Viruses and malware aside, our tech is always going to be dirty. But here are some ways to keep our beloved devices clean

I consider technology to be a tangible investment, and just as I would with a car or a home, I pay homage to these devices with serious aesthetic upkeep. The world is obsessed with the ‘spark joy’ technique. We have all watched the video clip with Marie Kondo nodding at the tumbleweed of black-and-white cables in Hasan Minhaj’s office.

It’s our fault
  • A 2017 report ‘High level bacterial contamination of secondary school students’ mobile phones’ was conducted by Siiri Kõljalg et al. 27 students’ phones were examined closely and the results showed “a median of 17,032 bacterial 16S rRNA gene copies per phone.” PER. PHONE

There are two types of physical mess — the clutter of various tech paraphernalia, and the mess to which our phones, laptops and keyboards play host. There is nothing more aggravating than taking out your new phone or uncapping your camera lens to have the unmissable smear of who-knows-what smirking back at you.

And let’s face it, when our tech-vironment is clean, it helps us work a little more seamlessly, too. So let’s get into some of the different aspects of cleaning our gadgets:

Case for the microfibre

Typical journeys to tech-cleanliness start with those timeless microfibre cloths.

The minuscule fibres are able to attach themselves to even the most microscopic dirt particles; ones which normal and much larger cloth fibres crudely brush past. If we had microscopes for eyes, we’d observe adhesive forces between microfibres and dirt. It’s easy to become obsessed, knowing that even the most dastardly of dust mites were being chucked away.

The fragility of a lens

Some like to buy a ready-made camera cleaning kit which is fuss-free. These kits come with their own brushes, cleaning fluids and microfibre cloths.

I want to KonMari my tech. Where do I start?

You’ll find photographers have their fair share of make-up brushes too. The bristles of a make-up brush, particularly the tapered ones, can gently reach the far-embedded dust, which often goes unnoticed and creates a terrible build-up. Gentle strokes are key.

Static is a factor

Using a disinfectant wipe was a no-go, however tempting it was to reach for one. There’s a hack encouraging a solution comprising one part isopropyl rubbing alcohol and one part distilled water, which is fine if you’re in need of a quick fix and can moderate just how much is needed.

You can, however, decide against this and purchase a cleaning spray with an anti-static agent, which renders a device mostly dust-proof. Emphasis is on ‘mostly’.

Don’t worry, it is not like laundry.

Untangle that mess

When wires get tangled up in each other it can accumulate a ton of dirt and dust. Give wires a regular wipe-down and when moving about, keep them in little pouches so you don’t expose the nodes to dust either.

I want to KonMari my tech. Where do I start?

Keeping the wires cool and temperature-controlled and not tucked away in a corner helps. For the wires behind your shelves or desks, it is worth buying a wire encasement to neatly group the wires together. This will prevent people from tripping or pulling on them and also keeps dust away from the wires. Plus, you end up looking like a pro.

Now that things have become a lot more chemical, the CSI in me came alive. I put on my rarely-worn glasses, bent over my MacBook Air’s tactile little keyboard and lightly soaked a Q-tip in cleaning fluid. I loudly played The Who’s ‘We Don’t Get Fooled Again’ as I ran the tiny bud along the spaces between the keys, picking up what the microfibre missed. All that was left to do was go full-CSI and find if the DNA on said bud was mine — but this doesn’t fit my budget at the moment.

I’m not thinking of investing in a washable keyboard because there are a whole lot of extremely clumsy people who could use that more than me. Logitech has guarded this corner in the market, while WetKeys have been doing okay with their self-explanatory devices too.

So after this hygienic rollercoaster, I even went so far as to purchase a little basket in which microfibre cloths sat in a little zip-bag with a collection of anti-static fluids and a baggie of Q-tips, and even those free little pre-soaked packaged wipes from the local mobile store.

Having cleaned my screen and removed the dust with gentle bursts of cold air from the various ports, I place my laptop in its little zipper case. I open it later at a café with dramatic slow-motion because I want the immaculately-cleaned screen edge to catch the light. Smiling smugly, I finish opening the screen, expecting to see a mirror-like quality to the reflection — instead I see a fine layer of dust.