Smartphone & Tablets
You might balk at the idea of splashing out on a dedicated cleaning solution, but it’s important not to use cleaning fluids such as a window cleaning spray on your smartphone or tablet screen. Doing so could damage the oleophobic coating which is what helps to stop fingerprints showing up. Instead, use a dry microfibre cloth to remove dust or dirt, and wipe the screen in circular motions to avoid scratches. You might want to start by using an anti-bacterial wet wipe beforehand to get any sticky stains or residue off before you start polishing. Finally, don't forget to turn your device over and clean your camera lens too, to avoid blurry pictures. If you're willing to blow the budget, it might be worth investing in an electronic sanitiser. Using UV-C LED lights, simply pop your phone into the device, and let it get to work killing any bacteria and germs which may have built up. After 30 seconds, turn it over to ensure a thorough clean. These days, you can even find wireless charging stations which come with in-built anti-bacterial UV light. Two birds, one stone.
Use a microfibre cloth to remove built-up dust and dirt from the lid and casing. Using a can of compressed air like this one can help to blow out any dust and crumbs from between the keys, or alternatively use a small, specially designed tech-friendly feather duster to get rid of deep-down debris. When it comes to cleaning the keyboard, use an antibacterial wipe (just make sure it isn’t too wet so it doesn’t damage the electrics underneath – you can always wring it out before using if you’re not sure). Bear in mind, too, that some manufacturers like Apple only recommend using a dry microfibre cloth on their products.
While it won’t work on laptops, if you’re back in the office working on a desktop, or are lucky enough to have one at home, a deep clean of your keyboard might be in order. If you’re using a wired desktop keyboard, start by unplugging it. Tilt the keyboard upside down and shake it to remove any loose debris. If you have a can of compressed air, you can spray it in between the keys as well. Then, dip a cotton swab into some gentle rubbing alcohol (not soapy water) and brush it around each key. If you’re unsure of the alcohol’s strength, try it on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t cause discolour or remove the lettering on the keys. From there, dip a cloth in the alcohol and brush it along the tops of all the keys and surfaces, taking care to scrub heavily used areas (such as the Enter key and spacebar). Use a dry, lint-free cloth to remove dust and polish the keyboard, before plugging it back in.
Whether you’ve got in- or over-ear headphones, you need to clean them – especially if you use them for running or going to the gym. If your headphones have silicone ear tips, gently remove them and use warm soapy water and a clean cloth or a cotton bud to clean them. Leave them to dry properly before refitting them. If the earbuds are made of foam, then just use a clean, damp cloth (without soap) to wipe them, and then let them air dry. Once you've removed the ear buds, or if your headphones don't have any, check the metal grilles on the earpieces. If they're dirty, use a soft, dry toothbrush to dislodge the dirt. Finally, if the cable on the headphones looks like it could do with a clean, dip a cloth in warm soapy water and slide it down.
USB & Other Cables
While you’re at in, give the rest of your loose cables a going over – whether it be USB ports or something else. Simply take an antibacterial wipe or alcohol swab (you can often find these as parts of medical first aid kits) and pinch the cable in it, between your thumb and middle finger. Drag down the length of the cable, as many times as is necessary to clean the dirt and grime. Follow up with a micro-fibre cloth to ensure everything is dry before you refit it.
If you wear your fitness watch regularly, it probably will need cleaning. Just like headphones, submerge a cloth in warm soapy water and wring it out before sliding it down the strap of your gadget, taking care to avoid the face or tracking element if it's not waterproof. If you've got a buckle with a watch-strap stem, it's worth dipping a cotton bud in warm soapy water to clean the holes the stem slots into, too.
It’s tempting to use the same polish or glass cleaner you might use for the rest of your living space when it comes to wiping down the television screen. But it’s worth remembering glass cleaners can be corrosive and many television screens have anti-reflective coatings that are sensitive to different chemicals. Instead, apply water to a microfibre cloth and gently go over its surface, working in circular motions. Don't forget to clean your remote controls, either – they can be crumb-filled or caked in sticky fingerprints and dust. You might even want to try dipping a cotton swab in a gentle alcohol or antibacterial solution and running it around all of the buttons.
Whether you have the Amazon Echo, an Apple HomePod, or Google Home, your smart speakers could undoubtedly use some freshening up. For devices with screens, like the Google Nest Hub and Amazon Echo Show 8, go over the screen with a specially designed screen-cleaning wipe and the fabric-covered parts with a plain microfibre cloth. For all-plastic devices like older-generation Amazon Echos, use a slightly dampened microfibre cloth, and if the grilles look dirty, dab them with some gel keyboard cleaner or Blu-Tack first.
First, dust off the console with a dry microfibre cloth. Then, go over it with another microfibre cloth which has been dampened in a small amount of water. Dip a cotton swab into the water and run it through any crevices. Moving onto the controllers, make a mixture of one-part water to one-part gentle rubbing alcohol and apply it to a microfibre cloth. Wipe down the controller thoroughly, before dipping a cotton swab into the solution and running it around the buttons and crevices. Stay on top of the problem with some antibacterial wipes – especially if members outside of your own household are using them.
For more government-approved cleaning advice during coronavirus, click here.
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