Claire Benoist for Reader's Digest
Take a look at your mobile device. Do you see oily fingerprints and lint? Dust and crumbs? Is that a hair stuck at the screen’s edge?
Don’t freak out, but your phone screen is way dirtier than you might think. Let’s face it; we take our electronics into public restrooms, hand them to runny-nosed toddlers, pass them around to share photos, and press them against sweaty skin in gyms. Repeated studies show that what accumulates is germy nastiness worse than what is on the bottom of your shoe. Like your toothbrush, “your mobile device is something you want to clean regularly,” says Dubert Guerrero, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota. And probably not something you want to pass around the table.
For Basic Sanitation
Cleaning your device can be tricky because you don’t want to damage it and manufacturers don’t give you much guidance. It can be done, however, if you’re conscientious. Health experts advise wiping it down with a moist microfiber cloth at least daily, which is sufficient to eliminate fingerprints and dust. Bacteria like clostridium difficile (which can cause diarrhea and inflammation of the colon) and flu viruses may require a sterilizing agent like bleach or alcohol.
This is a problem, since Apple officially warns against using “window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives” to clean its products.
Nevertheless, disinfectant wipes made for electronics are great at cleaning grime. But it’s far cheaper to make your own solution. To clean his mobile devices, Derek Meister, a technician for Best Buy’s repair and online support service, uses a one-to-one ratio of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, which together cost less than $4 at most stores.
Fill a spray bottle with the diluted alcohol, lightly moisten a lint-free cloth, preferably microfiber (no paper towels), and gently wipe down the screen and case. Never spray directly onto the device. To clean corners and around ports, use lint-free foam swabs rather than cotton swabs.
To Keep It Looking New
Using a can of compressed air to blow around ports and between keys will help maintain the look, performance, and resale value when it’s time to upgrade. This gets rid of dust and particles that can infiltrate and damage electronics. Another option is to buy a specialized air compressor like the DataVac Electric Duster, which lists for $100 and comes with all sorts of little attachments for cleaning out your device’s crevices and seams.
“An air compressor gets things really clean,” says Miroslav Djuric, former chief information architect at ifixit.com, an online do-it-yourself community.