How to Clean Electronics: Your Guide to Keeping Everything Pristine and Functional

March 19, 2023 • April Miller


It’s bound to happen sooner or later. Dust, bacteria, and oils from your skin slowly build up on your phone screen, and sometimes a miscalculated sip of coffee even splashes onto your keyboard. Wondering how to clean electronics? Let’s examine the best ways to clean some of the most common, everyday electronic devices.

How to Clean Your Earbuds

Using a bulb blower or compressed air, blow air into the earbuds to remove any loose debris. If the earbuds have detachable rubber tips, remove them and rinse them with water. This is the only part of the earbuds that should come in contact with liquid. Let them dry out thoroughly.

Next, use a dry cotton swab or toothpick to remove stuck-on dirt, earwax, or lint. Wooden toothpicks are a better choice than a metal tool because they’re less likely to leave scratches and they’re also great for cleaning the rubber pieces you removed in the first step.

You can then give the earbuds a final puff of air or wipe them with a soft cloth, and they should be good to go.

How to Clean Your Smartphone or Tablet

First, turn off your device so you don’t accidentally click something while cleaning the screen. Then, use a microfiber cloth to wipe it gently.

If you smeared something like sunblock or makeup on your device, you can even make your own cleaning solution to clean the screen more thoroughly. To make the solution, mix equal parts distilled water and 70% isopropyl alcohol, then lightly dampen the cloth and wipe the screen with it. This method is better than spraying cleaner directly on your phone or tablet, since that could damage your device.

How to Clean Your Computer Monitor

This is essentially the same process as cleaning a phone or tablet screen. First, it’s essential to shut down your computer if it has a touchscreen. If not, you can leave it on, but it might be harder to see the areas that need cleaning. A black screen is the best backdrop.

You can use compressed air on the screen, particularly around the edges, to blow away any loose dust. Then, using your homemade cleaning solution, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth and gently wipe away any dust or spots on the monitor using wide, sweeping motions.

How to Clean Your Webcam

Whether your webcam is built directly into your computer or it’s attached separately, you can clean it by first spraying it gently with air. Compressed air sometimes contains liquid particles that could damage the lens, so opt for a bulb blower or use a soft-bristled brush to wipe the lens.

Next, you can use a microfiber cloth – either dry or slightly damp with a 1:1 alcohol and water cleaning solution – to wipe the lens. A cleaning solution is better than water because it won’t leave spots. Make small, careful circles over the lens.

How to Clean Your Mouse

Unplug your mouse or remove the batteries. You can use an alcohol wipe or soap to disinfect the surface of the mouse, taking care not to wipe inside the battery compartment or sensor.

Remove the wheel and the external covering of the mouse if you can. Using a toothpick, carefully scrape out any debris that may have gathered in the nooks and crannies and follow this up with a blast of compressed air.

If you’re using an old-style mouse that has a ball inside, remove the ball, wash it with water, and spray the inside of the mouse with compressed air.

How to Clean Your Keyboard

If you don’t have a keyboard skin to protect the keys, the first step is to unplug the keyboard or remove the batteries if you spilled something on it. If you didn’t, you can just shut down the computer.

Turn the keyboard upside down and lightly tap it. Chances are, some crumbs from a long-forgotten midnight snack will make a reappearance. If you spilled liquid on your keyboard, dry it as thoroughly as possible with a towel and leave it upside down for 24 hours. The next day, you can remove the keys and soak them in warm water. Let them dry for two days before reattaching them.

If you’re doing routine keyboard maintenance, you can use a keyboard brush or even a soft-bristled paintbrush to sweep the spaces between the keys. Spray compressed air between them, too, getting the nozzle underneath if you can.

Using a microfiber cloth that’s slightly damp with cleaning solution, wipe down your keyboard, taking care not to drip liquid between the keys.

An Important Routine

Whether you’re doing damage control after a spill or just some light housekeeping, knowing how to clean electronics is an essential part of maintaining them. Make it a routine to clean your electronics before they get dirty enough to notice.