Cleaning technology

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Article rewrite in progress

This page is designed to help you clean your devices and electronics properly.

Keyboards, phones, mice, and various electronics you touch on a day-to-day basis are hotbeds for bacteria, dust and other materials which can hinder their sanitation and operation.

Screens

Warning: There are several types of microfiber cloths. Using the wrong cloth may result in scratches.

Screens can be cleaned with a microfiber cloth and water:

  1. Turn off the screen (this makes it easier to see how dirty it is).
  2. Using a spray bottle, lightly mist a section of the cloth.
    • Don't soak the cloth. Just barely damp is enough.
    • Don't spray water directly onto the screen. If it runs to the bottom it can get inside the screen and short its electronics.
  3. Use circular motions with the cloth to clean the screen. You don't need to use any pressure. Be gentle.
  4. With all the dirt/dust/gunk removed, turn the cloth over and use the dry side of buff the screen dry, again with circular motions.
  5. Angle the screen/your head against some light to see if you missed anything.
  6. With the screen dry, turn it back on.

Desktop computers

Towers fill with dust over time. They are essentially a closed box with fan(s) blowing air out of them. Therefore air must be drawn into them aswell. Kind of like a weak vacuum cleaner.

They can be cleaned well with a can of compressed air, or moderately well with some lung power. If you have asthma or dust allergies you might want to open a window/turn a room fan on.

  1. Shutdown and turn off your computer.
  2. Unplug all it's cables and connections.
  3. Take one or more sides of your case off.
  4. Use compressed air to blow the dust out.
    • Focus on fans and heatsinks
    • Don't forget your GPU.
    • You may have dust filters inside the front of your case (where the air comes in) which may be able to be detached and cleaned.
    • If using your breath to blow out the dust, be careful of spittle coming out of your mouth, and take a break every few blows/if you start to feel light headed.
  5. Have a quick check to see if any cables have becoming dislodged during cleaning and are going to be hit by running fans.
  6. Put your case back together.
  7. Wipe down and reconnect all it's cables and connections.
  8. Turn your computer back on.

Aim to dust out your tower every six months or so. Cleaning it out before summer will keep it running cooler on hot days.

Laptops

Laptops can generally be cleaned in the same way as Computer Towers, but can be much more fiddly to disassemble and put back together again. If you don't know what you're doing it's very easy to snap off plastic clips which cannot be fixed. And for the record, some of these clips that are extremely easily broken, can ruin your computer when broken. For example, the clips holding in the laptop keyboard ribbon cable. They're too small to glue back on, too. Naturally, doing this will void your warranty, if you have one. Sometimes this will involve breaking a physical seal (such as a sticker placed over a screw hole).

If you're not confident in taking apart your laptop, some compressed air in and around the laptop's vents is still a worthwhile effort. You could also go to a random car garage with your laptop and ask if you could borrow their compressed air gun for a few seconds and blow out the vents. Make sure your laptop is off though, you don't want to fuck up the fan. Be careful not to damage anything.

Removing Stickers

Warning: Do NOT use acetone on plastic! It will radically fuck up the finish and you cannot get the shine back!

If after peeling off stickers, you're left with a sticky residue, it can be removed with WD-40 and a microfiber cloth:

  1. Spray a small section of the cloth with WD-40. You don't need much, maybe one second worth of spray.
  2. Rub the sticky area using small circles. A small amount of pressure is required, but you don't need to scrub. Let the product do the work.
  3. After 15 seconds or so of rubbing, check if there's any residue left and repeat as necessary.
  4. With the residue gone, buff off any excess WD-40 with the dry side of your cloth.
  5. Give the area a minute to fully dry and you're done.

Keyboards

Keyboard laid bare for cleaning.
Warning: Don't shake or bang your keyboard to clean it or you risk damaging it.

To properly clean a keyboard, first remove the keycaps to expose the area where the dirt and other unsanitary materials are trapped. For mechanical keyboards this is rather intuitive. Some keyboards come with a key-picker tool to help with this process but it can be done by hand and fingertip. Membrane keyboards are more difficult, and in some cases keys are very difficult to remove. If keys do not remove easily and feels as though they may snap, immediately stop and look online for how to clean your specific keyboard model and especially video demonstrations.

Be careful on special keys like shift, backspace and especially the spacebar. Sometimes these keys are attached in special ways unlike the other keys due to their size. If this is the case then take extra care when removing them, or skip them. Removing the surrounding keys may be sufficient.

Once the board is laid bare there are several cleaning methods. A mini-vacuum cleaner may be useful. There are also special gels designed to pick up stray material.

Mice

Tip: If you are still using a mechanical mouse with a trackball, considering replacing it with an optical/laser mouse. You won't have to worry about cleaning the trackball and its compartment.

Mice can be rubbed down with a dry microfiber cloth.

Debris may accumulate in the space between the buttons, making it harder to click. Toothpicks can be used to scrape away this gunk.

Stuff can actually get stuck inside the mouse (e.g. hair that falls down the gaps next to the scroll wheel), and that can also cause problems. However the only way to fix this is to disassemble the mouse which entails removing the soft pads at the bottom. This will damage the pads and they will have to be replaced.

Mouse pads

There are two types of mouse pads, hard and soft.

Soft mouse pads are the most common. One thing to note about soft pads, is that cleaning them can alter their texture/feel. To clean them you just need to use soap and shampoo (some shampoos ruin mousemats, so don't use anything too stylish/extreme), and give them a good bath. Give it a good brush down with a brush or clean rag while soaked. You can put it in the washing machine, however this may (and often does) ruin the seams of pads.

Hard pads are less common but much easier to clean. Get it wet, rub it with soap, and then rub it down with a brush or clean rag.

Desks and Tables

A microfiber cloth and some lightly misted water will clean most dust and dirt from your desk. Be sure to remove everything off the desk first. For anything sticky or stuck, scrape it with a putty knife, razor blade, or anything that can be used similarly.

While there's nothing on the desk it's a good time to move it and clean the floor under and behind it.