Electronics are quite a puzzle when we're trying to clean them. If we go to town and scrub them clean with whatever we have, we risk permanently damaging them. But if we let the filth build up, it would feel weird to the touch and our gadgets become unsightly and unusable in turn. Not to mention the invisible enemy: germs. How do we go about this? Here are 6 of the most commonly used electronic devices and how to properly clean them without the fancy tools and the constant worry of breaking them.
For Desktop Computers & Laptops
It's different when dealing with LCD/LED screens, and non-LCD screens. For glass coated screens, you have to first turn your devices off. If they're plugged, unplug your devices first. Get a dry microfiber cloth and wipe away the dust on your screen. If you see any smudges or fingerprints, use isopropyl alcohol (preferably 70%) and spray it on a piece of clean cloth. You can also use disinfecting wipes for the screen. Make sure the cloth is just damp and not dripping wet, and start wiping the surface of the screen and then go to the corners. Wait until the screen dries and remove any hand prints or streaks with a microfiber cloth.
When it comes to LED and LCD screens, start by turning off your device first or unplugging it from its power source, then proceed with your microfiber cloth to get rid of the dust. In dealing with prints, residue, and other small spots on the surface of the screen, mix 1 part white vinegar and 1 part distilled water to make your own inexpensive special cleaning spray. Make sure to use a side of your microfiber cloth that doesn't have dirt or any residue on it. Don't wipe the screen too hard, but be as thorough as possible. It can smell quite funny after, so don't forget to mist a water-based cleaning solution (2 parts water, 1/2 part liquid soap) on a clean piece of cloth to get rid of the smell of the vinegar.
While the computer screen is relatively easy to deal with, keyboard junk is a different challenge altogether. To clean off crumbs, dirt speckles, or caked-on grime, you can use cotton buds to be thorough with the little crevices in between keys. Better yet, use a small straw to push out tiny balls of dirt from the keys and dampen your Q-tips so the dirt balls stick to them. An alternative would be double-sided tape or the adhesive part of your sticky tape to get rid of dirt on the surface. Meanwhile, if you're wresting globs of keyboard gunk, it must be done gently. Softly apply pressure with a clean, lint-free, and dust-free piece of cloth. When using cleaners, like disinfectants, cleaning liquids, or topical cleaners, always mist them on a piece of cloth first and never directly on the device.
For Gaming Consoles
While your gaming consoles are built pretty tough against external pressure, crumbs from your favorite gaming food, pet fur, crud, grime, and overall accumulated gunk from the environment are your toughest enemies. Starting with controllers, wipe them with a piece of cloth misted with 50% isopropyl alcohol. Pay attention to the seams of the controllers, which can be filled with disgusting grime and gunk too. Keep your buttons and sticks shiny and oil-free with regular cleaning. Make sure to keep your hands dry and squeaky clean as much as possible. If you touch them with dirty hands, clean them right away.
Some pesky insects also crawl inside your prized consoles and live there rent-free. Don't let this happen by keeping your house clean and infestation-free. As for dealing with the insects themselves, you have to bring the gaming unit outside your house first to be able to clean it thoroughly. This ways, bugs or insects won't get back inside your home. For your insect extermination, spray them out with compressed air. You can also take out the the power supply first so that you can check to see if there are remaining bugs inside, and quickly remove them from the power supply of the console. Check other areas of the console as well to be really sure.
For Phones & Tablets
More than wiping the surface of your phone clean is scourging germs from it. Especially under a worldwide pandemic, it's best to disinfect the device that you use most of the time. Begin by unplugging and turning your phone off first.
You can use disinfectant wipes with 70% isopropyl alcohol or spritz this type of alcohol on a pieced of microfiber cloth. Make use you use a clean one. Remember that cleaners are to be misted onto cloth and never directly sprayed or poured on the phone, no matter how dirty it is. Don't forget to wring out the cleaning cloth especially if it has too much disinfectant. As for the disinfecting spray you use to wash your phone case, make sure that it's sprayed well on a clean cloth and appropriate for the material of your phone case. Research on your phone case's material first before proceeding to clean it to prevent unwanted tarnishing or discoloration. It's important to clean your phone at least once daily.
