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How to clean your smartphone, laptop and other tech, according to experts

Experts say cleaning your tech can help make your devices last longer — here are the best products to use.
Experts recommend low-maintenance ways to keep your devices clean.
Experts recommend low-maintenance ways to keep your devices clean.Vivian Le / NBC

As the owner of a range of devices — including smartphones, laptops and earbuds — I’ve seen my tech gather dust and dirt over time with ease. From visible crumbs all over the keyboards, smudged screens and dust bunnies in the vents, my gadgets have experienced it all. To help you keep your own devices clean and smudge-free, we spoke to experts about what they use to achieve cleaner devices and gathered their recommendations for the best tech cleaning products to shop.

SKIP AHEAD The best products for cleaning tech | How to clean your tech | How often should you clean your devices?

Our Top Picks:

How we picked the best tech cleaning products

Below, we listed the best cleaning accessories for tech recommended by experts. In line with our experts’ guidance, we paid attention to the following points:

  • Types of devices: Our recommendations can help clean multiple kinds of electronics. For this article, we focused on smartphones, laptops, PCs, gaming controllers and headphones.
  • Price: Experts told us you don’t have to break the bank to keep your tech products clean — with that in mind, we considered products under $100.
  • Safe to use: Each of our recommendations are safe to use on your tech device. This means that they won't damage your device’s screens or affect their durability in any way.

The best products for cleaning tech in 2023

The following products were recommended by our experts to clean various devices and components of devices, including keyboards, screens and ports. We’ve also highlighted how each cleaning product is meant to be used.

Best for smartphones: PhoneSoap

PhoneSoap 3

Burton Kelso, chief technology expert at Integral, recommended PhoneSoap to help disinfect your smartphone. PhoneSoap — which was featured on Shark Tank in 2015 — uses built-in UV lighting to kill germs and bacteria in 10 minutes or less, according to the brand. The PhoneSoap 3 simultaneously charges your phone while it disinfects. Kelso mentioned that it won’t be able to get out visible dust and dirt, so you should still wipe your screen with a microfiber cloth before using PhoneSoap. The brand also offers several variations of the disinfecting device, including the PhoneSoap basic and PhoneSoap wireless.

Best for keyboards: Dust-Off

​​Dust-Off Disposable Compressed Gas Duster

Our experts recommended compressed air as the best way to clean keyboards, vents and ports. “You’ll need to turn the keyboard on its side and blow the compressed air into the slots between the keys in order to dislodge dust and any other particles that may have made it inside your keyboard,” Kelso says.

Dylan “Envoy” Hannon, a professional gamer and Call of Duty esports player, suggested removing any key caps because they can prevent you from thoroughly cleaning your keyboard. He also recommended using compressed air cans to remove any dust from the bottom of the keyboard.

Best for screens: Pure & Clean

​​Pure & Clean Surface Cleanser Pro

Kelso warned against using disinfectant wipes on your screens since they can cause damage. Instead, he recommended the Pure & Clean Surface Cleanser Pro, which you can spray directly onto your device’s screen and wipe it off with a microfiber cloth. This cleaner’s formula doesn’t contain any alcohol or harsh chemicals, according to the brand. Plus, you can use it to wipe down your desk or gaming area, too.

Best for controllers: Amazon Basics

​​Amazon Basics Cotton Swabs

Gamers know the hassle of getting all sorts of liquids on their controllers — I’ve had to clean food stains, soda and other miscellaneous stains off of mine. Hannon recommended adding rubbing alcohol to cotton swabs and dabbing them onto the buttons, joysticks and back of the controller to keep it clean.

Amazon Basics’ cotton swabs are double-tipped, so you can use both sides. If you want to stock up, we suggest grabbing the four-pack, which will give you a total of 2,000 swabs for cleaning purposes.

Best for ports: MontoPack

MontoPack Bamboo Wooden Toothpicks

Kelso recommended using a wooden or plastic toothpick to grab any food crumbs stuck inside your ports, followed by compressed air to get any other stubborn particles out. “You want to avoid metal toothpicks because they can cause your tech devices to short out,” he says. These durable bamboo toothpicks come in an easy-to-store plastic container. You can buy a 2-pack of 500 toothpicks, or invest in a larger 4-pack for 2,000 toothpicks.

Best for headphones: Endust

Endust Electronic Wipes

Hannon uses electronic wipes to keep his headphones clean, especially after they get greasy with use. “A couple of wipe downs, and they’ll be as good as new,” he says. You can use these wipes to clean the outside of your headset cups and headband, and let them air dry or wipe them down with a microfiber cloth afterward. (If you have a leather headset, Hannon recommended investing in leather-specific wipes.)

How to clean your tech

Below, we share how to clean specific tech devices based on our experts’ guidance, including beginner tips for first-timers and cleaning accessories to keep in mind.

  • Earbuds and headphones: Kelso says the best way to clean your earbuds is to use a can of compressed air to gently dislodge particles. While we recommended using an electronic wipe for the exterior of your headset, our experts suggested sticking to using a surface cleaner or a microfiber cloth on your earbuds. You can also make your own cleaning solution using three parts water mixed with one part isopropyl alcohol, according to Kelso.
  • Smartphones: To keep your smartphone clean, Hannon suggested starting with a sturdy phone case and a screen protector. From there, you can disinfect your smartphone using UV light and keep it free from fingerprint smudges with a microfiber cloth.
  • Laptops and PCs: These devices have several components that need cleaning, including the screen, keyboard, vents and ports. Our experts recommended using compressed air on your keyboards and vents. You can also use a wooden toothpick to gently clean out any visible dirt, dust or debris inside the ports. Similar to smartphones, you can use a tech surface cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the screen.

How often should you clean your devices?

Kelso suggested cleaning your devices weekly or on a monthly basis at the very least. Both experts agreed that your cleaning schedule should depend on how often you use your electronics. For example, since he frequently uses his controller and mouse while gaming, Hannon says he cleans them every three or four days.

For surfaces like your laptop or smartphone screens, it's best to try and clean them at least once every two weeks, according to Hannon. As for the interior of your desktops and laptops (including vents), you'll want to clean them at least once a year. You might have to partially dismantle certain electronics like PCs and laptops to clean their interior, Kelso says. For this reason, it’s best to get a professional to help you out: Kelso recommended getting in touch with a tech-savvy relative or your favorite tech support company.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Burton Kelso is the chief technology expert at Integral, an IT support company. He’s also a national speaker and a tech expert who regularly appears on national and international TV shows offering viewers easy tips on computers and gadgets.
  • Dylan “Envoy” Hannon is a Call of Duty World Champion and part of the official Call of Duty League franchise team, the ‘Los Angeles Thieves.’

Why trust Select?

Nishka Dhawan is the associate commerce editor at NBC Select and has covered tech and electronics for over three years. For this article, she interviewed two tech experts to understand the best cleaning tips for electronics.

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