Long before the terms COVID-19 and coronavirus became a part of our daily discourse, almost all of us were already walking around with devices that might have been contaminated with viruses and bacteria. Many of these objects came into frequent contact with our fingers and ears. I’m talking about our phones, laptops and earbuds.

Sure, now and then we’ll rub our phones on our pants when they get smudged. We’ll clean or pick up the crumbs around a couple of keys on our laptops. Now that many workers nationwide are required to work from home to stop the spread of the virus, you’re going to have to make sure your home office space doesn’t become a breeding ground for the very thing you’re trying to avoid.

Poly wants to help you rid yourself of all these electronic petri dishes. We’ve been helping people with home offices for a long time, and many of our products are great for work-from-home setups. So here are a few ways to keep a variety of electronic devices clean. Don’t ever use bleach and, of course, be sure nothing is plugged in while you’re cleaning it.

Poly Blog clean home officePhones: Cleaning wipes and soft cloths are best. Don’t spray any cleaners directly onto the phone, and make sure no water or cleaning product gets into the ports, nooks and crannies. These tips can be applied to both smartphones as well as to traditional desk phones and conference phones. For smartphones, treat the glass gingerly. For handsets, give some extra attention to the receiver, which spends most of its time against your mouth and ears.

Keyboards: The same no-liquids restriction apply here. Start by cleaning up crumbs and anything in the hard-to-reach spaces between the keys. You could use cotton swabs, clear tape or even this recipe from CNET for cleaning slime. Then give it all a good scrub with disinfectant wipes.

Accessories: First remove batteries from any device that has them. Make sure you do the trackpad, USB flash/thumb drives and especially your germ-covered mouse.

Cables: If you’re frequently charging and unplugging phones and laptops, you might want to give your cables a once-over. Don’t mess with the connector ends, but go after any part you touch frequently, as well as the length of the cord itself.

Headsets: We only think about them when we’re using them, but big and small, they hang on our heads or around our necks every workday for weeks and months.

Earbuds: Go with a cotton swab with alcohol. If the swab is dripping, it’s too wet. If the earbuds have removable tips, take them off and give them some attention. Check every crevice for dust, dirt and yep – earwax. Hopefully, this will be the grossest home-office item you need to clean.


Once you’ve hit all the biggies, look around your workspace and hunt for other items that you interact with frequently. Then ask some questions:

  • If you have a desktop or laptop computer, how often do you use your hand to adjust the monitor?
  • Do you absentmindedly put pens and pencils in your mouth?
  • Do you know how many times you have touched the lever on your chair that adjusts the height? Have you ever cleaned it?
  • When’s the last time you cleaned your printer?
  • Do you eat food next to your laptop? Do your hands ever go directly back and forth between your keyboard and a sandwich or salad fork?
  • That water bottle you keep refilling – when’s the last time it had a good wash, inside and out?
  • Does your computer or laptop have a touch screen?
  • Do you have a tablet that needs washing?
  • What about that knob, chain or switch that turns on the lights?

Everyone’s setup will be different, so be diligent. One missed area can transfer germs very efficiently. And don’t touch your face.

If you’re looking for more information, many manufacturers have posted advice about how to clean specific devices— like ours. And for additional tips about cleaning and disinfecting all kinds of surfaces, check out the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations.