Don't Forget To Sanitize These Electronics After Getting Over The Flu

What do you do after getting over the flu (besides throwing yourself a mini celebration)? Chances are you clean your interiors and wash and disinfect your bedding to kill the lingering germs. While these practices will help you contain the spread of the dreaded flu, overlooking certain high-touch items like electronic gadgets might undo all your hard work. Since their glass screens can harbor disease-causing viruses for nearly 96 hours, forgetting to sanitize your phone, laptop, earphones, TV remote, game controller, mouse, and keyboard isn't an option.

Although it's a possibility that you might not have come into contact with all the electronics you own while you were sick (especially if you didn't do much work from home), it's highly unlikely your phone made the cut. According to research from 2022 by tech company Asurion, Americans check their phones up to 352 times a day. Besides the virus from the flu, your cell phone might be harboring 10 times more bacteria than your toilet seat, so it's always a good call to sanitize the device — sickness or not. However, sanitizing your electronics isn't as simple as wiping them off and calling it a day. You must prep the devices first before cleaning them with disinfectant wipes.

Clean your devices before disinfecting them

Before you can sanitize your devices, you need to clean them off. First things first, scrub your hands with soap and water to remove any dirt, oils, and lingering germs. Further, your clean hands might get contaminated by the germs on your electronic gadgets, so to eliminate the risk of transmission from the dirty device to your hands, don a pair of clean gloves. Once you're ready, turn off all the electronic devices and remove them from their respective electrical outlets. For instance, if you have plugged your phone into a charger, turn it off and unplug the device from the charging cable. The same goes for your computer, laptop, and tablet.

As for your earphones, keyboard, mouse, TV remote, and game controller, disconnect them from the connected device and remove their batteries (if applicable) to avoid rendering them useless accidentally. Don't forget to remove the protective cases from your devices as well. Although you can begin sanitizing your devices now, it's recommended that you clean them first to get rid of the accumulated dirt and debris. To elaborate, use a microfiber cloth to safely clean your computer screen, keyboard, and mouse, as well as your other electronics. If you need help dislodging debris from hard-to-reach areas like under the keys, employ the dental floss cleaning hack to get into tight spaces. You could also use compressed air to get small debris out of keyboards.

How to disinfect your electronic devices

Once your electronic devices are free from debris, it's time to disinfect them. Apple recommends using a 70% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipe, a Clorox disinfectant wipe, or a 75% ethyl alcohol wipe to sanitize the exteriors of your electronics. Simply put, rub a disinfectant wipe against your device's display screen, keyboard, and exterior to kill the germs. Be gentle to avoid damaging the gadgets, and lightly wring out the wipes beforehand to remove excess moisture. Follow a similar process for your earphones. That being said, avoid using these wipes on the speaker mesh, knit mesh canopy, and ear cushions of your earphones. Leather and fabric surfaces must be avoided, too.

But what do you do when you don't have disinfectant wipes handy? Dell recommends combining isopropyl alcohol with water in a 7:3 ratio in a spray bottle, dampening a microfiber cloth with the DIY disinfecting solution, and using it to wipe the germy electronic devices. Ensure the cloth is damp, not wet. It also recommends wiping display screens from top to bottom and moving the cloth in a single direction for best results. After you're done, leave all your devices to air-dry before powering them on or plugging them back into their designated electrical outlets. Nevertheless, before you do any of this, don't forget to check the manufacturer's instructions to err on the side of caution.

What not to do when disinfecting your electronic devices

Even though the disinfecting process is straightforward, you must keep a few things in mind to avoid damaging your electronic devices. For starters, don't use hydrogen peroxide and cleaning products containing bleach, ammonia, or solvents to sanitize your gadgets, as they might harm the finish of your devices. Moreover, refrain from spraying your DIY disinfecting solution (or another dedicated cleaner) directly onto the gadget or its display screen. Instead, always spray it onto a cloth.

In a similar vein, take care to keep any moisture or liquid from getting inside the charging port or speakers. For peace of mind, you can stick a small piece of tape over the openings to cover them and take it off after you're done. The tape will keep moisture and rogue water droplets out, protecting your electronic devices from damage. Additionally, don't use abrasive cleaning materials like paper towels since they can roughen the smooth surface. In extreme circumstances, they might even harm your device's oleophobic (oil-repellent) coating.