No matter how clean a house you keep, your computers and gadgets are bound to get a little dirty over time. Here's what you need to clean them, and how to do it without hurting them.
Your gadgets aren't as resilient as they might seem, and just spraying windex on everything and rubbing it down with a paper towel can cause all sorts of damage to a device. However, they are remarkably easy to clean as long as you do it right -- and you can do most of it with just a few simple household items.
Clean Your Monitor With White Vinegar
LCD screens are pretty delicate, and you don't want to press hard on them, because that can burn out the pixels. Instead, turn your monitor off (so you can better see the dirty spots), and grab a dry microfibre cloth. Many monitors and other gadgets come with one. From there, just gently wipe the screen. If you have a more hearty build-up of spots or gunk, resist the urge to press hard and wet the cloth with a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar. You can use a special monitor cleaner if you desire, but the vinegar/water mix should work just fine. If you can, use distilled water instead of tap water, as the latter might leave white spots on your screen from salt or other deposits.
Remember, as you're doing this, that you want to use a soft cloth, preferably microfiber. Do not use anything paper-based, like paper towel, Kleenex, or toilet paper, since it can scratch up your monitor. Also remember never to spray any liquid on the monitor itself -- always spray it on your cloth first.
Clean Your Keyboard With Compressed Air And Rubbing Alcohol
We've mentioned this before, but our friends over at the How-To Geek have a great rundown on how to deep clean your keyboard. If your keyboard is only mildly dirty, you should be able to get by with two things: blowing some compressed air in between the keys (to blow out dust) and cleaning dirty keys with a swab of rubbing alcohol to remove oil, grime, and germs. Alternatively, we've become very big fans of magic erasers, and it'll do wonders for a grimy keyboard, especially if it's noticeably oily. If your keyboard's rather disgusting, though, you might have to pop out the keys and really dig in with a toothbrush.
Also, don't forget to turn your keyboard off (if it's wireless) or unplug it (if it's wired) before you start cleaning. If you're just giving it a quick wipe-down, though, and don't want to get behind your tower, you can use an app like ToddlerTrap (Windows) or Keyboard Cleaner (Mac) to turn it off while you touch it up.
Clean Your Mouse With A Bit Of Water Or Alcohol
With the exception of old-school mice or the Apple Mighty Mouse, most mice shouldn't need to be opened up to be cleaned. Generally, you can just turn it over and take a cotton swap to the rubber pads, wetting it with water or alcohol if necessary. For the mouse buttons, you should be able to clean it in much the same way you did the keyboard -- use some alcohol on a cotton swab to rub away dirt and grime. If you absolutely have to, you can look up a guide to taking apart your mouse, but know that this probably voids your warranty and shouldn't be necessary in most cases. Also, remember to turn off or unplug your mouse before cleaning.
Clean Your Laptop Body With A Magic Eraser
If you have some non-acetone nail polish remover around, it's been known to clean up laptops (especially lightly-colored ones, like MacBooks) quite well, but nothing works quite as well as a magic eraser. Get it wet, wring out as much water as you can, and lightly rub it over your trackpad, keyboard, and laptop body. It should clean them up, remove any grease from your fingers, and give it that new, fresh-from-the-store look. Don't press down too hard, since the eraser has a tendency to "shed" when rubbed hard, which will just dirty your computer up more. If your computer is grimier than that, clean your keyboard with an alcohol-soaked swap as described above in the keyboard section.
Clean Your Touch Screen Gadgets With Water And Vinegar
Like your monitor, the best cleaner for a touch screen device is a 50/50 mix of distilled water and vinegar. That said, touch screens are a bit more resilient than LCD monitors, due to the fact that they're meant to be touched, so you can press a bit harder if you have a particularly stubborn spot (don't go overboard, though). Just like everything else, use a microfibre cloth and spray the cloth with a small amount of liquid, not the screen, before wiping it down. The last thing you need is to get your phone wet, void your warranty, and break something important (like the charging socket). Also, if your smartphone is filled with dust, dirt, and other disgusting sediment, you may have to open it up and give it a deeper clean, a process that our friends at the How-To Geek have gone through in detail.
These are the most recommended products and methods on the net for cleaning your gadgets, but it's likely that your manufacturer has its own recommendations (Apple certainly does), so check their web site or instruction manuals for more detailed information. And, of course, share your own tried and true tips in the comments below.