Five electronics to disinfect regularly

January 27, 2020

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We know how important it is to wash our hands to prevent the spread of disease, but what about those devices that become extensions of our hands—our phones, tablets, keyboards and other electronics we just can't live (or work) without? Studies show that your cell phone may carry up to 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat—more than enough reason to warrant a frequent washing.

Although “washing” electronics isn't quite as easy as washing your hands, there are some easy ways to regularly clean your electronics. Always check the manufacturer's website or the device's manual to learn what's safe to use on your particular device to avoid damaging it. When in doubt, use gentle cleaning solutions or wipes intended for electronics.

Here are five devices to add to your regular cleaning schedule:

  • Phones and tablets: Remove the device from its case. If it's plastic or rubber, wash the case in warm soapy water, dry with a paper towel and allow to continue air drying in all the nooks and crannies while you clean your device. Wipe down the back and sides of your phone or tablet with a disinfectant wipe or rubbing alcohol diluted in water on a soft cloth (avoid wipes with bleach). Take care not to get drips of liquid around the buttons, speakers and charging port. Do not use cleaners directly on the screens. If your screen protector is damaged or peeling off, this is a good time to replace it with a clean one.
  • Keyboard and mouse: Unplug your keyboard from your computer or turn off and unplug your laptop completely. Using a can of compressed air, remove debris between the keys. Use a well-wrung disinfectant wipe gently over the tops of the keys (avoid wipes with bleach). You can also use a cotton swap or cotton ball with a bit of rubbing alcohol on the tops of the keys and edges of the keyboard, taking care not to allow liquid to drip down under the keys. After unplugging, wipe your mouse with disinfectant wipes. Make sure you get the bottom too!
  • Car key and key fob: Gently wipe your car key and key fob with disinfectant wipes or a water and rubbing alcohol mixture on a soft cloth.
  • Work phone/landline: Wipe down your phone at work with disinfectant wipes, especially the handset and buttons. If you use a Bluetooth headset, make sure you wipe the plastic parts too! If your headset has removeable pads for the ears, it may be time to replace them. If you work at a shared workstation, it's important to disinfect the phone each time you leave for the day.
  • Wearables: Since wearables are usually intended to be in close contact with your body during physical activity, it's important to clean them often. Clean most wearables with disinfectant wipes or diluted rubbing alcohol. Make sure to wipe them dry completely before charging or wearing. For smart watches and fitness trackers worn on the wrist, regularly wash the detached rubber wrist band with warm, soapy water, especially after working out. For headphones and earbuds, check the manufacturer's website for recommended cleaning methods.

Keeping germs at bay while traveling

Traveling? Keep a pack of electronic-safe disinfectant wipes in your carry-on bag, and check out these tips to avoid a cold while flying.