Protect yourself against illness by giving all of your technology a regular deep clean.

By Deanna deBara
March 12, 2020

Smartphones, AirPods, laptops, Fitbits—chances are, you have more than a few of these tech devices and use them on a daily basis. And while they can definitely make your life more convenient, if you don't clean them regularly, they can become a breeding ground for all sorts of germs, putting you at a higher risk of contracting a variety of different illnesses. Ultimately, cleaning your technology is a must if you want to protect your devices and yourself. But what, exactly, are the best ways to do so? Ahead, an expert shares safe, effective ways to clean the majority of the tech in your home.

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Related: How to Wash Your Hands Properly, According to a Doctor

Smartphones

"It's no secret that smartphones carry more germs than a toilet seat—which makes sense because we take them everywhere we go," says Jessica Samson, the communication manager at The Maids International. "Electronic devices are magnets for dust, dirt, and grime, and these items come in contact with your face, ears, [and] mouth." To stop germs in their tracks, Samson recommends first using a microfiber cloth to wipe down the surface of the phone, which will help remove any smudge marks and topical debris. Traditional cleaning solutions (like alcohol and vinegar) can strip away some phones' coating and cause unnecessary damage, so be weary; a UV light sanitizer, like PhoneSoap, is your best bet.

If you have an iPhone, however, good, old Clorox is safe, according to Apple's new cleaning standards. "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," reads the company's cleaning guide. Avoid any aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives, which will cause damage.

Headphones

Whether you have AirPods or another type of listening device, because you're physically putting them in your ears, it's essential that you make sure your headphones are clean. The process for cleaning these will depend on how they're built, with traditional iterations being the simplest to sanitize. "For headphones, a microfiber cloth and water will get rid of any buildup," explains Samson. If your earphones have removable tips, "take the tips off and clean them with soap and water," she adds. "Rinse thoroughly [and] use a water-dampened microfiber cloth to wipe down the rest of the earphones and the cord."

If there's any dirt or debris hiding in their nooks and crannies, Samson recommends a soft-bristled brush: "For crevices and grooves, use a small soft-bristled brush to get the dirt out." But what if your headphones are more high tech? "Bluetooth headphones or earphones should only be cleaned with a dry cloth to prevent damage to the electronics inside," she warns.

High-Tech Watches

Wear your tech on your wrist? If so, you'll want to keep yours clean. Samson recommends using a microfiber cloth slightly dampened with water to wipe off the screen and casing and a soft-bristled brush to gently remove any dirt in the buttons or grooves of the piece. Keeping the band of your watch clean is also important—and the best way to do that is dependent on its material.

"Nylon bands absorb sweat, so use a dab of dish detergent and a damp cloth to wipe them down frequently," says Samson. "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. Leather bands can be wiped down with water and a microfiber cloth followed by a leather conditioner." Just make sure to remove the wristlet before cleaning to avoid damaging the actual watch.

Laptop

First things first: Give your laptop a gentle shake to get rid of any loose dirt or debris. Then, use compressed air and a cotton swab to gently remove any dirt from the keyboard and any other hard-to-reach crevices. Once you've tackled the keyboard, it's time to clean the screen of your computer. "For LCD screens, use a damp microfiber cloth to remove dust and fingerprints," says Samson. "For touch screens, use water or eyeglass cleaner to clean away any [smudges]." Just don't spray any cleaning solutions directly on your laptop; instead, spray it onto the cloth first.

As for your computer's exterior? Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water. Dip your cloth into the solution, ring out any excess water, and wipe down the top and bottom. Then, rinse the cloth and go back over the device to remove any soap remnants. Finally, swipe the computer's exterior one last time with a dry towel to remove any moisture. If you also have a mouse, clean it with a "damp cloth and use cotton swabs to get into crevices," says Samson. "Complete the job by wiping down the mouse with your sanitizing solution."

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