How To Effectively Clean Your Smartphone And Laptop Screens Using Household Items

In the fourth installment of our weekly column TECH TUESDAY, we show you a bunch of household stuff that could easily keep your phone and LCD screen clean and bacteria-free.

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Did you know smartphones have 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle?

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And NO, a quick wipe on your shirt sleeve isn't going to make it go away.

Let's take some steps to keep your phone clean with items you may already have lying around the house. But first, let's cover the "don'ts."

— Don't use Windex or any other glass cleaner with ammonia. The harsh chemicals will damage an LCD display over time.

— Don't use a paper towel - not even a wet one -- because the rough fibers can scratch the display surface. Use a microfiber cloth like the one that came with your glasses.

— Don't spray anything directly on your device. Water and electronics don't mix. Lightly moisten a cloth and wipe it down

Now, before cleaning, disconnect your phone from any external power source, turn it off, remove the battery (if you can) and seal all port openings with tape to avoid liquid damage.

Your phone manufacturer will probably have its own cleaning tips, but here are some household items that can help beat the germ buildup on your cellphone. When cleaning, the key is to be gentle.

Use cotton swabs

Q-tips are handy for cleaning out hard-to-reach areas of your phone

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Say goodbye to the tiny crumbs and dust specs that reside on your phone with cotton swabs. Microfiber cloths are great, but cotton swabs do an even better job of removing the gunk and grime from harder-to-reach areas of your phone. These also work well for cleaning out the corners of your phone cases and ports. Simply take a cotton swab and brush it over the dirty crevices of your phone.

Use soft, lint-free cloth or microfiber cloth

This type of cleaning cloth may have come with your eyeglasses, phone and other gadgets. Using a cloth will remove oily fingerprints, smudges and more from both the screen and cellphone body. Here's how:

— Dampen the corner of the cloth with a bit of water. Whatever you do, don't apply or spray water directly onto your phone — water and phones don't mix.

— Gently wipe your phone with the cloth up and down the screen.

— Use the dry corner of cloth to remove any excess moisture on your phone.

Use water and rubbing alcohol

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There are a ton of wipes available to disinfect and clean your phone, but if you want to save money, this is a quick alternative.

Note that Apple doesn't recommend using any products with alcohol, ammonia and other cleaning substances. Some people say that when used in small amounts, these products won't noticeably hurt your phone. Try this at your own risk.

— Prepare a mix of 60% water and 40% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which can be found at your local drugstore.

— Lightly dampen the corner of a soft, lint-free cloth, microfiber cloth or cotton square with the water and alcohol mix. Don’t apply or spray the mix directly onto your phone.

— Gently wipe your phone with the cloth to kill unwanted bacteria.

— Use the dry corner of cloth to remove any excess on your phone.

Use distilled water and white vinegar

Mixing 50% distilled water and 50% white vinegar can create a cleaning solution for your phone

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If you don’t want to go down the water and alcohol route, you can use distilled water and white vinegar. Here’s how:

— Prepare a mix of 50% distilled water and 50% white vinegar.

— Lightly dampen the corner of a soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth with the distilled water and white vinegar mix. Again, don’t apply or spray the mix directly onto your phone.

— Gently wipe your phone with the cloth.

— Use the dry corner of cloth to remove any excess on your phone.

What about your LCD or laptop screen?

Before cleaning, follow the same instructions as to what you did with phone. Separate the LCD screen from its power source. If it's a monitor or TV, unplug it. If it's a laptop, phone, or tablet, shut it down, unplug it, and, if possible, remove the battery.

You don't need an expensive kit to clean an LCD screen. You can remove those smudges with common household items like microfiber cloth.

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You will need a microfiber cloth. If you wear glasses, your optometrist probably gave you one--although you might want a bigger one for a large screen. You can buy these for a few dollars from several Web sites, as well as from a photography store. Use the dry cloth to gently wipe away the grime. If you encounter some stubborn dirt, apply gentle pressure; but not too much.

If that doesn't work, use a moist cloth. But how do you moisten it, and with what? You should definitely not use soap, a window cleaner like Windex, or anything containing alcohol. Instead, get yourself an empty spray bottle (like the cloth, they're easy and cheap to buy), and fill it with a mixture of distilled water and white vinegar, in approximately equal parts.
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Spray the water/vinegar mix onto the cloth, not the screen. Then wipe the screen gently, as its described above. Wait until the screen is dry before plugging it in, reinserting the batteries, and powering it up.
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Meanwhile, things you didn't know you could do on a PC without ever touching the mouse

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