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There are three kinds of people in this world: Those who live with grimy and smudgy electronics because they're too scared or lazy to clean them properly, those who go for it but end up with clean and damaged electronics, and those that follow these kinds of tech cleaning lifehacks. Many people know the basic tips and tricks for cleaning most items (baking soda and vinegar science is unbelievable); but often, these usual suspects can be damaging to your technology. When it comes to fragile, valuable items like your phone and computer, you don't want to be messing around with harmful chemicals or rough materials, but you also want to keep them looking nice. Luckily, these tips and tricks make tech care easy and safe for your beloved electronics.
All-Purpose Tech Cleaning
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is primarily designed as a multi-purpose cleaner for windows, bathroom surfaces, and the like. It's good to know, though, that its not-too-harsh, yet effective, chemical makeup also makes it an extremely useful tool for cleaning certain electronics. First of all, it can work wonders on your keyboard, which often ends up with oil stains and residue from constantly being touched. You can also you a small amount to clean touch screens, which suffer from the same finger-grease issue. It's also an easy way to clean the body of your laptop, which can quickly go from shiny-silver and modern-looking, to grimy and old looking, especially if you take it with you to class, work, or elsewhere.
Cleaning Your Mac Body
Another way to make your Mac body or similar laptop body shine again is with nail polish remover. This method has been reported to be especially effective for those gross-looking palm stains that many Macbooks seem to get. You want to make sure to get a non-acetone nail polish remover, which is less harsh on your electronics, and look for something that keeps the excess ingredients to a minimum as well since some additives are great for your nails, but could leave residue on your computer. Worst case scenario, though, you can take a small amount of water and a microfiber cloth and wipe and remaining residue off.
Cleaning LCD Screens
LCD screens are very fragile. These tech cleaning lifehacks for LCD monitors are much better options than the tendency many people have to reach for the nearest tissue or paper towel and go to town.
Luckily, most LCD monitors are very easy to clean, and can it can be done with just a microfiber cloth or coffee filter. A tiny bit of filtered or distilled water on the cloth can ease the process, but make sure to put it on the cloth, not directly on the screen. If that still fails, you can use a small amount of white vinegar mixed with distilled water, which should easily wipe off any remaining smudges or spots without damaging your tech or leaving residue.
Cleaning Fragile Screens
As briefly mentioned, it's a very bad idea to use any kind of paper material or rough cloth, including paper towels, kitchen rags, or Kleenex. These can cause serious damage and may scratch your screen. Second, don't press down or try to scrub the problem areas out, as this will also cause damage. The best thing to use is a microfiber cloth, which actually comes with most LCD screen-based technologies. I've made use of by glasses cleaner cloth as well, and you can easily buy those at any drugstore or grocery store. But, as a more traditional tech cleaning lifehack, you can also use coffee filters to clean your screens, as they won't scratch like other paper-based products or towels.
Cleaning Touch Screens
Luckily, touch screens are a bit less finnicky than LCD screens. After all, they're designed to have people tapping and whacking away at them all day. This also means that they get very dirty and smudgy, and can be a little bit stubborn to clean. Again, a microfiber cloth or coffee filter is a very safe option for cleaning, and you can use a small amount of water or a diluted vinegar solution to get rid of just about any smudges. Just turn your screen off so you can easily find any problem spots, and lightly scrub until they're gone. Unlike LCD screens, you can press a little bit harder for stubborn smudges without damaging the screen.
Cleaning Your Laptop Keyboard
Laptop keyboards can't be detached, and so you have to be very careful, as the electronics underneath are quite fragile. If you spill some plain water on your keyboard, just turn your computer off immediately and let it evaporate over the course of a day or two before turning it back on to avoid permanent damage. If you spill something like coffee or coca cola on your keyboard though, it can be a little more tricky. Turn it off immediately, take the battery out, and turn it upside down. You may want to take it to a repair store to get it properly cleaned. This demonstrates a principle to remember when it comes to laptop keyboards: Don't introduce any liquids or chemicals besides water. Instead, you can use a compressed air duster to get in between the keys, and wipe down the top with a cloth, dampened if necessary. For the surface, you can also get rid of oil stains with a gentle cleaning product, but you want to make sure it's only enough to soak into the cloth, and won't transfer into the keyboard.
Cleaning a Detached Keyboard
Detached keyboards are much easier to clean. Many people are afraid to use the easiest tech cleaning lifehack for this purpose, but it is easy and effective: Just unplug your keyboard, and put it in the dishwasher. Once a keyboard is unplugged from any power, it's actually not very fragile at all. But if that's too extreme for you, you can also use an air duster and/or some water, or just run it under the tap for a bit to get everything off.
If your keyboard is looking old and faded, you can also give it back some of its original black luster by using a product like Back to Black a small amount of gentle shoe polish, Back to Black, or other car interior cleaning products.
Cleaning Your Mouse
There are some great tech cleaning lifehacks for mice that don't require you to dismantle your mouse (a process that can be difficult and potentially damaging to the product). Instead, most mouses can easily be cleaned with a q-tip and some water or rubbing alcohol. Just dip the q-tip lightly in whatever cleaning alcohol or water you like, and gently run it around the areas that tend to get grimy and sticky, like the center scroll or the ball on the bottom. The rest of the mouse can simply be wiped down with a gentle cloth and a bit of water.
Cleaning Your Vinyl
Cleaning CDs was easy: microfiber cloth, a little water, hope it really is just smudged and not scratched. Vinyl records, on the other hand, are a whole different story. You never want to introduce any kind of chemical to your records, as particles will clog the grooves and ruin it. Nor should you run your vinyl under water, as that can also damage it. If you don't have genuine record cleaning products (which you probably should), you should stick to dry microfiber cloths whenever possible. A small amount of isopropyl alcohol heavily diluted with water can be used sparingly for more difficult problems, but you don't want to be doing this too often, either. Often, the best cleaning tips are the simplest: don't use any unnecessary substances, and make sure you use only gentle materials like microfiber or a vinyl buddy.
Cleaning Your Trackpad
Another sensitive part of your laptop is the trackpad. In fact, it's often one of the first parts to wear out and get grimy and gross, as its used so much. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can also work wonders on the trackpad, and is safe for your electronics. It's a pretty handy all-around lifehack to keep on hand. Barring that, the simple solution to a grimy trackpad is a gentle cloth (or coffee filter!) and just a small amount of water. Just make sure when you use any kind of liquid in any of these tech cleaning lifehacks that you then use a dry cloth to wipe off any remaining moisture, to avoid further issues like streaks and residue, or even water damage. If you still need extra help, be sure to check out these more advanced gadgets for cleaning your tech to use in conjunction with any of these tips.