Best ways to clean all the dirt and grime off your tech

May 16, 2021, 5:00 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

Maybe you’ve set aside your stash of pandemic disinfectant wipes, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your tech.

Germs, dirt, grime, and dust settle into every nook and cranny. If you don’t do something about it, you’ll shorten your gadget’s useful life.

Before you turn to the outside, your tech could probably use a good internal cleanup. Tap or click for simple steps everyone should know to maintain a smartphone.

What about your computer? Tap or click for six smart ways to speed up your PC.

Now, let’s grab some supplies and start cleaning.


You probably have at least a few smudged screens sitting around. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, eReader, TV, or monitor, use a microfiber cloth. They’re soft and won’t scratch your screens. Skip scratchy paper towels.

Most dirt and debris will wipe away easily with a dry cloth. For stubborn smudges and fingerprints, lightly dampen the cloth with distilled water. Never pour or spray water directly onto a screen, and stay away from glass cleaner too. Many brands contain ammonia which can ruin the screen’s surface.

You can use a mixture of water in a 1-to-1 ratio with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol for a deeper clean. Alternatively, you can buy a specialty electronics cleaner.

Pro tip: I use pre-moistened electronics wipes. I buy a big pack from Care Touch. They’re great on smaller screens like phones, tablets, and laptops. For TVs and bigger monitors, these wipes from Weiman work like a charm.


Your keyboard is a mess. It’s shocking how much junk settles in between the keys and on the keys.

To get started, disconnect your keyboard if it’s plugged into the computer. If it’s wireless, switch it off. For laptop keyboards, shut the device down and disconnect the power cord. If the battery is accessible and easy to remove, do that as well.

Grime build-up and loose dust particles go deeper than just the top of the keys. This is when a can of compressed air is handy. Try Blow-Off, which is a compressed air duster for keyboards. If you don’t have any, a piece of tape held tautly or the sticky side of a Post-it note works wonders for grabbing stuck-on dust.

Next, gently wipe the tops of the keys and the palm rest with a microfiber cloth or a disinfectant wipe. Skip wipes with bleach or any other harsh chemicals, as they can ruin the keys. Don’t plug your keyboard back in or power it up until it’s fully dry. A little dampness can cause big problems and permanently ruin electronic devices once power is flowing.

Pro tip: If you have a standard computer plastic keyboard that’s not wireless, throw it in the dishwasher. Don’t use any soap or any heated setting. You want rinse only. Give it a few days to dry before using it.

This gel dust cleaner is a simple, easy way to get the junk out of your keyboard, car vents, printer, camera, or just about anything else with small openings that collect dust. It’s biodegradable, not sticky on your hands, and can be used many times.

To use it, take a piece of the cleaning gel and knead it into a ball. Press the gel slowly into your keyboard and pull it out. Dust is carried away with the cleaning gel. Easy peasy!


You touch your computer’s mouse all day, and it picks up grease, dirt, and grime from your fingers. You know things are bad if your scroll wheel doesn’t spin easily.

Like with your keyboard, disconnect it from your computer and take out the batteries. If it’s wireless, flip it over, turn it off and take out the batteries.

Turn the mouse upside down and continuously roll the wheel to loosen anything that may be stuck inside, then grab an alcohol wipe or microfiber cloth moistened with electronics cleaner.

Pro tip: Toothpicks and cotton swabs are your friends. You can use a toothpick to scrape away the gunk and debris stuck to your mouse. Don’t forget about the bottom.


Your computer, TV, and other gear have small ports that collect dust and dirt, too. You can try cotton scabs, but they may leave fuzz and lint. Your best bet is a phone cleaning kit. For less than $10, you get 40 anti-static foam swaps in different sizes, plus brushes, microfiber cloths and dust plugs.

If you have it around, compressed air works great here, too.

Pro tip: Take extra care with ports. Metal knives or safety pins can leave scratches. Even toothpicks can snap off, so tread lightly. Stick with plastic (like dental floss picks) or foam. Take your time and work carefully, so you don’t inadvertently bend or snap any connections.


Wireless earbuds have a special kind of mess: Dirt, grease, and earwax. Gross, I know. Luckily, we can use some of the same tricks and materials. Wipe down the cord and body of each earbud with a slightly damp microfiber cloth or a wipe. Toothpicks are great for scraping away debris, but you need to steer clear of the speakers.

Pro Tip: Here’s a trick that went viral on TikTok. Remember BluTack? It’s reusable adhesive you probably used to hang up posters back in the day. Grab a little ball of it, and press that into your earbud speakers. Pull it away, and all the junk inside will come off with it.


If you spent the last year working from home, you’ve likely used your printer more than ever. It shouldn’t be quite as grimy as gadgets you handle for hours each day, but it deserves a nice cleaning too.

Unplug it, then wipe everything down with a microfiber cloth. Open any covers and wipe down there, too. Cotton swabs are good for getting into hard-to-reach corners. You can use an alcohol wipe to wipe down printer rollers.

Here’s a smart idea from Soak a piece of paper with rubbing alcohol (leaving the edges dry) and run that through the printer’s roller.

Pro tip: Compressed air is great for a lot, but not printers. It can damage delicate parts, so skip it here.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

You can show photos saved to your phone on your TV

If you’re not watching anything, why not display your favorite photos? Here are a few easy ways to get the job done, straight from your phone.
6 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Kim Komando

Amazon shoppers need to take these steps during the holidays

The holiday shopping season is a good time to revisit Amazon's security essentials, so you don’t have to worry about spoiling a surprise or putting your privacy at risk.
10 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Kim Komando

Get more life out of your dying phone battery with these tips

When you’re out and about and realize your battery life is low, what can you do?
13 days ago
FILE - The icons of Facebook and WhatsApp are seen on an iPhone in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Nov. 15,...
Kim Komando

If you use Facebook, here are 3 ways to make sure it’s not listening

I have lost count of how many times I’ve been asked, “Are my devices listening?” I will tell you this: They are always listening for the wake word, and tech companies admit smart assistants mishear commands more often than any of us would like. Tap or click to stop your smart assistants from hearing what […]
20 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Kim Komando

5 quick steps to clean up a messy computer, inside and outside

Clutter on your computer can be tough to wrangle, but it's good to get those files cleaned up. And don’t forget to make the outside pristine, too.
27 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Kim Komando

How to digitize your handwritten notes or copy text from a photo

Ever wish you could turn your handwritten notes into something you can search or edit on your computer, phone, or tablet? You can!
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles


Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Schwartz Laser Eye Center

How to sharpen your vision with elective procedures

Imagine opening your eyes in the morning and being able to see clearly. You wouldn’t have to wait to put on glasses or contacts, and there would be no more blurry showers nor forgetting where your glasses are.
Best ways to clean all the dirt and grime off your tech