Cleaning Electronics and Tech Accessories Checklist

A little effort goes a long way toward keeping your gear and gadgets at peak performance.

DVD Player and VCR

  1. Check Dust the outsides.

    Use a soft electrostatic dust-mop cloth lightly moistened with dishwashing liquid and water, making sure to wipe all buttons and knobs. Do not use any abrasives or solvents, such as rubbing alcohol, since they can damage the metal finish.

  2. Check “Clean” the insides.

    Insert a videotape-head cleaner or a DVD-lens cleaner and press Play.

  3. Check Spray the vents of the machines.

    Use a can of compressed air (available at electronic and office-supply stores) to remove dust, holding the canister a few inches away from the machine at about a 45-degree angle. This angle blows out the greatest amount of dust.

  4. Check Spray inside.

    Open the tray or the cartridge door, and spray with a can of compressed air at about a 45-degree angle to remove dust.

iPod Dock

  1. Check Unplug the dock and wipe it down with a damp soft, lint-free cloth.

    Liquids should not be used on iPod docks, since they can seep through the cracks and damage the machinery. Aerosol sprays, solvents, and abrasives can mar the finish.

Remote Controls

  1. Check Wipe the entire surface of the remote control, including the front, the back, the sides, and the buttons.

    Use a disinfecting wipe, but squeeze excess liquid from it into the sink.

  2. Check Dissolve sticky patches and grime.

    Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, pinch off the excess moisture with your finger, and circle the sides and the tops of the buttons.

Stereo and Speakers

  1. Check Dust the entire surface of the stereo.

    Wipe everything, including the knobs, with an electrostatic dust-mop cloth that has been slightly dampened with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, then wrung out.

  2. Check “Dust” inside.

    Open the CD tray and spray the inside with a can of compressed air at about a 45-degree angle.

  3. Check Clean the speakers.

    Run a clean medium-size paintbrush with soft, natural bristles over the speakers from left to right to lift dust. You can also spray the speakers with a can of compressed air, using the above technique, but the paintbrush method often frees more dust and is just as safe.


  1. Check Wipe down the screen.

    Dust the screens of plasma, LCD, and standard television sets in long, horizontal strokes, beginning at the top of the screen, with a dry electrostatic dust-mop cloth or a dry-cleaning sponge. (Shorter strokes cause smudging.)

  2. Check Wipe the casing of the set.

    Use an electrostatic dust-mop cloth lightly spritzed with glass cleaner.

  3. Check Remove any stubborn dirt.

    Purchase a specialty screen wipe at an appliance or office-supply store and follow the package instructions.


  1. Check Minute 1:

    Turn off the computer and unplug electrical cords. (For a laptop, remove the battery.) Pour a little rubbing alcohol into a bowl, dip in a foam swab (foam won’t leave lint behind like a cotton swab can), and then very carefully run the swab over all speaker holes, cord inputs, vents and any other openings on the monitor; follow up with a dry swab. Barely dampen an eyeglass cloth (or any other soft, lint-free cloth) with water and give the rest of the exterior a once-over. (For stains, add a drop of dish soap to a fresh cloth and rub; use the damp cloth to wipe clean.)

  2. Check Minute 2:

    Wipe the screen from top to bottom with the barely damp cloth. Even if you don’t see crumbs, turn the keyboard upside down over a wastebasket and give it a few gentle shakes—particles may be hiding under the keys. Keep the keyboard upside down, hold a can of compressed air upright with your other hand, and shoot a few bursts in and around the gaps between the keys. This will whisk away dust. (A small paintbrush also does a decent job.)

  3. Check Minutes 3 and 4:

    With a new alcohol-dipped swab, trace the outside of each key. Then swipe the tops of the keys gently with a fresh cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol; there’s no need to press down.

  4. Check Minute 5:

    With the rubbing-alcohol cloth, tackle the mouse, including the bottom. If it has a red light underneath, shoot a puff of compressed air in there; if it has a trackball, spin the ball a few times with your cloth. Turn the computer back on and get going on that brilliant novel/to-do list/e-mail you’ve been putting off.