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Cleaning electronics is important to your overall health. In addition to cleaning, it is recommended to have some plants around your workstation so they can filter the carbon (mon,di)oxide produced by your machines, and cool the room.
Keyboards, telephones, mice, and various electronics you touch on a day-to-day basis are hotbeds for dangerous germs, especially the Cold and Flu Virus. Dust buildup can also harm the operation of your machine.
This page is designed to help you ensure you are cleaning your devices properly.
Screens (including phones) can be cleaned with a microfiber cloth and water:
- Turn off the screen (this makes it easier to see how dirty it is).
- 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.
- Use circular motions with the cloth to clean the screen. You don't need to use any pressure. Be gentle.
- 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.
- Angle the screen/your head against some light to see if you missed anything.
- With the screen dry, turn it back on.
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 v4cuum 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.
- Shutdown and turn off your computer.
- Unplug all it's cables and connections.
- Take one or more sides of your case off.
- 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.
- Have a quick check to see if any cables have becoming dislodged during cleaning and are going to be hit by running fans.
- Put your case back together.
- Wipe down and reconnect all it's cables and connections.
- 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 can generally be cleaned in the same way as Computer Towers, but can be much more fiddly to both take their case apart and put them 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.
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.
If, after peeling off stickers, you're left with a sticky residue, it can be removed with WD-40 and a microfiber cloth:
- Spray a small section of the cloth with WD-40. You don't need much, maybe one second worth of spray.
- 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.
- After 15 seconds or so of rubbing, check if there's any residue left and repeat as necessary.
- With the residue gone, buff off any excess WD-40 with the dry side of your cloth.
- Give the area a minute to fully dry and you're done.
Holding your keyboard upside down and shaking/banging it is the preferred quick and easy way to clean your keyboard. However if you want to thoroughly clean your keyboard, you need to remove all the keys. For mechanical keyboards this is quite easy, and some keyboards come with a key-picker tool to help with this process. Membrane keyboards are a little harder, and in some cases keys are very difficult to remove. If you can't remove the keys easily and it feels like it may snap, try looking online for how to clean your specific keyboard model.
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 just don't bother (removing all the keys around the problem keys will normally be good enough to get a good clean).
After removing the keys, do the same shaking/banging and that should get rid of most of the gunk that was trapped. If your keyboard is still very disgusting then it may be worth going in with a toothbrush or toothpick and trying to dislodge the stuck bits of shit.
Mice can be rubbed down with a dry microfiber cloth.
Skin can sometimes build up in the space around 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 real way to fix this is to take apart the mouse, and that usually involves removing the mouse feet. So unless you have spare feet or stuff inside the mouse is causing a major problem, its usually not worth cleaning the inside of the mouse.
There are two types of mousepads, hard and soft.
Soft pads are the most common. One thing to note about soft pads, is that cleaning them can change the texture/feel of the pad entirely. 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.