it happens) or have stood up to a lot of sweat, you can take a lint-free cloth and dampen it with a bit of water and go over them. Dry them off with a lint-free cloth, then let them sit for a bit before you put them back in the case.
To remove wax and dust from headphones and earbuds, take a bit ofadhesive putty, roll a tiny bit into a ball, and quickly and lightly press and remove gunk from any grille parts.
Once again, though, these aren't normal times, so if you want to de-germ, grab the same solution you made for your phone, spray it on one of those disposable microfiber cloths, and wipe down the entire surface. The same goes forover-the-ear headphones.
For earphones (including AirPods Pro), remove the eartips and go over them with some water and a tiny bit of soap applied to a microfiber cloth. Rinse them with water and dry them with a lint-free cloth and don’t put them back on until they are thoroughly dry.You can clean the grille parts of earphones by dabbing some adhesive putty onto them. For the body of the earphones, if you're not concerned about germs [eyes emoji], wipe them down with a microfiber cloth. But the sensible thing to do is to spray a disposable microfiber cloth with the alcohol-and-water solution, and use that to wipe them.Don't forget to go over any wires, if you're still living that life.
How to Clean a Laptop
Because your laptop travels, it has plenty of opportunity to pick up unsavory characters. Turn your laptop upside down and (gently) shake out the keyboard to rid yourself of the biggest and most obvious invaders: dirt and crumbs. Then grab a can ofcompressed air dusterand blast it.
Now make sure your laptop is unplugged and, if you can, remove the battery. Lightly dampen amicrofiber cleaning clothand go over all the plastic or metal surfaces.
To clean an LCD, use aproduct tailor-made for the job, along with a microfiber cloth that will prevent those streaks other cleaners can leave. For touch screens, use water or eyeglass cleaner applied to a microfiber cloth. If you want a one-swipe solution, try3M Notebook and Tablet Cleaning Wipes.
How to Clean a Desktop PC
Yourcomputer monitormight be the window to your world, but it's not an actual window, so no Windex. Instead, use a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water or screen cleaner, if you have an LCD. If you have a touch screen, clean it with a microfiber cloth; for smudges, use only water or eyeglass cleaner applied to the cloth first to remove them.
As for the plastic parts that surround the screen, spritz some window cleaner or just use water. The same goes for your tower. Just go over all the surfaces with a cloth and either water, general-purpose cleaner, or a mix that's half isopropyl alcohol and half water.
Chances are you've picked up the habit of eating over yourkeyboard,and it's picked up some crumbs. Shake it out over a trash can, then grab a can of compressed air to get rid of the ones that lurk under the keys. Get a damp cloth and go over the keys. Use a cotton swab to get inside the crevices. If your keyboard is particularly dirty, mix up a solution with half isopropyl alcohol and half water, and use it on the cloth and cotton swabs.
Yourmousespends the day skittering across your desk, and it can track plenty of dirt. Use the same alcohol-and-water solution, dab it on a cotton swab, and run it over the feet of the mouse and through any cracks and crevices. Then take a cloth dipped in the solution and go over the body of the mouse and the cord.
How to Clean a Flat-Screen TV
When you're doing your normal household cleaning, you might stop in front of yourtelevision, spritz it with a glass cleaner, wipe it down, and move on. In the words of millions of headlines: You're doing it wrong.
Glass cleaners can be corrosive, and many television screens have anti-reflective coatings that are very sensitive to the chemicals in those cleaners. To clean a TV screen properly, apply water to a microfiber cloth and gently go over its surface.
Don't forget to clean your remote controls. They can be crumb-filled, smudgy messes. Remove the batteries from the remote, shake loose any crumbs, and then blast the buttons with a bit of compressed air. Then go over the surface with a mixture of one part water to one part isopropyl alcohol applied to a microfiber cloth. Dip a cotton swab in the solution and run it around all of the buttons.
How to Clean a Smart Speaker
One family member that's in your kitchen, living room, and probably even your bedroom doesn't shower every day, and it's time you two had a talk about it.Smart speakerssuch as the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Nest could undoubtedly use some freshening up.
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For devices with screens, like theGoogle Nest HubandAmazon Echo Show 10,you can go over the screen with a screen-cleaning wipe and the fabric-covered parts with a plain microfiber cloth. If the fabric has a stain, dampen the microfiber cloth slightly and go over it. (This is similar to the advice Apple gives if the HomePod leaves a white ring on a wood surface).
For all-plastic devices, such as older-generation Amazon Echos, you can use a slightly dampened microfiber cloth on the surface. If the grilles look grody, dab them with someBlu-Tackfirst.
How to Clean a Game Console and Controllers
Your low scores could possibly be blamed on a gunked-up gamecontrollerorconsole. That's the good news. The bad news is that game consoles and controllers can get particularly nasty.
First, dust off the console with a dry microfiber cloth orSwiffer duster. Then go over it with a microfiber cloth and a small amount of water. Dip a cotton swab into water and run it through any crevices—but not any cutouts.
For controllers, make a mixture of one part water to one part isopropyl alcohol and apply it to a microfiber cloth. Wipe down the controller thoroughly. Dip a cotton swab into the solution and run it around buttons and into crevices. Because you handle controllers so frequently, upkeep with some wipes is a good idea that will save you a lot of work later and will cut down on germs and grossness.
How to Clean Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches
Yourfitness tracker(and to some extent yoursmartwatch) is there to make you sweat, but that means it gets sweaty along with you. The good news is that both can stand up to some moisture. Clean the face with a bit of water and a microfiber cloth.
For bands made of rubber (silicone, elastomer, etc.), rinse with water or wipe them down with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. If you're wearing moisturizer or sunscreen lotion with your band, use a gentle skin cleanser such as Cetaphil on it. If marks remain, try erasing them with a rubber eraser like thePaper Mate White Pearl. Should that fail, mix one part baking soda to one part water to make a paste, and then rub that into the band and wipe off with a wet cloth. If the band is still stained, you can try aMr. Clean Magic Eraser. But be warned: The "magic" in Magic Eraser is that it removes layers of the substance you're cleaning, so you're essentially sandpapering the band.
Nylon bands can smell because they are especially prone to picking up sweat. If this happens or if the band is stained, mix a tiny bit of dish detergent and water to wipe them down, then follow with plain water.
Metal bands should be wiped with a lint-free cloth, and if necessary, you can involve a small bit of water. If you have a stainless-steel band and it's gotten discolored, use a tiny bit of a stainless-steel polish such asBar Keeper's Friend, but make sure to thoroughly rinse it off so you don't transfer the chemicals to your skin when you put the band back on. For discolored silver-plated bands, use asilver-cleaning clothsparingly (plating flakes off easily).
Wipe down leather bands with water and a microfiber cloth, and clean with a good leather cleaner followed by a conditioner. Apple Brand (no relation to your iPhone)makes a good kit.
Fitbit recommends cleaning the charging contacts on its line of trackers with a toothpick or a toothbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol. Dry the contacts with a lint-free cloth.
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