Keeping It Clean: The Proper Way to Clean Your Devices
It used to be that the dirtiest object in your home was either your doorknob or your faucets – they were the things that everyone touched day in and day out. Yet in today’s hyperconnected world, there are devices we touch far more often – all the electronics that are permanently attached to us, whether our cell phones, laptops, tablets or more. In fact, a recent study from the University of Arizona found that your cell phone carries 10 times the amount of bacteria as a toilet seat – how gross is that?
But unlike a faucet or a doorknob that you can sanitize with a household cleaner, delicate electronics require special care. And that’s even more critical in an office environment where the devices you are cleaning up not only serve your personal needs, but your organization’s critical business operations as well. While it’s always wise to have your IT folks take care of normal maintenance, there are some basic things employees can do on their own.
It goes without saying that you should always follow manufacturer recommendations when it comes to cleaning any electronic device, as they all have their own idiosyncrasies. It’s also vital to make certain that you NEVER put any type of liquid directly on your device – put it on the cloth you are using to clean your device instead. Liquids and electronics simply don’t mix. Below are some general guidelines for major devices.
Clean Your Devices – Phones and Tablets
Cell Phones and Tablets
For cleaning purposes, tablets are, in essence, large cell phones, since most don’t have a keyboard like laptops. (If yours does, see the laptop instructions later in this article).
First, turn off your device. Then remove your case and clean it. Even though your case might be made of a far more durable material than your phone, only use cleaners on it that are safe for your phone to contact. If you use something caustic and that residue remains in the case after you reinstall it on your phone or tablet, you could damage or even destroy your screen or other delicate components.
Use a soft, lint-free cloth that is slightly damp with water to clean the surfaces of your device. Never use a cloth that is dripping wet or you will damage your device. And for those small openings that you can’t easily reach? Use a dry cotton swab to clean them up.
Clean Your Devices – Laptops
Once you read any instructions that are specific to your device, turn it off and disconnect the power cord.
Next, use a can of condensed air (and follow its instructions) to blow any dust, pet dander or crumbs off your keyboard. Direct the air to the space around the keys, cracks and crevices where crumbs and dust are likely to gather, and any ports or outlets. When you are spraying, angle your laptop rather than the can to avoid condensation that can damage your device. Use a very slightly damp microfiber cloth dipped in water (Apple recommends ONLY using water) or 90% isopropyl alcohol to clean your keys. Before you begin, remember to wring any excess water from the cloth and NEVER put liquid directly on your device. A cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol can help remove stubborn stains.
To clean the hard surfaces of your laptop – for example, the top cover and hard areas without keys, opt again for a microfiber cloth or a swab dipped in 90% isopropyl alcohol. The screen and bezel (the frame around your screen) also require special care – it’s best to use a dry microfiber cloth or, if the manufacturer allows, you can use a slightly damp one. NEVER use a harsh surface or window cleaner on your screen.
Clean Your Devices – Desktops
Desktops present their own unique challenges depending on where you place them. If components are placed on the ground instead of on a desk, they are likely to need cleaned more often. Experts recommend cleaning about once a year if your machine is not overly exposed to pet dander, dirt or smoke, but every 3 to 6 months if it is.
As with any other device, first turn it off and remove all cords. There are detailed videos online about cleaning the inside of your desktop, but that task is often better left to the pros.
For the case itself, you can purchase an external cleaner, opt for water or even 90% isopropyl alcohol. Again, primarily spray the cleaner on your microfiber cloth and not the box itself, however this rule isn’t as hard and fast on desktop devices as it is on laptops and handhelds. For smaller areas and creases, use cotton swabs. Remove any dust from fans and vents with a swab, and you’ll be running much cooler. For keyboards and monitor screens, follow the same steps you would for those components on a laptop.
These simple steps can help your devices run more smoothly, make them healthier by eliminating germs and debris, and make them look better, too.