COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) has sparked a lot more diligence when it comes to cleaning your hands, but it’s also important to keep your most-used items clean as well. For us and many of you, that includes our tech devices, like phones, keyboards, and controllers. It can be hard to know what’s safe to use on your expensive gadgets or what’s even effective–there are a lot of products out there that are good at getting your stuff wet but not necessarily clean.
To demystify the process, we’ve put together this quick-and-easy guide to how to sanitize your phone, keyboard, and other common tech, including the best cleaning products we’ve tried and recommend.
How to clean your cell phone
In the age of smartphones basically just being big screens, it’s easier than ever to keep your iPhone or Android device clean. However, it’s also very easy to damage your phone if you don’t choose the right products or methods to clean it with. And since it’s likely the device that comes with you everywhere you go, it’s important to sanitize your phone regularly.
First off, don’t submerge your smartphone in any cleaning product. The best way to sanitize your iPhone is to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe–Apple suggests Clorox’s disinfecting wipes. Do not pour isopropyl alcohol on a cloth and then use that, as it’s very important to not get liquids into any of the crevices of your phone. Once you’ve found the right product, wipe down your phone thoroughly and then dry it off with a microfiber cloth.
How to clean your keyboard and mouse
Keyboards and mice are a little trickier than phones because it’s much easier for liquids to get into their electronics and destroy them. However, it’s not difficult to keep them clean. You’ll want to use the same 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes you would for your phone, but before wiping down your devices, you should squeeze out some of the excess liquid. At that point, you’ll be safe to wipe down your keyboard and mouse–be sure to only wipe down the tops and sides of the actual keys, don’t wipe underneath unless you plan on removing each key to do so. After wiping your entire keyboard down, you’ll want to use a microfiber or lint-free cloth to dry them–this is worth doing even if there isn’t any visible liquid on your keyboard just to be safe.
Thankfully, your mouse is a lot smaller than your keyboard, so wiping it down won’t be as difficult–though you should still practice the same diligence. Get rid of the excess liquid from the cloth, wipe down your mouse, and then wipe it off with a microfiber, lint-free cloth. This method is also effective at cleaning entire laptops, though you need to practice extreme caution when wiping down areas with open slots. You really don’t want any liquid seeping into any of your devices.
How to clean your controllers
Cleaning video game controllers is fairly simple, but because each button is an opening to the inner electronics, you need to practice caution. Wipe down the controller with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, then dry it off with a microfiber cloth immediately. If you’re comfortable taking the controller apart and cleaning it that way, then you can try that as well–this will make it easier to clean each individual button, though it’s not necessary unless the controller is really gunked up.
A better way to keep your controller intact and clean inside the buttons’ crevices is to use an eraser or piece of silicone to pull up any gunk. The best option for this is OXO’s cleaning brush that features bristles on one side for dust and dirt cleaning and a piece of silicone on the other that’s perfect for getting into those tight nooks and cleaning them out.
How to clean screens
Screens are perhaps the easiest thing to clean. As long as you have the right products, it’s hard to mess up. The product I use is Whoosh screen cleaner kit, which comes with three microfiber cloths and two bottles of the cleaning solution. All you do is spray the solution on a cloth, then wipe down your dirty screen and then dry it off with the other side. It’s great for PC monitors, laptop displays, tablet screens, and even the Nintendo Switch–it also works well for eyeglasses, which is great for me as I’m a four-eyed nerd with very dirty lenses.
Of course, there are plenty of other high-quality screen cleaners. Just make sure you spray the cleaner onto a microfiber cloth before wiping it down–and if you’re cleaning a Nintendo Switch, remove the Joy-Cons. Spraying the cleaner onto the screen directly can cause some splatter to get into the device itself, causing easy-to-avoid damage. You can also use alcohol wipes to clean screens, though if you sneeze or cough onto a screen, I’ve found that a dedicated cleaner can more effectively pull that grime off of the screen.
Suggested products: Whoosh screen cleaner kit — $20