Gadgets are an increasing part of our everyday lives, and this is a trend that’s been going on since before the turn of the century. Few people don’t own computers, televisions and portable devices such as handheld gaming machines or smartphones/tablets. These devices have made us all closer and more connected than we have ever been before.
But, the problem with gadgets, like anything else, is that with enough use and handling, they get dirty. Between dust being ground in by moving parts on some, simple dust build up from exposure for others, and even oils from our skin on touch screens, there isn’t a device out there that doesn’t need a good cleaning now and then.
So, how do you clean these devices? They’re delicate and often expensive, and cleaning them the wrong way can prove disastrous. But, we can take heart that there are simple solutions for how to properly clean your gadgets.
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Peripherals are one of the first things to stop behaving properly due to “gunk” building up in moving parts. Mouse, keyboard and controllers are the most notorious of such devices. As we press buttons, or roll the mouse along on pads, debris builds up inside them, making them quickly lose their functionality and responsiveness upon which we rely. When a mouse doesn’t move the cursor properly, or a button doesn’t send the right input, we can almost feel it, like a limb being asleep.
Cleaning your Mouse
Mouse are the easiest ones to clean. Of the two basic types of mouse, optical ones are the easiest. It uses a laser, to see the surface beneath them moving. Over time, the lens on these can become smudged or dusty. To remedy this, simply take a cotton swab, and some isopropyl alcohol. Gently dab a tiny bit of the isopropyl on the eye of the mouse with one end of the swab, and use the other, dry end to wipe it away. Allow the residue to evaporate for about 45 seconds, and it should be good as new. It’s also worth noting that the USB connector portions of these devices can also be cleaned with this manner, but when cleaning USB plugs, let them dry for no less than 20 minutes before use!
For mechanical mouse (I’m not sure if it’s still being used), it’s not much worse. Notice the ball that rolls beneath the mouse? There’s a ring around this, which can be twisted to come off. Gently remove the ball from the mouse, and look inside. You will see two rotating rods and a wheel, which the ball moves. Likely, a lot of compressed dirt has built up on them, and can be removed firmly with the same cotton swab and alcohol method. However, if it is impacted too much, gently applying a pen knife will remove the remaining debris. It may be a good idea to rinse the ball as well, before reassembling it. Allow it to dry for 2 minutes before resuming use.
Cleaning your Keyboard
Keyboards are a bit more challenging, though not much. Most modern keyboards, the keys can be individually removed. Before doing so, turn the keyboard upside down, and give it a hearty shaking. You will notice quite a bit of dirt falling from it. After this, you can take either a small flat head screw driver, or a tiny dull knife, or a specialized keycap puller from Kinetic Labs to gently pry the keys off the keyboard. Afterwards, get another cotton swab and some alcohol and gently clean the area around the key’s slot, and inside it. Also, clean the key itself. The plastic key is safe to immerse in alcohol. Allow the keys and the keyboard itself to dry for ten minutes before reassembling it and plugging it back in. It should work like new!
Cleaning your Controllers
Controllers, such as game pads or console controllers are not so easy. If you’re not inclined to disassembly/reassembly of electronic components, then, sadly, you’re better off just replacing them usually. If you feel confident in doing this though, simply disassemble the controller and clean the rubber layers between the buttons and the circuit board with peroxide or alcohol. Use a swab on the circuit board itself, where the rubber presses down. Let it dry for about seven minutes, and then reassemble it. It should work just fine.
Cleaning your Touch Screen Gadgets
Touch screen gadgets such as tablets and smartphones require a gentler touch than your typical peripheral. Touch screens and displays often get oils, dust and other contaminants on them as they are used. As unappealing as it is to point out, some of it is from breathing, sneezing and coughing in the direction of displays as well.
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For displays, power down and unplug them first, just as a safety precaution. Now, there are two basic types of flat screen surfaces – soft and solid. To detect which one you have, press gently on the screen surface. If it causes a ripple effect, it is a soft surface. Otherwise, it is a solid.
For soft surface displays, do not use isopropyl. You need glass cleaner, any brand, which is blue. Along with it, use a piece of terrycloth, or an eye glass cleaning cloth. Other cloths can leave more oils and streaks than they remove. Do not spray the glass cleaner directly onto the screen, as it can in some instances get behind the outer layer and leave permanent stains. Spray a healthy amount on the terrycloth, and then wipe the surface in firm yet gentle circular motions. Use a dry part of the cloth to wipe away the remaining moisture. Allow the screen to dry for two minutes before turning it back on.
For solid surface displays, the blue glass cleaner works too, but you can spray it directly on the screen, and use a freshly-laundered towel to wipe it clean. These are far easier to clean than soft surface displays.
Now, using either blue glass cleaner, or isopropyl alcohol, gently dab some onto the screens with terrycloth or cotton balls. Gently rub the screen in circles and then in horizontal zigzag motions. Wipe the remaining moisture away, and let it dry for two minutes before reinserting the battery.
Mobile devices require more care. Before cleaning the surface of your tablet, handheld game device or smartphone, remove its battery. It’s unlikely that moisture will get in, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
[Read also: How to Protect and Extend your Gadget’s Battery Life]
So, it turns out that cleaning your favorite gadgets isn’t terribly difficult after all! While using some things like screen protectors, and compressed duster air go a long way to reducing the need for frequent cleanings, when it all comes down to it, common household cleaners do the job. Just remember to always unplug your devices or remove their batteries before you clean them, and always be gentle. Your gadgets are your friends, and as such, if you take care of your friends, they will take care of you for a long, long time.
How often do you clean your gadgets? How do you clean them? Tell us in the comments.