When was the last time you gave your computer a spring cleaning? I’m not talking about deleting old files and organizing your pictures—I mean the physical machine. You may not realize it, but your computer is actually dirtier than a toilet seat. (Here are some other everyday items that are dirtier than your toilet seat.) And if the germs aren’t incentive enough to clean it, your computer, printer, and other home office gear work better and faster if you keep them clean and dust-free. Luckily, you can clean your devices with things you already have in your home.
Before you start cleaning, make sure that all your equipment is shut off and unplugged. Then start dusting, preferably with a soft microfiber cloth. Avoid paper towels and tissues since these can scratch the monitor. For a thorough cleaning, try one of these smudge-fighting techniques.
Periodically shaking out your keyboard is a good way to get rid of the dust and debris that gathers underneath and in between the keys. But that’s just half the job. Use a baby wipe to remove the dirt, dried spills, and unspecified gunk that builds up on the keys themselves. (Here are some other extraordinary uses for baby wipes you never thought of.)
Out of glass cleaner? A strong, alcohol-based mouthwash will work as well as, or better than, glass cleaner on your computer monitor or TV screen. (Believe it or not, mouthwash has a ton of other little-known uses, too.) Apply with a damp, soft cloth and buff dry. Remember to use only on glass screens, not liquid crystal displays! The alcohol can damage the material used in LCDs. Mild all-purpose cleaner like Windex can also be used to clean the computer’s exterior.
Nail polish remover
You can keep computer keyboards clean with nail polish remover and an old toothbrush. (Here are some other things nail polish is great for.) Simply moisten the brush with remover and lightly rub the keys. Nail polish remover is also great for removing ink stains. (Don’t miss these other ways to remove ink stains.)
Mix equal parts white vinegar (although apple cider vinegar has plenty of benefits, it should be avoided in this case) and water in a bucket. (Fun fact: there are hundreds of uses for white vinegar around the house!) Dampen a clean cloth in the solution—never use a spray bottle; you don’t want to get liquid on the circuits inside—then squeeze it out as hard as you can, and start wiping. Keep a few cotton swabs on hand for getting to the buildups in tight spaces (like around the keys of your keyboard).
If you have a mouse with a removable tracking ball, use a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to clean it. First, remove the ball from underneath the mouse by twisting off the cover over it. Use a cloth, dampened with the solution and wrung out, to wipe the ball clean and to remove fingerprints and dirt from the mouse itself. Then use a moistened cotton swab to clean out the gunk and debris from inside the ball chamber (let it dry a couple of hours before reinserting the ball). (Don’t miss these other clever ways to keep tricky household objects clean.)