How to clean your work-from-home devices: from headphones to keyboards

Isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes are some things you can use

Spain, Tarragona. Desktop with laptop, virtual reality glasses, mobile, tablet graphic, smart watch, notebook and cactus. Getty Images
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Whatever your work-from-home set-up – whether it is a couple of books on your kitchen table precariously propping up your laptop or a full-blown home office in the spare room – after more than a month of using the space, it could probably do with a bit of a spring clean.

Your devices can become a hotbed of germs if not cleaned regularly.

And now with many of us spending more time than ever on our laptops or desktop computers, making good use of our headphones during Zoom calls and scrolling through our phones for countless hours a day – the need to keep devices clean and germ-free is greater than ever.

Get in the habit of cleaning your devices at least once a week. Here's how to clean them:

How to clean your screens

Apple released advice on how hot to clean its products last month. It recommends: “Using a 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and do not submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Do not use on fabric or leather surfaces.”

As iPhones are really just mini computers, the above advice would work for any screen.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: A pair of the new Apple AirPods are seen during a launch event on September 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. unveiled the latest iterations of its smart phone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the Apple Watch Series 2, as well as AirPods, the tech giant's first wireless headphones.   Stephen Lam/Getty Images/AFP
Apple has updated its advice on the cleaning of its products. Stephen Lam/Getty Images/AFP

All screens can also be wiped with a soft, lint-free or microfibre cloth, to get rid of any smudges, dirt and debris. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or other materials that will scratch the surface.

Traditional cleaning products – even natural remedies such as vinegar – will likely damage your device’s coating, so steer clear. If you are using a isopropyl solution, as recommended by Apple, do not spray directly on to your devices; always apply to a microfibre cloth and then proceed.

Extra cleaning for your phone...

For your phone, which probably attracts the most germs, you may want to invest in a UV light sanitiser, like the ones produced by PhoneSoap, which promises to kill 99.99 per cent of germs.

Phonesoap 2.0. Courtesy phonesoap

How to keep your keyboard clean 

To clean your laptop or computer keyboard, start by shutting down your device and unplugging the power adaptor. Turn the laptop or keyboard upside down and shake it out to get rid of stray dirt and crumbs.

The logo for the Zoom Video Communications Inc. application is displayed on an Apple Inc. laptop computer in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2020. Zoom's shares have soared in 2020 as the popularity of its video conferencing service has grown during a time of widespread lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg
Give your laptop a thorough clean. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

A compressed air duster is handy here: use it to dislodge any remaining particles. Another hack is to run the sticky side of a Post It note in between the keys – it’ll collect any dust and crumbs in its path. Or get a paint brush or large make-up brush and use it to sweep out any strays.

Then, lightly dampen a microfibre cloth and run it over any plastic or metal surfaces, making sure there’s no excess water.

How to keep your headphones healthy

Young man working at computer with headphones on. Getty Images
Don't forget to disinfect your headphones. Getty Images  

Clean over-the-ear headphones with a microfibre cloth dampened with water. Then use soap and water to clean the casing, making sure to focus on areas that come into the most contact with your hair or skin.

If your ear pads are leather, use a specialised leather cleaner, otherwise, wipe them down with baby wipes, using cotton buds to get at hard-to-reach areas in the folds or stitching.

AirPods and other in-ear devices should be wiped down with a dry cloth to prevent any damage to the electronics inside. Use a soft bristle brush, or even a clean toothbrush, to remove dirt and debris in those hard-to-get-to crevices.

You can also use a paper clip to gently dislodge any visible dirt, but proceed with caution so you don’t do any damage. Do not submerge in water, even if they are water resistant models.

And finally, a more general tip...

As the old adage goes, a tidy space is a tidy mind, so clear the space of all but the most necessary items. After a good few weeks of working from home, you’ll have clear idea of what you actually need – and what is just clutter.

And, devices and accessories aside, remember the surface you're working on: give everything a good wipe down, using some form of disinfectant. How often? Well, it's up to you, but at least weekly. But definitely get rid of those errant crumbs from all those mid-morning snacks and the watermarks left from the countless cups of tea you’re consuming each day.