Like so many things in our home, electronics are sitting magnets for dust and grime. Here's how to clean your electronics without wrecking them
No matter how much cash you spend on the latest and greatest tech gadget, it will be wasted money if you don't take a few minutes to clean it properly. Dust, given the opportunity to settle and accumulate, can block vital components within electronics. A busted fan, for instance, could cause an electronic device to overheat and ultimately die.
Likewise, using the wrong cleaning solutions and methods can render your favorite gadget useless.
Fight dirt and grime with these easy, safe cleaning tricks for your electronic products.
SUPPLIES TO CLEAN ELECTRONICS
- Electrostatic cloths (Swiffer, Pledge Dry Cloths, etc.):
These dusters are typically made of finely woven synthetic fibers with tiny "hairs" that create a magnetic charge and pull dust particles.
- Microfiber cloths:
Unlike paper towels or rags, microfiber cloths
easily trap dust between their fibers instead of spreading more dust and lint. Bonus: Unlike wood-source products like napkins and paper towels, these cloths won't scratch sensitive surfaces and can be washed up to 500 times.
- Compressed air:
Sold in a can, compressed air is perfect for blasting dust and dirt between keyboard keys and other tight crevices.
- iKlear wipes and sprays: Smudge-busting (and anti-bacterial!) products
made for Mac products, but work well on all electronic devices, including LCD screens and touchscreens.
- Other supplies to keep handy:
Foam cotton swabs (these won't leave lint behind), water ,and isopropyl alcohol
HOW TO CLEAN CELL PHONES
Cell phones are 18 times dirtier than toilet handles
, according to a study by Standford University students. That's some pretty disgusting stuff. Follow these tips to clean grime build-up on your phone or mp3 player.
- Wipe it down and kill the bacteria.
Dampen a soft cloth with a 60/40 mixture of water and alcohol on keyboards, buttons and solid parts of the device. Do not use this solution or household cleaners on touchscreens. Instead, use a damp water cloth or pre-moistened electronics cleaning wipes
to clean these types of sensitive screens. Use a Q-tip to reach tiny crevices and hard-to-reach areas.
- Blast keypad dust.
Shoot a few bursts of compressed air or use a small paint brush to whisk away dust and dirt that cause keypad numbers and trackballs to stick.
- Battle earwax buildup.
Dirt and earwax settling in earphones can lead to a reduce in sound quality. If the covers are removable, pop them off and soak them for about 30 minutes in a bowl of hot water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Rinse and dry before putting them back in place. Use an alcohol-dipped swab to go over one-piece headphones.
Don't feel like scrubbing the grime away? Go high-tech and use the UV Cell Phone Sanitizer
(VIOlight, $50), which wipes your device clean
HOW TO CLEAN A FLAT SCREEN TV
Spending cash on a glitzy TV -- only to watch it through a cake of dust and fingerprints -- isn't our idea of money well spent. While a flat screen TV
looks like any other pane of glass, plasma and LCD TVs (and computer monitors) have special coatings that can be damaged by household cleaners. Follow these steps to clean your TV safely:
- Wipe down the screen.
Gently dust the screen in long, horizontal strokes with a dry electrostatic dust-mop or microfiber cloth. Take care not to apply too much pressure when wiping down.
- Clean the set casing.
With a damp lint-free cloth or an electrostatic dust-mop, wipe the case, buttons, as well as the back of the TV where dust can settle in the vents.
For stubborn smudges, you can purchase special screen wipes and cleaning solutions, available at most office-supply stores. These products are specially formulated to clean flat screens and computer monitors.
HOW TO CLEAN COMPUTERS
Computers are prime static magnets for dust. Add food crumbs that always seem to find their way into tiny crevices and your computer can become a sticky mess.
- Shut it down.
Turn off the computer and unplug the mouse and all other electrical cords.
- Dust the screen.
Wipe the screen with a slightly damp microfiber or other soft, lint-free cloth. Since household cleaning solutions are too harsh for computer screens, you can also use special computer-cleaning cloths and solutions such as iKlear.
- Clean crevices.
Dip a foam swap in rubbing alcohol and rub it over speaker holes, vents and any other openings on the monitor. Wipe down the rest of the monitor exterior with the cloth.
- Dust the keyboard.
Over a trashcan, turn the keyboard upside down and shake it gently. Hold a can of compressed air upright and shoot a few bursts in and around the gaps between the keys. This will sweep away dust particles hiding under the keys. Alternatively, a paint brush can be used as well.
- Clean the keys.
Outline the edges with a clean alcohol-dipped swap. Then swipe the tops of the keys with a fresh cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.
- Tackle the mouse.
Take the damp cloth wipe down the mouse, including the bottom. Shoot a burst of compressed air underneath the casing; if it has a trackball, spin the ball a few times with your cloth or swab.
To speed up the cleaning process you can use a USB vacuum cleaner like the Dirt Devil KWIK ($30)
. It's cordless and plugs right into your computer's USB port.
HOW TO CLEAN A DVD PLAYER
In order to keep your DVD player running efficiently, make sure to dust it regularly and follow these steps:
- Dust the exterior.
Wipe the casing, buttons and knobs with a damp soft, lint-free cloth or electrostatic dust mop. Avoid household cleaners and solvents like rubbing alcohol, as these can damage the finish.
- Clean the insides.
Insert a DVD disc cleaner
, which looks like a regular disc with tiny brushes on it's surface.
- Spray the vents and openings.
Hold a can of compressed air at a 45-degree angle
from the machine and shoot a few bursts. Open the disc tray, and spray compressed air in here as well.
HOW TO CLEAN SPEAKERS
Take off the plastic or metal grilles and clean with a soft, damp cloth. If the grille is fabric you can vacuum on both sides to get rid of the dust. If the grilles are severely dirty, rinse them in warm water and let air-dry before putting them back on.
Clean gently with a damp cloth, but make sure not to let any water drip inside, as this can ruin electrical components.
Other speaker areas:
Use a dry cloth or paint brush to whisk away the dust.
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