Spring Cleaning for Electronics

graphic with keyboard, phone, and tablet

It is a given that when the weather warms the windows demand to be opened. But in the process, you notice how dingy the windows are, spurring the traditional frenzy called Spring Cleaning. But there is one part of this yearly tradition that your grandparents never had to worry too much about, electronics. Our high-tech devices are an integral part of our lives. Most come with instructions as to how to clean them, but the following are some general cleaning tips for the most prominent gadgets we use.

Phones and Tablets

Supplies Needed: microfiber cloth, distilled water, lint-free swabs, isopropyl alcohol

Did you know that our phones and tablets have ten times more bacteria on them than a common bathroom toilet? Hopefully, you are wiping down your tablet more than once a year! Harsh chemicals like Clorox wipes can dissolve the oleophobic (fingerprint-resistant) coating. The best way to clean these screens is by dampening a microfiber cloth with distilled water and wiping it down.

If your device does not have this coating, fill a spray bottle with diluted alcohol, lightly moisten a microfiber, cloth (no paper towels) and gently wipe down the screen and case. Never spray directly onto the device. You can use Q-tips to clean crevices, but lint-free foam swabs are better.

Computer/TV Screens and Keyboards

Supplies Needed: soft cloths, distilled water, compressed air, isopropyl alcohol

Keyboards have been around for over 150 years. People have used them as pianos, stress relievers (pounding on them), and even plates. Daily use of keyboards results in various debris getting lodged into the crevices. Frequent cleaning will help lessen the growth of germs and viruses.

First, make sure the computer is powered off. Disconnect all cords from the keyboard. Turn the board upside down and shake out any debris. Then use compressed air to blow out in between the keys. Use a dust vacuum to suck up any hard to reach particles. Finally, swab and wipe the board with alcohol. For screens, use a soft cloth to wipe down and gently scrub the surface. If a dry wipe does not take off the smudges, use distilled water. Never spray the screen directly.

Video Game Equipment

Supplies Needed: soft cloths, preferably of microfiber, lint-free swabs, isopropyl alcohol

Controllers are one of the most abused electronics around. Pounding on them is encouraged as is flicking, rolling and shaking. They hold up well to the battering but also need some cleaning attention. First, make sure the device is powered off. Wipe it down with a dry cloth. Then mix one part water to one part alcohol and apply it to the microfiber cloth and gently scrub. Use swabs dipped into this same solution and go around the crevices. Do the same for your console.


Supplies Needed: dish soap, lint-free swabs, cleaning toothbrush (nylon bristled), isopropyl alcohol

Silicone Covers

If you have silicone covers, slip them off and then soak in warm, soapy water. Use a swab to scrub away debris or stains. Rinse them and let them dry completely before use.


Holding the mesh facing down so that debris can fall out, use your toothbrush to gently scrape away any obvious ear wax. If you still see wax, dip your swab in the alcohol, squeeze off any excess and then wipe the bud to remove what is left. Since alcohol dries quickly, it will not damage the innards of the earbud. A once a month cleaning will help avoid grossness.

Smart Watches

Watches are just as used as the latter category. But different bands require a different approach to cleaning. If possible, remove the band from the watch base to facilitate cleaning.


Supplies Needed: microfiber cloth, gentle soap, leather conditioner

  1. Wipe the leather with a dry cloth. This will remove dirt or other debris that could scratch the leather during the more rigorous cleaning.
  2. Wash the leather with a gentle soap. Place a small amount of soap onto a damp jewelry cloth. Using small circular motions, gently rub both sides of the leather band with the damp cloth.
  3. Remove the soap residue by wiping it down with another damp cloth to remove all soap residue from the band.
  4. Finally, let the band dry then apply a leather conditioner.

Metallic & Plastic Avoid harsh chemicals like Benzene, Trichloroethylene, and Acetone.

Supplies Needed: warm water, antibacterial soap, toothbrush, dry cloth

  1. You will need a bowl of clean, warm water and a bowl of warm water with a small amount of antibacterial soap in it.
  2. Carefully place the strap of your watch into the soapy water for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Take it out, and gently scrub with a clean, damp toothbrush. Give special attention to the crevices.
  4. Then, dip it into the clean, warm water to rinse.
  5. Pat with a soft dry cloth. You can also use a hair dryer on a low or no-heat setting to dry in between the links. Make sure the band is completely dry before wearing the watch again.

Contributed by Angelica Mecham