How To Thoroughly Clean A VR Headset, Controller, Phone, And Other Tech

Recent events have caused a lot of people to be more diligent in washing their hands, but it’s also paramount that you keep all of your most-used devices clean as well. That means our phones, keyboards, and controllers among other things. Of course, one of the scariest things can be not knowing what is safe to use and how exactly to clean each gadget. There are a lot of different cleaning and sanitizing products out there, each of which is good at a specific thing–and some products aren’t safe for cleaning fragile devices at all.

To demystify the process, we’ve put together this quick-and-easy guide on how to sanitize your phone, keyboard, and other common tech, including the best cleaning products we’ve tried and can recommend.

How to clean your VR headset

With Half-Life: Alyx released, people are putting a lot of use into their VR headsets. Of course, you’ll want to share the experience with the friends and family you live with, so you may need to clean your VR headset from time to time. Firstly, there’s no getting around it: you’re putting this on your face and then on someone else’s. There’s no way to prevent 100% of your sweat, DNA, or bacteria getting on them or vice-versa.

However, there are some easy ways to clean your headset’s displays and chassis, so you can get a good portion of the bacteria off of your headset–and have a crystal-clear view of the game you want to play. It’s just like cleaning glasses: take a Zeiss wipe and wipe down the lenses, then dry off with a microfiber cloth. The same can be done for the rest of the headset, but be careful around buttons and openings–you don’t want to get any liquid inside the headset itself.

Suggested products: Zeiss lens wipes — $20; Whoosh microfiber cloths — $10

How to clean your cell phone

In the age of smartphones basically just being big screens, it’s easier than ever to keep your iPhone or Android device clean. However, it’s also very easy to damage your phone if you don’t choose the right products or methods to clean it with. And since it’s likely the device that comes with you everywhere you go, it’s important to sanitize your phone regularly.

First off, don’t submerge your smartphone in any cleaning product. The best way to sanitize your iPhone is to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe–Apple suggests Clorox’s disinfecting wipes. Do not pour isopropyl alcohol on a cloth and then use that, as it’s very important to not get liquids into any of the crevices of your phone. Once you’ve found the right product, wipe down your phone thoroughly and then dry it off with a microfiber cloth.

Suggested products: Zeiss lens wipes — $20; Whoosh microfiber cloths — $10

How to clean your keyboard and mouse

Keyboards and mice are a little trickier than phones because it’s much easier for liquids to get into their electronics and destroy them. However, it’s not difficult to keep them clean. You’ll want to use the same 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes you would for your phone, but before wiping down your devices, you should squeeze out some of the excess liquid. At that point, you’ll be safe to wipe down your keyboard and mouse–be sure to only wipe down the tops and sides of the actual keys, don’t wipe underneath unless you plan on removing each key to do so. After wiping your entire keyboard down, you’ll want to use a microfiber or lint-free cloth to dry them–this is worth doing even if there isn’t any visible liquid on your keyboard just to be safe.

Thankfully, your mouse is a lot smaller than your keyboard, so wiping it down won’t be as difficult–though you should still practice the same diligence. Get rid of the excess liquid from the cloth, wipe down your mouse, and then wipe it off with a microfiber, lint-free cloth. This method is also effective at cleaning entire laptops, though you need to practice extreme caution when wiping down areas with open slots. You really don’t want any liquid seeping into any of your devices.

Suggested products: Zeiss lens wipes — $20; Whoosh microfiber cloths — $10

How to clean your controllers

Cleaning video game controllers is fairly simple, but because each button is an opening to the inner electronics, you need to practice caution. Wipe down the controller with a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, then dry it off with a microfiber cloth immediately. If you’re comfortable taking the controller apart and cleaning it that way, then you can try that as well–this will make it easier to clean each individual button, though it’s not necessary unless the controller is really gunked up.

A better way to keep your controller intact and clean inside the buttons’ crevices is to use an eraser or piece of silicone to pull up any gunk. The best option for this is OXO’s cleaning brush that features bristles on one side for dust and dirt cleaning and a piece of silicone on the other that’s perfect for getting into those tight nooks and cleaning them out.

Nintendo customer support recently asked users to avoid using alcohol to clean Joy-Cons, as this could cause the plastic to “fade or deform.” Unfortunately, Nintendo suggested using a “soft dry cloth”–I’m sorry to say that this definitely won’t disinfect your console. This isn’t the first time Joy-Cons have had issues due to build quality. At the Switch’s launch, Nintendo advised against using controller skins as removing the skins could destroy the controller’s finish. Last year, the company was met with much criticism when users started to notice that their Joy-Con’s analog sticks started to drift.

Suggested products: OXO electronics cleaning brush — $6; Zeiss lens wipes — $20; Whoosh microfiber cloths — $10

How to clean screens

Screens are perhaps the easiest thing to clean. As long as you have the right products, it’s hard to mess up. The product I use is Whoosh screen cleaner kit, which comes with three microfiber cloths and two bottles of the cleaning solution. All you do is spray the solution on a cloth, then wipe down your dirty screen and then dry it off with the other side. It’s great for PC monitors, laptop displays, tablet screens, and even the Nintendo Switch–it also works well for eyeglasses, which is great for me as I’m a four-eyed nerd with very dirty lenses.

Of course, there are plenty of other high-quality screen cleaners. Just make sure you spray the cleaner onto a microfiber cloth before wiping it down–and if you’re cleaning a Nintendo Switch, remove the Joy-Cons. Spraying the cleaner onto the screen directly can cause some splatter to get into the device itself, causing easy-to-avoid damage. You can also use alcohol wipes to clean screens, though if you sneeze or cough onto a screen, I’ve found that a dedicated cleaner can more effectively pull that grime off of the screen.

Suggested products: Whoosh screen cleaner kit — $16

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