How to clean your keyboard
PC keyboards are relatively easy to clean. Disconnect yours and turn it upside down over a bin or a surface that’s easy to wipe clean. Give it a few taps and be prepared for biscuit crumbs, eye lashes and other undesirable things to fall out.
As with the PC base unit, use a damp cloth to wipe dust and dirt off. Anti-bacterial sprays shouldn’t damage plastic keys, but always test on a small area first. Don’t drench the keyboard with liquid or you risk destroying it. Instead, spray the cleaner onto your cloth – not directly onto the keyboard.
Laptop keyboards aren’t quite as simple to clean as PC versions. First, turn the computer off, and remove the battery if possible. With the screen fully open, turn the laptop upside down and gently tap the dust and dirt into a bin or onto a surface.
If there’s a problem with an individual key, perhaps because a large crumb is under it, you might be able to carefully prise off the key with your fingernail. Most laptop keys simply clip on, but never force a key or you risk breaking the clips or scissor mechanism.
How to clean your computer mouse
Gone are the days of the ball-mouse – all use an optical sensor of some description now. Dust and dirt can easily build up over the sensor and cause tracking problems, so use a damp cloth to clean the entire bottom surface of your mouse.
The top is where you’ll leave grease and germs, so it’s wise to use an anti-bacterial spray. As before, check on an inconspicuous area first and spray onto the cloth, not the mouse.
If you don’t want to risk any damage to your PC, keyboard or mouse, use a cleaner designed for electronic equipment.
How to clean your screen
You can use Muc-off, or simply a damp cloth, to clean most PC screens (and TVs too), whether they have a matt or glossy finish. You can spray directly on to a screen, but don’t let drops run down into the casing at the bottom.
A micro-fibre cloth is ideal for cleaning a screen as it helps to avoid streaks and is effective at removing dust and fingerprints. Use a damp micro-fibre cloth if marks are hard to shift, but be careful not to press hard on a PC screen as you can easily damage the LCD panel.
The rest of the monitor can be cleaned the same way as a PC tower or mouse, using an anti-bacterial spray if you prefer. As ever, don’t spray any liquids directly onto the casing, as it could damage the electronics inside.
How to clean a smartphone or tablet
Touchscreens tend to be the most frequently cleaned component, since an accumulation of fingerprints obscures the image and feels nasty. However, it’s crucial to use the correct cleaning products in order to avoid damaging your delicate electronics.
Most touchscreens these days have an oleophobic coating – literally ‘oil fear’ – which allows them to repel fingerprints. Such coatings aren’t amazingly successful, but they are easily damaged by harsh cleaning agents such as ammonia, alcohol and other solvents.
For this reason, all you need to remove grease and dirt from your screen is a micro-fibre cloth. You can pick these up in a supermarket or online for next to nothing. Micro-fibre cloths are better than other material because the tiny, split fibres lift the dirt and retain it, as well as absorbing liquid. This means they don’t leave lint on your screen, or simply spread the dirt around. You can dampen a micro-fibre cloth with water if the screen is particularly dirty.
When cleaning, use a circular motion rather than linear to a give an even finish and avoid the risk of long scratches if a large piece of dirt gets caught up in the cloth. You’ll find that a micro-fibre cloth will also effectively clean the rest of your device, including metal and plastic parts.
For ports and connectors, use a dry brush – a small paint brush is ideal – to gently remove dirt. Don’t use a can of compressed air, as the force is likely to damage the delicate components.
If grime is stuck in the speaker or microphone grilles, it can be tricky to remove. You could try using your vacuum cleaner, but use caution. Another technique is to use a pin to clear individual holes in the grille.