How to clean your masks and phone & laptop surfaces

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As you all know, it is compulsory to wear a mask when you are going out , be it on public transport ,grocery shopping or going places to run errands. Many also start to have cloth masks or reusable masks as surgical masks are mainly reserved for the front liners. Of course there are also the inevitable questions: How often and how should you wash it?

MACHINE-WASH WITH NORMAL DETERGENT AND HOT-WATER CYCLE

Dr Rymond Fong, the chief and senior consultant at Changi General Hospital’s Infectious Diseases department suggests that washing cloth masks with clean , warm water and soap should suffice. There is no need to spend money on special antibacterial soap as there is no consistent evidence that its better than normal ones. Dr Fong recommends using the hottest setting on your washing machine to neutralise the microbes, then let heat dry. This eradicates any remaining pathogens on the mask.

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Hand wash with warm water

If you’re concerned about the mask dye running, you can also hand wash it. Wash it with warm soapy water for at least 1 minute and dry in the sun. Regular cleaning (especially after use or its dirty) of the mask is most important. For days when there is not enough sun exposure , you can use a dryer. However if you do not have a dryer, you can iron your mask in a clean oven for 20 minutes at about 70 degrees Celsius. 

SPRAY WITH BLEACH SOLUTION

No time to wash your mask? You can spray it with 5% bleach solution and let it air-dry, suggested Forbes’ senior contributor Tara Haelle. But do not spray masks with products and other disinfectants if their labels state that they may irritate the skin, she said. Test out the bleach spray on your hand first before spritzing it on your mask.

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boil it

Once in a while, boil your mask in water for five minutes, recommended Professor Rachel Noble, a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on Pop Science. However, the downside to this method is, your mask will deteriorate after a few rounds of boiling. To be on the safe side, she recommended not boiling your mask more than 10 times. The boiling method may be better used once a week to complement your daily washing by machine or hand.

While there are some other cleaning methods floating around the Internet that suggest sanitizing face masks by sticking them in the microwave, oven, or a pot of boiling water, Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, doesn’t recommended them since they are nowhere near as effective as standard washing and drying.

How about your phone screens? COVID-19 has also raised many questions on how to properly disinfect your phones after studies shown may be able to survive on some surfaces for up to and maybe even longer than nine days. Any germ that makes its way onto your phone or case could transfer to your skin, too.

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Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your display and other ports. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen. Apple says it’s OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations. Samsung has also recently said you can create an alcohol-based solution of 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, applied with a microfiber cloth.

For those who have a waterproof phone, you might want to reconsider washing it. The water may get into the ports and will ruin charging (or at least until its dry). Having a waterproof / water resistant phone is more about a peace of mind than purposely washing it. The best is still to use the methods above.

The best solution for removing sand and lint is Scotch tape. You can lay it along the creases and speaker, and roll it up and gently place it in the ports. The tape’s stickiness will pull out any lint or sand that may be stuck in your phone.

Even if you take the time to clean your phone regularly, it can quickly become exposed to germs and other harmful bacteria again. What are the best ways to reduce the amount of germs that your phone is exposed to?

  1. Avoid using on public transport (germs come into contact when you touch the railings)
  2. Don’t use it in the bathroom
  3. Don’t use it in the kitchen (try to print out your recipes)
  4. Place it on your armband / utility pocket when you’re at the gym (gym equipment might not have been thoroughly sanitized between uses.)

Lastly, with everyone working from home now, it is also common for people to start using their laptops regularly and more often than before. So how do you clean those surfaces too? Both New York Times and How To Geek suggested the following (of course, turn off your laptop before you start):

For keyboard

You’ll need a microfiber cloth, cotton swabs, some 90%-100% isopropyl alcohol, and compressed air. Never use household cleaners to clean electronics and don’t use vinegar instead of alcohol—it could seep into the keyboard and corrode its components.

Firstly , Wipe down your keyboard with the microfiber cloth. It’ll pick up most of the dust so you can focus on the grime.

Then, use the compressed air to get some dust off your keyboard before you get into detailed work. Remember to use short bursts or condensation can form under the keys.

Lastly, apply some 90%-100% isopropyl alcohol to a cotton swab (don’t pour it on your laptop) and start rubbing down your keyboard. Get between those keys, use a dry (preferably unused) toothbrush to deal with tight spots.

And if there are crumbs under your keys: Do a Google search on yours to see if the keys are removable. If so, remove them with a small, flat tool, and then hit the troubled spot with a cotton swab of alcohol or a short burst of compressed air. If you have trouble getting the dirt out from under your keyboard, consider sending it to the manufacturer for repairs or take it to a local service person. There’s no point ripping apart your laptop when someone else can do it for you.

Image Source: Envato Elements

for screen

You should be able to wipe fingerprints off with a dry microfiber cloth. Don’t use paper towels or rags to clean your laptop screen. They leave dust behind and may scratch your screen. Don’t use alcohol, vinegar, glass (or glasses) cleaner, Windex, or any cleaning chemicals. You may also want to use some canned air, but it isn’t necessary unless the screen is particularly dusty.

If your screen has tough or greasy stains, lightly dampen your microfiber cloth with water and use the same sweeping movements and light pressure. If your screen ends up too damp, gently dry it with a clean microfiber cloth. You should only use vinegar as an absolute last resort.Prepare a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar, dampen your microfiber cloth, and gently wipe the screen with wide sweeping motions.

Now that you know how to clean the following, you can now have a peace of mind on how to clean commonly used items. Hope you will stay safe and protect yourself during this pandemic! Tag us on instagram (allforu_sg) if you find any of these tips useful to be featured on our page!

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