cleaning

Find out how to clean your cell phone and other dirty gadgets

April 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM ET

Video: TODAY’s digital expert, Mario Armstrong, gives viewers advice on how to do some spring cleaning on your keyboards and remote controls.

Spring cleaning in today’s age doesn’t only apply to bathrooms, closets and kitchens. It also means giving those tech gadgets a good scrub.

A study by Stanford University students found that cell phones are 18 times dirtier than toilet handles. Inspired but those ikcy numbers, TODAY’s digital lifestyle contributor Mario Armstrong stopped by Studio 1A to show how to give electronics a good cleaning. 

In general

Armstrong has four overall rules when it comes to tackling those devices. First, make sure they are powered down, unplugged or that the batteries have been removed. Second, make sure to never use products that contain harsh chemicals, like ammonia, as they can ruin the special coatings on many screens. 

Next, never use disinfecting wipes for anything except for a keyboard or TV remote. Finally, never spray any liquid directly onto the device. Instead, spray liquid onto a soft cloth, then wipe the device with the cloth.

TV screens

When cleaning a flat-screen TV, Armstrong advises skipping the household cleaners. Glass, plasma and LCD TVs have special coatings on their surface that can be damaged by such products. Instead, clean TVs with a soft, dry, microfiber cloth.

For tough smudges, purchase special screen wipes and cleaning solutions that are found at office-supply stores, as those products are specifically designed to clean flat screens.

If the TV has food splatters or sticky hand prints, read through the TV’s manual to see what cleaning is recommended for your particular unit. Every TV is different, so it’s imperative to read through the manual in these situations.

Computer monitors, laptop screens, tablet screens, eBooks

Computer monitors often have a thin layer of dust scattered across the surface, which can easily be removed with a soft, dry cloth, such as cotton or microfiber. If anything more than a dry wipe is needed, Armstrong recommends using a little bit of purified water (tap water may have minerals that can damage the screen), but make sure to skip harsh chemicals.

Keyboard

Keyboards are a hot spot for dust, food crumbs and hair. Fortunately, Armstrong recommends a variety of approaches for cleaning it off. A can of compressed air will blow dirt from in between the keys, while a soft brush can loosen stuck-on grime. For the keys themselves, wipe them down with cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl.

Another option is to use a washable keyboard, such as Logitech’s Washable Keyboard K310 ($30.95). Capable of being soaked, the piece is ideal for dusty work places.

Armstrong also suggests using a keyboard slipcover, like KB Clear Ice Keyboard Covers for Macbook ($19.33), which protects the keyboard from getting dirty during use. 

Mouse

Many spend hours every day with their hand on the computer mouse, so that little gadget is a magnet for germs. If using a mechanical mouse, Armstrong recommends removing the ball and wiping it with a soft cloth. Then wipe down the rest of the mouse with a damp, soft cloth and cotton swab for tough-to-reach spots.

For an optical mouse, simply wipe it down with a soft cloth.

Headphones and ear buds

Both headphones and ear buds are big collectors of dirt and wax, so be sure to give your pair a little TLC. For headphones, mix a small amount of dish soap into water, then dampen a towel with the solution and wipe the headphones. For ear buds, apply isopropyl alcohol with a cotton swab.

Mobile phones

If any electronic needs a good cleaning, it’s the phone, which is covered with your fingerprints—and possibly your child’s. To clean, dampen a soft cloth with water and wipe it down, or use a disposable wipe made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone.

Remote control

Like the phone, the TV remote should be frequently cleaned with a soft towel, dampened with water. Don’t forget to use that cotton swab to reach dirt and dust hiding in between buttons. 

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