Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are becoming more commonplace every day. For many people, they’re almost extensions of their hands because they hardly ever seem to put them down. This kind of frequent use quickly leads to mobile devices getting covered with fingerprints, smudges and bits of whatever else people are using, eating or handling. And germs. Lots of germs.
The thing is, most people know that washing their hands frequently is the best way to prevent illness and avoid either catching or passing along germs. But few people think about the fact that after washing their hands, they pick up the same grubby phone they’ve been using all day, week, month or year – the phone that has never actually been given a good cleaning. Some people will wipe their screens off now and then to make them easier to read, but that’s not the same as giving a phone or tablet a good washing or disinfecting to get it really clean. Cleaning an electronic device is more complicated than washing your hands, though. Hands are nicely waterproof, while electronics are not (something many people have accidentally discovered by sending their devices through the washing machine or by dunking them in a sink or toilet). Mobile devices need a different kind of care.
Wipe Down Devices
Simply wiping your mobile devices with a moist microfiber cloth is enough to remove a lot of pathogens, especially if you remember to do it regularly. Some manufacturers, including Apple, recommend against using common cleaning agents such as alcohol, ammonia or abrasives to avoid damaging their mobile devices. It’s important not to get liquids or excessive moisture into any ports or holes in a device, which means using a slightly damp cloth or disinfecting wipe is the safest way to clean a mobile device, taking extra care around any openings in the case.
You can purchase disinfecting wipes or make your own cleaning solution out of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. A 1-to-1 ratio makes an effective solution for cleaning electronics. Using pure ingredients such as distilled water means there is less chance of leftover chemicals or residue on the device after cleaning. To use such a solution, dampen a microfiber or other lint-free cloth with it and carefully wipe down the device. Never spray the device with water or any cleaning solution, as there is too great a chance of getting the solution into ports on the device. For safety, disconnect the device from power cords before cleaning.
This simple, low-tech answer serves for most mobile device cleaning needs, but there are other options. Ultraviolet sanitizers kill germs without using any liquids. These generally consist of a compartment in which you place your device to be zapped with ultraviolet light or a wand you wave over your device. Compressed air is also a good choice for giving your device a really good cleaning, especially to get dust out of all the tiny crevices that are impossible to get a cloth into. In addition to removing dust and pathogens from your device, this kind of cleaning can also improve its resale value if you want to upgrade to a new device. You can either purchase cans of compressed air or invest in an air compressor which provides the same benefits without the environmental cost of old cans to throw away.
Finally, if you want to protect your device and make it easier to clean, invest in a washable smartphone or tablet cover, which will keep germs and dirt off your device. A removable, cleanable cover means you can always keep your device clean and germ-free without taking the risk of getting cleaners in it or scratching the surface with cleaning materials. These are an especially good option for devices that get used by multiple people throughout the course of a day (such as the family tablet), which vastly increases the risk of collecting and passing along germs.