As for tablets, we all know that kids use them the most. Oil, fingerprints, makeup, and even food crumbs often land on our iPads. To deal with this, you need to turn off your tablet/phone first. While some tablets are designed so you can take the battery out, the standard for most tablets is usually sealing the chassis to prevent damages to the device. Use a microfiber cloth for cleaning. Spritz it with water and wipe the screen gently, and use the dry parts of the cloth to remove the moisture. Be careful of water dripping to speakers, because your audio may suffer, or worse, not function anymore. Try a mild solution of water and liquid soap to remove tougher stains, grime, or gunk. Wait for your tablet to dry completely before putting the battery back inside it.
For Headphones & Earphones
It may be a bit difficult to clean your trusty pair of Bose, JBL, Audio-Technica, Beats, or Sennheiser headphones, especially the inner nooks and crannies like the earcups or earmuffs that sometimes smell funny after we use them for working out. It's good to purchase removable earcups or earmuffs so the mesh inside is easily accessible and cleanable. If it's not removable, then be extra careful so as to not ruin the speakers. Use a clean and non-abrasive cloth and mist it with water, then clean the ear cups along with the actual headphone. Wipe either sides and see how much dirt clings on it. This is just the preliminary cleaning. The main disinfecting agent is rubbing alcohol, just like on the other devices. Mist a separate piece of clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and thoroughly clean the unit. Use cotton buds for the areas that are harder to reach. Remember to clean the headband (yes, that's what it's called) and the adjustable sliders on either side, too.
As for your earphones, you can use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Children’s toothbrush is an ideal choice. To dislodge any dirt, dust, or earwax, brush the wire mesh gently. Give the logo or non-mesh side of your earbuds a little tap to knock off some of the remaining dirt. You may also carefully use a toothpick to do this just in case there are bits of grime and gunk stuck in the sides and other areas. To sanitize the earbuds, make it a habit to wipe with a damp cloth misted with alcohol. Let them dry first before putting them back on the actual earphone unit.
For USB Ports & Power Cords
USB ports are just usually filled with dust, so what you can do is use cotton buds to take the big chunks of dust out first. Make sure that the cotton buds you use are as lint-free as possible, even if cotton really tends to leave behind residual fibers. For smaller bits, you can take a small straw and blow it on the port. If you see that this doesn't work, then invest in compressed air to blow the little pieces of dirt out more thoroughly. To disinfect the ports, you can use new cotton buds with a little alcohol for further cleaning. Make sure it's not too wet so as to maintain the functionality of your USB ports. This goes for ports like HDMI, VGA, ethernet, audio jack, card readers, and USB type-A, type-B, and type-C, among other ports.
Power cords, on the other hand, are easier to clean than USB ports since they don't have the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. You can use disinfecting wipes or a microfiber cloth spritzed with alcohol or liquid sanitizer. Make sure to twist them in a way that doesn't damage their functionality when storing, too.
For Speakers & Microphones
Equipment like speakers and microphones seem really tricky to clean, because we risk breaking them if we use a cleaning tool that's too wet or too abrasive. There are many types of speakers, so let's approach this one by one. For phone speakers, you can use a toothbrush with soft and dry bristles to get some gunk out of them. For laptop speakers, use cotton buds to clean them, and for bigger speakers, follow these steps:
- Unplug your speakers first or make sure they're turned off.
- Have a piece of microfiber cloth ready for cleaning speaker grills made of plastic or metal, or a lint roller if the grills are made of fabric.
- Clean the actual speaker cones with a clean microfiber cloth. If they're waterproof, you use water and liquid disinfectant soap with the microfiber cloth. If they're not, just mist a microfiber cloth with some alcohol.
- Let dry and reattach the speaker grill.
Meanwhile, cleaning microphones can be somewhat similar to cleaning speakers. Just like removing the speaker grill, you must also remove the microphone grid. Since grids are usually metal or plastic, it's fine to use liquid disinfectant soap and warm water to clean them. After drying the grid, put it back on the mic. Wipe the rest of the microphone's surface with a damp cloth. Finally, leave the mic to dry completely for at least 3 days.
Take Better Care of Your Electronics
Aside from basic hygiene purposes, regularly cleaning your electronics means they're less likely to wear out and be unusable. By practicing these cleaning methods, you contribute less to annual e-waste dumps. You also replace your electronic devices less often, which can be less of a hassle to keep replacing them year after year, or even within months. Keep these cleaning tips in mind and you'll thank yourself later!
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