The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the way we think about the things we touch. People are now washing their hands like crazy and wiping down their groceries with Clorox wipes.
However, when it comes to electronics like phones, tablets, and computers, disinfecting them properly can be tricky. You can’t just use soap and water or bleach to sanitize your devices, otherwise you could end up ruining them and need an emergency computer repair.
When you think about it, you’re often touching your technology for a good part of the day. Germs can be transferred to keypads, mobile screens, and mice quite easily, making it important to keep them clean and disinfect them regularly.
How long can COVID-19 live on electronic surfaces, like smartphones?
COVID-19 can live on surfaces like screens and keyboards for up to 4 days.
Do’s and Don’ts for Sanitizing Devices
There are some rules of thumb to use when cleaning and sanitizing electronic devices. Once you learn these, you can apply these cleaning rules to any of your electronics (laptop keypads, computer mouse, phone/tablet screen, wearables, etc.).
Do Unplug & Power Down Devices First
It’s important to unplug and power down your devices before you start any cleaning or disinfecting process. This is true when cleaning to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or any other time you’re cleaning your electronics.
Don’t Use Water or Bleach
Water and electronics are not a good mix, so you definitely do not want to go the soap and water route when it comes to your electronics.
While bleach may be popular for other surfaces like kitchen counters, it’s very dangerous to use bleach on electronics. Bleach is highly corrosive and can harm your devices.
Do Use 70% or Higher Isopropyl Alcohol or Wipes
To kill the coronavirus, it’s recommended to use at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. This can be administered with a microfiber cloth or in a cleaning wipe.
Alcohol is the best way to disinfect devices because it evaporates very fast, eliminating the moisture issues you can get with water or non-alcohol cleaning products.
Note for users of Apple products: Apple says it’s okay to use Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of Apple products, like displays, keyboards, and other exterior surfaces.
Don’t Submerge Devices in Cleaning Agents
While it may be tempting to just stick your iPhone in a bowl of disinfecting agent, that’s a good way to cause it major issues. Apple specifically warns against this, and it’s not good for any device, Android, Windows, or for computer mice either.
Do Use Compressed Air in Crevices
While compressed air isn’t a disinfectant, it’s still a good idea to use it to clear out any dust or dirt from keyboards, mouse wheels, and any other electronic crevices before you begin the disinfecting.
Don’t Use Paper Towels or Abrasive Cloths/Towels
Using paper towels or other types of towels or cloths that are rough can easily cause you to scratch a screen. A cloth with a rough surface also could end up applying the alcohol cleaner in an uneven manner, causing you to miss spots of your devices.
Do Use a Clean Microfiber Cloth
Microfiber cloths are designed to be gentle to screens and not scratch them.This is why they’re also recommended for cleaning eyeglasses.
These cloths are also made to absorb and remove things like oil, dust, and dirt without leaving lint behind.
To use, you should put the 70% isopropyl alcohol solution on the cloth, then use the cloth to clean the device surface.
For keyboards, look for microfiber swabs that make it easier to clean small areas gently.
Don’t Rub Too Hard
You don’t want to harm your screens by rubbing too hard. This can be especially dangerous for laptop screens. Instead, if there is a smudge you’re trying to remove, use a gentle circular motion, not a back and forth scrubbing motion.
Do Allow Surfaces to Dry for 30 Seconds Before Wiping
If you’re wiping your surfaces with another clean microfiber cloth after you apply the cleaning wipe or alcohol solution, allow them to dry for 30 seconds first. This is recommended to ensure they’re properly sanitized.
Don’t Leave Tablets & Phones in Cases When Cleaning
To do a thorough disinfecting of your devices, take tablets and smartphones out of their case, then carefully clean both the device and the case separately. Allow both to fully dry before putting cases back in place.
Do Wash Your Hands & Dry Them First
You don’t want to go through the effort of sanitizing your devices only to be contaminating them as you do it because your hands weren’t washed first. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer first. Then make sure they’re completely dry so you don’t accidently get moisture from wet hands on your devices.
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