How to Sanitize Mobile, Laptop, TV, Watch, Electronics, Etc
Amid growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus, Apple has updated its guidance on how to keep iPhones and other electronic devices clean and free of germs, telling users that it is indeed safe to use alcohol to wipe the product’s screen and body.
This coronavirus has quickly spread around the globe and is now advancing across the U.S. Symptoms are usually mild but can be severe, especially in older adults and in people with underlying health conditions.
Studies have shown that smartphones are a breeding ground for germs and other pathogens, making it important to keep them clean. That’s certainly true for the novel coronavirus, which research suggests may survive on surfaces for hours or even days.
Prior to Apple’s updated guidance, there was palpable confusion about whether using alcohol might damage a smartphone, particularly the special “oleophobic” coating that helps prevent fingerprints from building up on the touch-screen display.
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“Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces,” Apple said.
The company recommends that you power the device down first and avoid using bleach, submerging the unit in cleaning agents, or allowing moisture to enter any opening in the shell.
“Don’t use [the wipes] on fabric or leather surfaces,” Apple adds.
In an email to Consumer Reports, a Google representative confirmed that it’s okay to use sopropyl alcohol wipes on the company’s devices (including the Pixel smartphone), without fear of causing damage. Consumer Reports has asked Samsung for similar confirmation on the use of wipes on its devices but has not yet received a response. We’ll update this article if that changes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that hand sanitizers containing at least 60 percent alcohol have been shown to be effective at eliminating germs.
Consumers who shield their phones from harm with a screen protector and/or a protective case may have an even easier way to keep the device clean: plain old soap and water.
James Dickerson, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’ chief scientific officer, says he regularly washes his smartphone case and screen cover in his sink with soap and water. And according to the CDC, soap and water are more effective at eliminating germs than alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
“So if people have those types of covers, that’s probably the best thing they can do,” he says. “They don’t have to go out and buy special sanitizers or anything like that. Just scrub it down.”
Do not, however, do that with a case that features a built-in battery for recharging on the go, he adds.
As for how often you should clean your smartphone, Dickerson says that varies based on your situation. A physician who sees patients regularly, he explains, will want to wipe down the phone several times a day. But the average consumer can do so less frequently. It all depends on how often you interact with other people.
How to Clean a Laptop
Because your laptop is mobile, it has plenty of opportunity to pick up dust and germs. Turn your laptop upside down and gently shake out the keyboard to get rid of crumbs. Grab a can of compressed air and blast the keyboard, inputs and crevices. Unplug the laptop and remove the battery.
Lightly dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth and wipe down all the surfaces. To clean the LCD screen, use a damp microfiber cloth to remove dust and smudges. For touch screens, use water or eyeglass cleaner applied to a microfiber cloth. Finish up by wiping down the keyboard with your alcohol-and-water solution.
How to Clean a Desktop PC
For your desktop monitor screen, follow the same procedure you used for your laptop screen. Use water and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the back of the monitor and the bezel around the screen. Wipe down your computer tower and wipe off the dust on your desk while you’re at it to get your home office area clean.
Shake your keyboard out over a trash can and use compressed air to get rid of the debris around and under the keys. Wipe down the keys and the rest of the keyboard and use a cotton swab to get grime out of crevices. Finish by wiping down the keyboard with a cloth and your alcohol and water solution. For your mouse, wipe it down with a damp cloth and use cotton swabs to get into crevices. Complete the job by wiping down the mouse with your sanitizing solution.
How to Safely Clean a Flat-Screen TV
While it’s tempting to grab your glass cleaner for this job, know that glass cleaners can be corrosive. Many television screens have anti-reflective coatings that are sensitive to the chemicals in most cleaners. Skip the harsh chemicals and use a microfiber cloth dampened with water to wipe down the screen and then the bezel and base. If you have any electronics like DVD players or streaming devices, wipe these down too.
Just like smartphones, remote controls can harbor germs and contain buildup from sticky, dirty hands. Remove the batteries from the remote and shake loose any debris. Blast the buttons with compressed air and get the gunk around the buttons and in crevices with a cotton swab. Wipe down all surfaces with your alcohol and water solution.
How to Clean Bluetooth and Smart Devices
Smart appliances and Bluetooth speakers collect dust and germs like all other high-tough items. Unplug devices or take the batteries out before you clean them. For devices with screens, wipe down the screen with a damp microfiber cloth. Fabric-covered parts, plastic and other surfaces can be cleaned with the same cloth. For grooves and crevices, compressed air and cotton swabs should get out any debris. Finish up by wiping down everything except the screen with your sanitizer solution.
How to Clean a Game Console and Controllers
Game consoles, and especially controllers, can get grimy, greasy and dirty from hours of gaming and snacking. Unplug the console and disconnect the controllers before you start cleaning. Spray the cutouts and inputs with compressed air and dust everything with a soft bristle brush. Wipe down all surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth and use cotton swabs to get into crevices.
For controllers, dampen a cloth with your alcohol and water solution. Wipe down the controller and cord thoroughly. Use a cotton swab with the same sanitizing solution and get into the grooves and all around the buttons. Make sure everything is dry before you reconnect the controllers and plug in your console.
How to Clean Fitness Trackers and Smartwatches
Your fitness tracker and smartwatch are subjected to sweat and the bacteria from your hands. Use a microfiber cloth dampened with water to wipe off the screen and casing. You can get into any crevices with a small soft-bristled brush and use your sanitizing solution for buttons. It’s best to remove really dirty bands if they need a thorough cleaning.
Nylon bands are prone to absorbing sweat, so use a dab of dish detergent and a damp cloth to wipe them down frequently. For silicone bands, wipe them down with a small amount of rubbing alcohol to remove dirt and germs. Metal bands should be wiped with a dry, lint-free cloth. If the metal is especially dirty, use a damp cloth and dry thoroughly. Leather bands can be wiped down with water and a microfiber cloth followed by a leather conditioner.
How to Clean Headphones and Earphones
Your headphones and earphones can be handled as frequently as a smartphone, so in addition to germs and bacteria, you’re dealing with sweat and earwax. Disconnect your headphones or earphones before cleaning them. For earphones with removable tips, take the tips off and clean them with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Use a water-dampened microfiber cloth to wipe down the rest of the earphones and the cord. Make sure the tips are dry before putting them back on the earphones.
For headphones, a microfiber cloth and water will get rid of any buildup. Wipe down the surfaces of the headphones and the cord. For crevices and grooves, a small soft-bristled brush will get the dust out. Bluetooth headphones or earphones should only be cleaned with a dry cloth to prevent damage to the electronics inside.
Now that you know how to clean and sanitize your electronics, make keeping them that way a routine task. Your electronic devices will be shiny and clean and using them will be a healthier experience