Dirty Devices

Follow our simple rules for taking care of your tech and avoiding mishaps.

How to Clean Your Tech Gadgets 03:11

Here are the dos and don'ts of cleaning all your tech gadgets and devices.

Door knobs, faucet handles, money, runny noses — you're exposed to all kinds of germs and dirt during the day. Then, you touch your smartphone, remote control or game controller. Let's face it, your gadgets are gross: Studies show that computer keyboards and remote controls can be dirtier than toilet seats. Before you throw your tablets in the tub, however, Carley's got tips to help you clean them the right way. She'll share the dos and don'ts of keeping electronics germ-free, show you some cool high-tech products that help you zap bacteria and teach you how to make a tech cleaning kit so you can fight the ick on all your domestic devices.

How to Clean Your Household Gadgets

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Flatscreen Televisions

LED TV screens are fragile, so don't let harsh paper towels or chemicals anywhere near them. Use a lint-free, microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the screen. If a stubborn mark persists, pour a 50/50 solution of water and rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spritz on the cloth, and wipe down again. Don't apply the solution directly to the TV, and do not press down on the screen, which could cause pixels to burn out.


Check your device's manufacturer's instructions, as many companies advise against using any sort of chemical on a touch screen. The 50/50 water to alcohol solution can be used with a microfiber cloth on the back of the tablet. To be safe, opt for a water-only damp (not wet!) cloth on the screen.


Since your smartphone goes everywhere with you, pack tech-cleaning mobile and packaged wipes in your purse or car. Make sure the wipes are specifically designed to clean screens and electronics and have antibacterial properties.


When a dusty cooling fan is a computer's problem, look to the laundry room. Dryer sheets work double duty to safely clean a computer's parts without interfering with its electrical system. As for a keyboard — that's seen its share of mess. Use a can of forced air to knock crumbs out of those nooks and crannies.


Forced air works well with printers, too. Point the can at any built-up filth around buttons and cords to blast it away. Open doors to check that there is no lint build-up inside.


Considering they touch sensitive parts of our bodies, headphones should be cleaned at least once a week. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the headphones down with a solution of gentle soap and water.


A stainless steel fridge needs special care to look its best. Use vinegar on a microfiber cloth, or a special stainless-steel mit to wipe the grime away. An equal-parts vinegar to water solution will also work to scrub away any messes on the shelves inside.

Coffee Maker

If you're addicted to the convenience of one-cup coffee makers, sweep away leftover coffee grounds with a toothbrush. Every 3-6 months run a descaling brew to get rid of any internal build-up by filling half the water reservoir with white vinegar and running several brew cycles without the K-cup. Then rinse, fill with clean water and repeat until the water is gone to get rid of any vinegar smell.


Mineral deposits taking over the inside of your dishwasher? Try this hack: Pour a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid into the detergent slot of the dishwasher. Let a cycle run, and watch the stains disappear.

Washing Machine

A washing machine can get bogged down with soap and minerals after dozens of washes. Pour about a quarter cup of vinegar into the machine or the equivalent amount of detergent per load, and set the machine through a wash cycle to put it back on track to bringing out the best in your clothes.


Ensure clothes are getting their driest by going beyond just cleaning out the lint trap. Every couple months, remove the lint trap and use a vacuum with a nozzle attachment to grab any lint that made its way back to the dryer's body. Wipe both the dryer and washing machine with a damp microfiber cloth.

Photo By: Eric Perry

DVD Player

Unplug the DVD player from the TV and wall, and wipe it down with a cloth. Spray with a can of compressed air for hard-to-reach areas. If discs are consistently skipping, the inside of your DVD player needs cleaning. To do this, remove the top portion of the player, and blow dust out with compressed air. If you're not comfortable getting into the nuts and bolts of the device, use a DVD lens cleaner instead.

Photo By: Niels Laan

It's not like we ever purposefully mean to ruin the delicate electronics we love, but when we're doing things like bringing them into the bathroom, accidents happen. Take heed of these all too common dumb tech accidents, so that you never have the same digital heartbreak happening to you.

12 Tech Don'ts

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Using Devices in the Bathroom

I know you won't admit it, but chances are high that you use your smartphone while in the bathroom. This is asking for a water-soaked device. If a text or Instagram upload really can't wait a couple minutes, I recommend a lifejacket for your phone in the form of a waterproof case. You'll thank me when your phone goes for an inopportune swim.

Unprotected Tablet

I guarantee once you've left an unprotected tablet in a bag and a stray, sharp object scratches the screen, you'll be unable to see anything else but that dastardly scrape. Arm the tablet with a scratch-proof screen so all subsequent movie-viewing and web-surfing will be distraction-free.

Eating at Your Desk

Your mouse pad attracts as much dirt and grease as a keyboard, especially if there's greasy pizza nearby. And crumbs can get into the bottom of your mouse, making it tough to track properly. If you have a fabric mouse pad, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and a little amount of mild soap.

Crumb-Filled Keyboard

Eating at your desk not only robs you of a well-earned break, it makes your tech gear pretty grimey. Blast crumbs away with several sprays of compressed air, or use a cotton swab to get hard to reach areas.

Digital Eye Strain

Taking a step away from screens is essential to give your eyes a break from a monitor's harsh glare. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break for 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away. Software programs that optimize the glow of your screen to reduce eye strain can make things even better.

Losing Data

Are all your photos sitting on your computer or smartphone's hard drive? Don't risk losing data if the device crashes. Back up precious media not only to an external hard drive, but also to a cloud service. Many online storage offerings like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud will autosync files to their servers with every photo you take. No more excuses for losing it all!

Using the Same Password

Every week it seems there's a new report of a website hack. Outsmart cyber criminals and regularly change passwords across all your many online accounts. Don't reuse passwords, and try to make an intricate one with capital letters, numbers and words that have nothing to do with your personal information.

Keeping Your Phone in Heat

Gadgets are sensitive creatures and wilt in extreme temperatures. A phone left on the dashboard of a car may see shortened battery life or malfunctioning operation. Most manufacturers advise an operating temperature between 32-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Limit your phone use on a hot day so the device doesn't get hotter than it is already.

Ignoring the Surge

They may not be the most fashionable tech accessory, but a surge protector will be your knight in shining armor should a storm or electricity surge ever pass through your home — two events that could seriously damage any electronics plugged in the wall. Keep gadgets secure by plugging them into a surge protector with multiple outlets and a light that signals when a power surge has occurred.

No Geolocation

Whether it's lost, stolen or just under the couch cushions, tech companies have finally given us a way to battle the search of a missing smartphone. Both iPhones and Android phones include tracking software, which when enabled, locates your device.

Cleaning Tech With Household Cleaners

Put the all-purpose glass and window cleaner down. As shiny as it makes bathroom counters, it'll ruin devices. Concoct a solution of 50/50 alcohol to water, and spray it sparingly on a microfiber cloth before wiping the device. The screen will get clean and retain all its touch sensitivities.

Not Protecting Your Phone

Alright, butterfingers. I know how it goes; these slim devices slip so easily through hands. Get yourself a tough, rubberized case that can handle the bumps and bruises of daily life.

Photo By: jwblinn

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