10 Home Electronics You Never Clean—But Really Should

Your house is crowded with electronic devices like TVs, laptops, and tablets that make your life easier, more productive, and more fun. Show them a little love—and keep everyone healthier—by keeping them clean. Here's how.

Keep It Clean

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How to clean electronics

Home electronics occupy a prominent place in our daily lives. We touch them repeatedly, share them with other family members, and leave them out to collect dust and grime, and yet we don't generally include them in our regular cleaning routine—and that's a big mistake. As important as it is to keep your hands clean, it's just as important to keep your electronics clean so they don't become reservoirs for germs. Read on to learn some quick-clean tricks for common home electronics that will get your devices germ- and dust-free.

An important note before before you grab your cleaning supplies: Unlike other items in your home, your electronic devices are coated with special finishes and contain electrical components that may be sensitive to harsh cleaners and abrasives. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before you try to clean a device to ensure that you don't damage it in the process.

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Cellphones and Tablets

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How to clean cell phones

It’s not just a dirty rumor: Every square inch of your cellphone is covered with roughly 25,127 bacteria. That’s more bacteria than are found on a public doorknob. Fight back by keeping your cellphones and tablets clean with a regular wipe down. While you can purchase specialty cleaning fluid or UV lights to disinfect your screens, it’s easier to dampen a microfiber cloth with a mix of 60 percent water and 40 percent isopropyl alcohol, and wipe down your screens daily. Microfiber cloths are best because they will not scratch surfaces. Be sure to power down your phone or tablet prior to cleaning just in case there’s a spill.

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Computers and Laptops

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How to clean laptop

You don't touch your computer or laptop screen as often as you touch your cellphone, but those screens can still collect fingerprints and dust. To clean the monitors, power down your computer or laptop, then mix a drop of dish soap into a few cups of warm water. Dip a microfiber cloth into the mix, and squeeze out the excess water. Wipe down the screens to remove any smudges and dirt, then rinse out the cloth with clean water and wipe down again. Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove any lingering drops of moisture and eliminate streaks. 

If you're cleaning a desktop computer, pay special attention to the computer tower. The tower has vents to expel hot air and keep the system cool. These vents often get clogged with dust, which may affect how the computer runs. Use a vacuum or dusting cloth to clean off the vents, and then wipe down the tower with a damp microfiber cloth. If you see a lot of dust inside the tower, you may need to open the case so you can clean off the dust. If you'd rather not remove the cover, you can schedule a professional cleaning service for your computer. Dust your computer tower weekly, and give it a wipe down once a month.

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Keyboard and Mouse

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How to clean keyboard and mouse

Researchers from the University of Arizona found that an office desktop can harbor 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and plenty of those bacteria settle on the keyboard and computer mouse. Because the keyboard and mouse are touched so frequently, they should be cleaned regularly to keep germs at bay.

To clean the keyboard, first disconnect it from the power source. Use a can of compressed air to remove dust and debris from the crevices between the keys. Lightly dab a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and clean each of the keys using a light circular motion, then dry them off with a microfiber cloth. Clean the mouse by spraying it with rubbing alcohol and wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Clean your keyboard and mouse weekly, and after each use if you have a cold.

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Printer

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How to clean printer

Home printers may not get as germy as other electronics, but they do get dusty. To keep your printer in good working order, dust it off as part of your cleaning routine. Most printers have a cleaning function that takes care of the ink nozzles, so you probably don't have to mess with them. But it's a good idea to use a can of compressed air or a small handheld vacuum cleaner to remove any dust that builds up inside the printer. To take care of dirt, fingerprints, and ink smudges on the outside of the printer, wipe it down with a soft cloth moistened in water. Try to dust your printer weekly and wipe it down monthly.

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Headphones and Earphones

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How to clean headphones

Headphones and earphones make direct contact with your skin. Over time, they can become coated in sweat and wax as well as dust and dirt. For over-the-ear headphones, it is best to wipe them with a microfiber cloth dampened with a little water and soap, and then let them air-dry. 

Earphones that don't have ear tips that go inside your ear canal should be cleaned only with a dry microfiber cloth (no moisture or cleaning solution). Remove buildups of wax or dust by dabbing adhesive putty into the gunky areas. If the earphones have rubber coverings over the speaker, remove them and wipe them down separately. You should clean headphones and earphones weekly.

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Flat-Screen TVs and Remote Controls

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How to clean TV screen

Clean television screens in the same manner as laptop or computer screens: Wipe them down with a microfiber cloth dipped into warm water mixed with a drop of dish soap. Cleaning the remote control, however, takes a little more work. Start by opening the back of the remote and removing the batteries. Gently shake the remote to loosen any crumbs, then use compressed air to remove any lingering debris from the crevices between the buttons. Then, dip a microfiber cloth in a 60 to 70 percent solution of rubbing alcohol and wipe down the surface. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean around the buttons. Let the remote air-dry, then replace the  batteries. Clean TV screens and remotes weekly, but if someone in the house is sick, clean the remote every day.

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Smart Speaker

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How to clean smart home device

Smart speakers like Amazon Echos and Google Home devices are easy to clean with a damp microfiber cloth. If your device has a screen, clean it just as you would a computer screen. Smart speakers should be cleaned weekly.

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Game Consoles and Controllers

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How to clean game consoles

Game consoles and their controllers need to be cleaned often to keep germs under control and to function effectively. Clean the controllers in the same manner as a remote control, and clean the console as you would a computer tower. Do not, however, open the console to clean it; leave that to the professionals. Dust consoles and wipe off controllers weekly, but if you or someone else in your household is sick, clean controllers after every use.

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Modems and Routers

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How to clean modems

Most of us do not even think about these essential boxes until they stop working. They are often tucked in a corner, out of sight, and those that live on the floor get coated with dust and pet hair. Like computer towers, these boxes have vents to help release the heat they generate. Give your router or modem a weekly dusting and a wipe down with a dry microfiber cloth at least once a month to keep it in good working condition.

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Streaming Devices

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How to clean streaming devices

Those cunning little devices that bring you all the joys of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more often get ignored during cleaning. But though they may be inconspicuous, they do get dusty. The good news is, it doesn’t take much work to clean them. Just a simple wipe down when you're cleaning the TV will keep them in good condition.

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Disinfect Your Devices

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Disinfect Your Devices

It's easy to clean your electronics when you know how.

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