How to clean your gadgets

All gadgets get dirty sooner or later. Here are our tips on how to easily clean your gadgets.

All gadgets accumulate dust and dirt over time. Gadgets such as your mobile phone and keyboard for your computer are used every day and are extra-susceptible to bacteria build-up.

To reduce the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses, and help your gadgets last longer, it’s important that you clean them regularly.

You don’t need advanced cleaning products. You just need some spare time and regular household items. Here's how to clean some of the most commonly used home gadgets.

General tips for cleaning tech products

  • Only use mild detergents approved by manufacturers. Soap mixed with water works great for general cleaning of dirty and dusty surfaces.
  • Avoid chemicals such as bleach, window cleaners and nail polish removers. Screens often have a specially treated surface that can be destroyed if you use the wrong detergent.
  • Never use more liquid than necessary to moisten a cloth or cotton bud. It must not drip or feel wet when you touch it.
  • Check the manual that comes with your gadget as to how to best clean it, or check the manufacturer's website to see if there are guidelines.

Practical things to have when cleaning your gadgets

  • Cotton buds
  • Isopropanol
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Lint-free cloth / microfibre cloth
  • Toothpick
  • Mild soap
  • Small, soft brush
  • Air blower for cameras or compressed air can
iStock.com / ViewApart

Mobile phones and tablets

Mobile phones and tablets are really bacteria prone and we use them multiple times each day. Many people don’t think about cleaning their phones regularly - even though they can spread both the flu and the common cold virus.

It’s easy to clean a mobile phone or tablet yourself and it requires no more than a microfibre cloth and some disinfectant wipes. As long as you are careful and don’t use chemicals other than what the mobile manufacturers recommend, you’ll have a clean gadget again in no time. Remember to never use more liquid than is absolutely necessary when wiping your gadget.

Also, don’t use bleach or other chemicals that may affect the outer material. This also applies to any accessories such as leather cases which may become discoloured with the wrong detergent. Also avoid using compressed air.

How to clean your mobile phone and tablet

  1. Turn off the mobile phone or tablet and remove the cover if it has one
  2. Use a dry, clean microfibre cloth to wipe the outside of the unit
  3. With a disinfectant wipe, gently clean the entire exterior
  4. Allow the unit to dry for a few minutes, then wipe it again with the microfibre cloth
  5. Repeat the cleaning process on the case – don’t forget to use a brand new disinfectant wipe
iStock.com / Deagreez

Headphones - both in-ear and over-ear

Headphones can quickly get really dirty and at least need to be wiped with a damp cloth every now and then. Especially in-ear headphones that are placed inside the ear where wax can get stuck on the inside and outside of the earbuds.

Cleaning your headphones is no trickier than any other tech gadget. All that is needed is a microfibre cloth, isopropanol and cotton buds. Keep in mind that different manufacturers have different advice on how their headphones should be cleaned. Check the manual or the manufacturer's website for tips on how to do it.

It’s easy to clean the headphones. This is how you do it:

  1. Make sure the headphones are unplugged and turned off
  2. Wipe the headphones with a microfibre cloth to remove any superficial dust and dirt
  3. If the headphones have removable pads or ear plugs, remove them and gently clean them underneath. Take out any ear wax with a cotton bud or gently blow with a bellows - avoid using sharp objects!
  4. Mix some mild soap and water, dip a lint-free cloth in the mixture so it becomes moist (Note: it should not be dripping wet, just moist)
  5. Wipe all superficial parts with the damp cloth. If you clean the speaker grids or microphones, use a dry cotton pad and not the damp cloth.
  6. Wait for all parts to dry properly before putting the headphones back on.
iStock.com / Mykola Churpita

The computer keyboard

Keyboards for your computer need to be cleaned just like your mobile phone and tablet. Unlike the dirty screen on your mobile gadget, it’s rarely as obvious that the keys are dirty, but believe us when we say that they are at least as big a bacteria collector as the mobile phone you walk around with.

An important difference between the mobile phone and the tablet is that the cleaning of the keys is not as risk-free. Exposed electronics are located under the keys, which means you have to be extra careful when cleaning. With a little caution and the right things at home, however, there are no major problems.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Never use detergents that are sprayed directly onto the keyboard as these can leak down into the electronics and you risk ruining the keyboard, and in the worst case scenario, make your laptop unusable if that’s what you’ve got.
  • If a lot of debris and dust has accumulated under the keys, you may need to temporarily remove them from the keyboard. However, be sure to do so only if the keyboard is designed for removal of the keys - check the manual first!
  • If you use compressed air in a can, take extra care. Keep the nozzle away from the keyboard so as not to risk small drops of moisture that may accumulate on the electronics. Be extra careful, or avoid completely, on laptops.

This is how you clean your laptop’s keyboard

  1. Turn off the computer and turn the entire unit upside down - gently shake to allow loose sitting dust and debris to fall out
  2. Use a small brush and gently remove anything that is stuck a little harder between the keys. If your vacuum cleaner has a brush, you can use it and suck up the debris right away.
  3. Dip the tip of a cotton bud in isopropanol, make sure it does not drip from the tip, and wash gently on and around all the keys. Be careful not to use too strong products as it may damage the keys.
  4. Wipe the keyboard with a microfiber cloth and make sure everything is completely dry before restarting the computer.

This is how you clean your desktop computer’s keyboard

  1. Disconnect the keyboard from the computer and turn it upside down - gently shake so that loose sitting dust and debris fall off
  2. Use a small brush and gently remove anything that is stuck a little harder between the keys. If your vacuum cleaner has a brush, you can use it and suck up the debris right away.
  3. Some mechanical keyboards have associated tools that allow you to lift the keys and clean them underneath. If you have keys that feel sticky or stiff, consult your manual on how to clean them.
  4. Dip the tip of a cotton bud in isopropanol, make sure it does not drip from the tip, and gently wash on and around all the keys. Be careful not to use too strong products as it may damage the keys.
  5. Wipe the keyboard with a microfiber cloth and make sure everything is completely dry before restarting the computer.
iStock.com / Veresovich

This is how you clean the computer mouse

Just like with the keyboard, the computer mouse needs to be cleaned every now and then. The process is broadly similar. Make sure you have a dry microfiber cloth, cotton buds, isopropanol and possibly a toothpick available.

  1. Make sure the computer mouse is off and disconnected from the computer. If it’s a wireless computer mouse with AA or AAA batteries, remove them.
  2. Wipe the outside of the mouse with the microfibre cloth. Then take a lint-free cloth dipped in water or a mild mixture with soap and gently wipe the entire surface. Remember that the cloth should only be slightly moist and not drip.
  3. Moisten the tip of a cotton bud with isopropanol. Carefully clean the sensor on the bottom of the mouse. Lightly swipe the sensor, don’t push.
  4. Use a new cotton bud with isopropanol and gently wipe the scroll wheel, including the sides, and at all locations where skin deposits and dirt may get stuck. For example, at the edge of the buttons.
  5. Allow the mouse to dry thoroughly and possibly wipe it with the microfibre cloth an extra time before putting it back on.
  6. Don't forget the mouse pad! Mouse pads quickly accumulate skin deposits from the hand. Take a damp cloth and wipe off thoroughly. Now you have both a clean computer mouse and mouse pad!