How to clean your phones and devices properly without ruining them

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We spend a lot time using devices like our smartphones and they can be hotbeds for germs and bacteria. While it is important to clean them regularly to remove these disease-causing microbes, you need to do it with care as the wrong cleaning method may cause your expensive device to malfunction.

Here's a guide on how to clean your electronic devices the proper way.

PHOTO: Pexels

SMARTPHONES AND TABLET NOTEBOOKS

Hands up if you have used your mobile phones or tablets in the bathroom. Considering how rarely you clean your smart devices, your gadgets might actually be harbouring even more vile bacteria than the toilet seat!

DO:

  • Use a microfibre cloth to wipe away sweat and grease regularly.
  • Do a thorough clean inside the phone too. Just make sure you switch it off and remove the battery and SIM card first.
  • To disinfect, prepare a solution of 1 cup water and a few drops of vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Use that wipe the outside of the phone. For hard-to-reach corners, dip a cotton bud in this cleaning solution.
  • If you have silicone phone or tablet covers, take them off and soak in warm, soapy water. Otherwise, give your plastic cases a good wipe down with the cleaning solution.
  • When you're done with cleaning, leave the phone to dry completely before turning it on again.

DON'T:

  • Don't spray cleaning solutions directly on the screen, as droplets may get into the speaker or microphone and damage those parts. Dab the cleaning solution on a piece of cloth and use that to clean instead.
  • Don't use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. Your electronic devices have a lot of sensitive components that could be easily damaged by the heat.
  • How often: Wipe the screen every other day. Do a deep-cleaning every one or two weeks.
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SMART WATCHES

Just like your smartphone, the screen of your smart watch and its nooks and crannies pick up grease, skin and grime every time you use it. In addition, the watch strap collects sweat and dead skin - even more if you're using your smart watch when you exercise.

DO:

  • Switch the watch off before cleaning, and allow to dry thoroughly before turning it back on.
  • Dilute soap in tepid water, and apply that on a microfibre cloth to wipe your smart watch. For waterproof watches, you can give it a quick soak in the cleaning solution.
  • Clean the straps vigorously with a damp cloth, as they collect a lot of dirt and mildew.

DON'T:

  • Even if your smart watch is waterproof, the strap may not be water resistant. If you're not sure, err on the side of error and avoid soaking your smart watch.

How often: As often as you can, especially if you wear it every day or very frequently.

PHOTO: Pexels

CAMERAS

Nothing is more annoying than shooting what you believe to be great photos, only to realise that the lens was dirty. And that's not the only reason to regularly clean your camera - we continuously touch it and also pass it to other people to show them photos, making it an easy transit station for bacteria.

DO:

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe the body.
  • Remove the battery and memory card, then use a soft brush to tackle dust or dirt that might be trapped inside these slots. You can use a clean makeup brush too.
  • Even if your lens is smudged, don't use a cloth to wipe it, as that might scratch your expensive lens. Head to a camera shop and purchase a lens pen instead.

DON'T:

  • Don't use detergents on your camera as the cleaning compounds may be too harsh.
  • Don't try to clean the sensor in a DSLR yourself, as that is a very sensitive component. If there is a stubborn piece of dirt lodged on the sensor, take your camera to a camera shop for expert help.

How often: Clean your camera after every major use to prevent dust and dirt from building up inside.

PHOTO: Pexels

EARPHONES

Constantly wearing earphones or headphones can lead to acne breakouts and skin infections. This happens because the sweat and moisture collected around the earphones encourages bacteria to multiply.

DO:

  • Use a cloth dipped in soapy water to wipe the earphones or headphones. Make-up removal tissues are a convenient alternative too.
  • Remove silicone ear buds, then use a dry, old toothbrush to gently clean out dust and dirt from the metal parts.

DON'T:

Don't share earbuds with friends, to prevent the transfer of bacteria.

How often: Clean earphones once a week, and headphones at least once a month.

LAPTOPS

No thanks to the many crevices between the keys, your keyboard likely houses all manner of dirt and bacteria, from food crumbs and drink spills, to dead skin and office germs. And every time you rub your eyes, or grab snacks with your hands right after using the keyboard, you're introducing these bacteria directly into your body.

DO:

  • Dip a microfibre cloth in cleaning solution to wipe down your screen, mouse and other flat surfaces regularly.
  • Before cleaning the keyboard, make sure your notebook is turned off. If it's a USB keyboard, make sure it is unplugged.
  • Turn the keyboard upside down and shake off particles trapped within the keys. Then, use a big soft brush (makeup brushes work well too) to dust off dirt. Even better, get a can of compressed air (Challenger stocks them) to force out the dirt in between the keys. This also works to clean the crevices inside your mouse.
  • Pay particular attention to frequently used keys, like the Enter key and your space bar.
  • Only turn on your laptop, or plug in your USB keyboard, when the keyboard is completely dry.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly to prevent the transfer of bacteria from your hands to your keyboard.

DON'T:

  • Don't try to vacuum your keyboard with a vacuum cleaner. The powerful suction force can potentially damage the components.

How often: Once a month. Or, if you have a habit of eating at your desk, every fortnight.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.

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