The next time you’re cleaning the house, take a moment to consider what you haven’t dusted. Surprisingly, many of us neglect to tackle the single dirtiest objects in our homes: our electronic devices. Because they’re almost in constant contact with our hands – and because they tend to have tiny recesses in which moisture and dust can easily become trapped – computer keyboards, phones, and other peripherals are usually teeming with bacteria and other nasties. But because they’re particularly sensitive, they require special care and attention when cleaning. Here are some easy methods for cleaning computer screens & other devices, and advice on cleaning products you can use.
Remember to always disconnect and unplug any electronics before cleaning, and to follow the directions in the manual.
Computer Cleaning – The Keyboard
It’s easy to clean your computer keyboard. But, remember (especially if it’s a laptop) to take care with any liquid cleaning products, and these can severely damage the device and invalidate warranties. Always turn off your computer and disconnect the keyboard (if possible) before cleaning.
First, begin by turning the keyboard upside down and gently but firmly tapping the underside of the keyboard. This will dislodge any larger particles of dirt.
You should then go over the keyboard with a can of clean compressed air (which you’ll be able to find in most specialist computing stores), spraying between the keys to loosen and dislodge any other debris.
You can then remove this loosened dirt with a hand-held vacuum cleaner.
Finally, to remove finger-oils and other undesirable substances from the surface of the keys themselves, make a diluted solution of dishwashing detergent. It’s vital you don’t use harsher cleaning solutions in this step, as they will damage your hardware.
Once you’ve got this solution ready, dampen a piece of cloth with it, and, making sure it is not too wet, gently clean the surface of your keys.
Wait for the keyboard to completely dry before using.
How to Clean a Computer Mouse
More modern optical mice generally require less cleaning, as they are fully self-contained and have fewer removable parts. Periodically, it may be a good idea to go over the surface with diluted detergent and to blast some compressed air in between the buttons.
If you’re using the older rollerball style mouse, here are some basic instructions for cleaning it. First make sure to check the instructions that came with your mouse for any advice.
Carefully remove the ball and roll it gently in your dampened cloth with either dishwashing or laundry detergent.
Set it aside and allow plenty of time to dry.
Next, look inside the cavity where the ball normally rests, and you’ll see a set of rollers.
Moisten a cotton bud in isopropyl alcohol (again, obtainable at most electronic retailers) and gently drag it over the rollers to remove any excess dirt.
Make sure the rollers and the ball are all properly dried out, and then re-assemble the mouse.
How to Clean Computer Screens or TV Screens
Newer computer screens are especially sensitive, so be careful when touching them, and avoid applying too much direct pressure.
Remember to always read the manual before cleaning your electronic device, and check the warranty as well.
For a clean computer screen – first, use a dry cloth (not paper towels, toilet paper, or anything similar) to gently wipe off the surface. Don’t try to remove stubborn dirt by pressing harder at this stage.
If there’s persistent dirt, dampen the cloth with equal parts water and white vinegar, and have another go. This will dislodge the more resistant dirt.
Some manufacturers sell their own special screen cleaning solutions, but these are no more effective than the water/vinegar combination. Remember to keep chemicals away from children.
As for the rest of the monitor, you can use any multipurpose cleaning product on a dampened cloth, but do take care not to let it come into contact with the screen!
Cleaning a Smartphone
Smartphones are easy to clean, and if they are entirely touch-operated, you can use the section on screen-cleaning. Remember to read the manual and warranty before you try cleaning your smartphone.
Remember to turn your phone off before trying to clean it!
You can be a little more thorough with smartphones than when cleaning computer screens because their screens are designed to take more consistent pressure.
However, phone mouthpieces should be paid special attention, as they can get especially dirty (by way of being in near constant contact with the human mouth). Go over these once or twice a week with an antibacterial wipe.
Clean your electronic devices regularly as they are prone to harbouring bacteria.
Use water, or cleaning products sparingly.
Keep a can of compressed air by your desk to use for dislodging debris from your keyboard.