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How to Clean Your Tech Items Without Spending a Lot of Dough

Smartphones reportedly carry more germs than a toilet seat. That’s disgusting. Whether true or not, it’s important to keep our smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and other electronic devices clean, especially in these COVID-19 times. 

I don’t use alcohol-based cleaning solutions as some reports say they may damage your electronic devices over time, although other studies deny this. In fact, Apple’s own guidelines endorse using “70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes.”


Still, I’ll take the safe route. If you, too, are averse to alcohol-based solutions, you can use a product such as Gadget Guard‘s TechClean, a package of 100% plant-based wipes moistened with a sodium laureth sulfate solution (10% sodium laureth sulfate — ie, soap — and 90% water).

It’s available online or at retailers in 20 count pouches for $9.99 and 60 count canisters for $19.99. Of course, you’ll likely go through 20 or even 60 wipes quickly. Do the math, and you’ll see that the cost of keeping a supply of TechClean adds up.


Then there are devices such as those from PhoneSoap, the company that makes a smartphone charger that cleans and sanitizes the device while it charges. It’s battery-powered and can disinfect a smartphone 45 times and/or charge it up to four times on a single charge. 

The PhoneSoap can also sanitize anything that fits inside its sanitation bay, such as keys, credit cards or earbuds. However, it costs $99.95 (which isn’t bad considering what it does), but, obviously, can’t clean devices other than your smartphone.

Homemade Solutions

Then there’s a homemade solution (pun intended). According to Jessica Samson, the communication manager at The Maids International, you can mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water. Dip a microfiber cloth into the solution, ring out any excess water, and wipe down the top and bottom. Then, rinse the cloth and go back over the device to remove any soap remnants. Finally, wipe the computer’s exterior one last time with a dry towel to remove any moisture.

When it comes to your Mac’s mouse, clean it with a “damp cloth and use cotton swabs to get into crevices,” says Samson. Complete the job by wiping down the mouse with your sanitizing solution.

Also note that To prevent damage or a nasty shock, you need to turn off the power to your Mac, iPhone, and iPad when cleaning them. Power down and then unplug the device. You’ll also want to unplug any individual monitors.

CAUTION: Don’t spray any solutions directly on your screen, as it can drip down into places it shouldn’t go.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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  • Everclear™ and a microfiber cloth. Everclear is 95% ethyl alcohol (190 proof), and no more toxic than a stiff drink, as opposed to isopropyl alcohol, which is mildly toxic if absorbed through the skin—for those ultra safety conscious. Isopropyl is, after all rubbing alcohol.

    The advantage to ethyl alcohol is twofold: It evaporates very rapidly, and it is generally less harmful to rubber and plastic than isopropyl. Because isopropyl evaporates much slower, there is a small chance some of it will remain when you power up your device after cleaning. Very unlikely to cause a problem, but that’s why such things are called “accidents.”

    Ethyl alcohol is also a better cleaner than isopropyl when it comes to skin oil, grease from food, or anything you are likely (or even unlikely) to get on your device.

    Sanitizing hand wipes are fine, as long as they don’t contain skin moisturizers, which will remain on the device—particularly screens.

    All common alcohols have a strong defatting effect on the skin (which is why they work so well as cleaners for things we touch a lot.) DO NOT EVER RISK GETTING LIQUID ALCOHOL OF ANY KIND IN YOUR EYES! Especially when concentrated like Everclear™. Don’t drink straight Everclear—it is concentrated enough to damage your tongue, mouth, and esophagus. It’s meant to be diluted to at least 50 percent before consumption (100 proof).

    And before you ask, yes, vodka will also work.

  • I recommend adding this style comment, as my husband did in technical writing:

    CAUTION: By the way, don’t spray any solutions directly on your screen, as it can drip down into places it shouldn’t go.

    Usually placed in a block to make it stand out.