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Our electronic devices have become an irreplaceable part of our daily lives, which is why we can use them mindlessly and forget that they are actually very complex machines that require regular upkeep and cleaning for optimal performance. Between our computers, phones, tablets, and other favorite smart devices, chances are we are not doing the bare minimum to keep them clean. It’s not just because some of us are lazy, but many may not know how to clean electronics properly.
Whether we’re using our phone on the toilet (you know you do), eating lunch over our computer (which isn’t great for several reasons) or covering our smartwatches with bacteria (a surprisingly dirty culprit), there is a right way and a wrong way when it comes to how to clean electronics. Cleaning the wrong way can shorten your favorite device’s lifespan at best and totally destroy it at worst. We don’t want to have to go out and needlessly replace our newest smartphone — even if it is under warranty. No one needs that hassle.
Best Practices: How To Clean Electronics
Before diving into a deep clean, make sure you are prepared to get down and dirty, with caution.
- Power down: Arguably, the most crucial step before cleaning any device is to power down and unplug. You don’t want to clean a device when it’s turned on or plugged in. It can ruin your device and may even result in serious injury. You also want to be careful to remove any external gadgets that are attached.
- Air pressure: For keyboards, laptops, game controllers and anything else with internal spaces where dust and debris can gather, use compressed air duster sparingly to hit areas between the keys and nobs. Then, brush away crumbs and dust with a soft keyboard brush. Repeat this process as needed.
- Towel off: Microfiber cloths are your best friend when it comes to simple cleaning and regular maintenance. Use one to wipe grease and smudges off screens as often as you like and before you do any more involved cleaning.
- Don’t spray: Avoid aerosol sprays and cleaning solutions that contain bleach or abrasives. If you use any solution, make it a small amount of alcohol-based cleaner explicitly formulated for electronics. (Skip the Clorox wipes.) Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the device. Instead, moisten your microfiber cloth — damp, never wet — and gently dab or rub.
Now that you know the basics about how to clean electronics, we recommend these products to help you a great deal along the way:
1. Elite Tech Gear 4-Pack Blue Oversized 12″x 12″ Microfiber Cloths
You never want to use anything too abrasive to clean a screen. Aside from the necessary paper towel in a pinch, you need something that really knows how to clean electronics the right way. This four-pack of microfiber cloths is the way to g for routine maintenance. Use them on phones, tablets, laptop screens — even your blue light glasses. Wipe away any smudges and fingerprints, then stow them close to your devices so you can use them as needed.
2. OXO Good Grips Electronics Cleaning Brush
If you notice the keys on your keyboard sticking or if it just looks ready for a gentle cleaning, this soft-bristle brush from OXO is an easy and quick way to wipe away dirt, dust and crumbs. Think of it as you would a feather duster dusting your furniture and use the soft bristles to sweep away any loose debris your keyboard or device has collected. This little wiper can even get the dirt from those harder-to-reach areas where those office Clorox wipes can’t (and shouldn’t) reach. This electronics cleaning brush is also great for phones, camera lenses and other gadgets you use daily. Once done, keep it in your desk drawer until another dusty need arises. It takes up no more space than a pen.
3. MiracleWipes for Electronics Cleaning
These wipes are as simple to use as Clorox wipes but designed specifically for delicate electronics. Pull a wipe out of the container and wipe away grime like fingerprints, skin oils and any other smudges that get on your devices. Unlike those antibacterial wipes we all have on hand these days, these dry quickly and don’t leave behind wet spots or unwanted streaks.
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4. PhoneSoap 3 UV Cell Phone Sanitizer
Everyone is more concerned than ever about keeping their devices sanitized. This UV sanitizer from PhoneSoap has UV-C bulbs that kill 99.99% of all bacteria and germs — and COVID19 — and does so in just a few minutes. Plus, it has one standard USB port and one USB-C port for charging, so you can carry it with you when you travel or keep it at your desk to charge and sanitize in one neat package.
5. Sin Shine Electric Air Duster
This dust blower is quite the powerhouse and can blow high-pressure air in a pinpointed area to remove all that dirt, dust and debris we keep talking about. Sure, you can buy canned air, but those often need replacing and contain plenty of unsavory chemicals. This air duster can last you until retirement.
6. WHOOSH! Screen Cleaner Kit
This formula is an odorless, gentle blend free of alcohol and ammonia. Spray some on a clean microfiber cloth provided, and the results will show for themselves. Apple even trusts this CES Innovation Award honoree for use in its stores. This sleeper hit brand offers a wide array of products, but our favorite has to be the spray, thanks to the generous 16.9 fluid ounce size.
7. Tech Armor Complete Cleaning Kit
This kit is convenient because it offers everything needed for device cleaning — perfect for keeping in the car or office or throwing in a travel bag. It includes pre-moistened cleaning wipes, two microfiber polishing cloths and two containers of the gel screen cleaner. With all the screens we travel with today, it only makes sense to have a travel-sized solution on hand.
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8. iRoller Screen Cleaner
This tiny device may look like any other mini lint roller; however, it’s explicitly designed with screens in mind. If you’re wary of sprays, you’re in luck. This roller removes fingerprints, smudges and smears without using liquids of any kind. Honestly, it’s basically magic.
9. OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop Cleaner
This brush is undoubtedly charming — but it’s also very effective. It is a double-sided tool that can clean laptops and phones and includes a microfiber pad for all of those fingerprints and smudges. It’s also easy to store as the soft brush completely retracts, so all the bristles stay clean and protected when not being used.
10. 3M Notebook Screen Cleaning Wipes
These pre-moistened, individually wrapped wipes are so convenient and easy to use. Throw them in a computer case or bag and use them on your phone or other screens anytime you need them. It’ll avoid those streaks and smudges and not embarrass you if presenting from your screen during an important meeting. We’ve all been there.