5 Tips for Cleaning Your Laptop, Both Inside and Out

iStock
iStock

While you may occasionally clear off your desk and take a Lysol wipe to it, chances are you don't often do the same for your laptop. One 2016 swab-test by an IT training website found that its computer keyboards were home to as many germs as a toilet seat, and its laptop track pads were home to as many as paper money. So yeah, your computer could probably use a wipe down. And while you're at it, clean up a few files, too, as WIRED recommends.

First, before you do anything, make sure to turn your computer off and unplug any external keyboards or computer mice you intend to clean.

THE LAPTOP CASE

Once everything is powered down, you can take a damp cloth or sponge to the exteriors. Don't use anything stronger than a diluted soap, and make sure that you're using as little liquid as possible on a wrung-out microfiber cloth or a sponge. Dummies recommends five parts water, one part mild dish detergent for the job, while Apple cautions against using window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide to clean a display screen, as well as spraying anything directly onto your device. After you clean the outside of the laptop case with a damp cloth, wipe everything down again with a dry one to make sure you get rid of any excess liquid.

THE SCREEN

You want to be extra-careful while cleaning your screen, ensuring that you neither scratch it nor damage it with liquid. To do so, you’ll want to start out with just a dry, microfiber cloth before moving on to anything damp. If that doesn't do the trick, try a microfiber cloth dampened with just water. If all else fails, you can buy specific screen-cleaning wipes designed for the task, or use that same diluted soap mixture as CNET recommends. Again, if you're going to use water, make sure to wring out as much liquid as you can from the sponge or towel so that you don't get your screen all wet. (This will work for your TV screen as well.)

THE KEYBOARD

When it comes to cleaning your keyboard, you need to be very cautious about not letting water get in under the keys. Use a can of compressed air or a small vacuum to get rid of any crumbs that might have gotten in between the keys. Hold your keyboard up at a 75° angle while you spray the compressed air inside, rotating the keyboard as you go, to get the most crumbs to fall out. (It should be not-quite vertical, Apple says.) Then, break out a bottle of rubbing alcohol, which evaporates faster than water and won't leave any traces of oil. Use an alcohol-dampened cloth to clean the grease from your keyboard keys, then use Q-tips to clean the areas between the keys. Again, you want to keep things pretty dry, so don't overdo it with the liquid, and don't stick the Q-tip inside the keys—just scrub in the areas between them.

THE TRACKPAD AND MOUSE

Next, you should tackle the trackpad with another damp, lint-free cloth, cleaning off the oils that have accumulated there with alcohol or water. If you're using a mouse with a sensor (rather than a ball), you can use compressed air to clean out any debris. Then, just wipe the exterior down as you did the rest of your devices.

CLUTTERED FILES

Once your laptop's outsides are squeaky clean, you may want to clean up some digital junk to keep your computer running smoothly. Delete all the useless screenshots from your desktop, clear out your downloads folder, and empty your trash can. Take a look in your applications, and delete programs that you never use. If you have Mac's latest OS, High Sierra, your laptop will actually do some of this cleanup for you—there is a "reduce clutter" option if you go to About This Mac > Storage. As a last step, you may want to update your operating system and applications.

9 Amazon Prime Perks You Might Be Missing Out On

iStock.com/jahcottontail143
iStock.com/jahcottontail143

From diapers to camera equipment to jewelry, you can buy just about anything on Amazon and have it delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days—or in some cases, even hours. If you buy from the retailer often enough, its Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping, will save you far more than the $119 it costs to subscribe.

Your Prime membership offers a lot more than free shipping, though. To get even more out of Prime, don't forget to take full advantage of all its extra perks.

1. Photo Storage

Woman on computer next to camera
iStock.com/vgajic

One of the most convenient perks of your Prime membership is unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive. You can add photos from your phone or computer and access them from your devices. You also have the option to back up those photos automatically with the Amazon Photos app. This way, you can free up precious storage space on your phone. Amazon says it doesn't adjust or reduce the quality of your images, either.

In addition to unlimited photo storage, Prime members also get 5 GB of data storage for free, which is useful for saving videos and other files.

2. Grocery Delivery

A grocery cart on top of iPhone
iStock.com/adventtr

With Prime Pantry, you can skip the supermarket and have grocery staples delivered to your door. For a flat fee of $5.99, you can order all the kitchen, household, and pet care items you can fit in a box. Each time you add an order to your virtual Pantry box, Amazon will tell you how much room you have left. And if the order is over $35, Prime members get free delivery.

3. Music, Movies, and TV Shows

Amazon Prime Video app on Apple TV
iStock.com/marcoventuriniautieri

Prime members also get access to Prime Video, where they can find a huge selection of free movies and TV shows, including its original programming. Similarly, Prime Music includes a massive collection of streaming music from top artists. The songs are ad-free and you can download them to your device in order to listen to them even when you’re not connected to data.

Prime also gives away free entertainment credits via its “no-rush shipping” option. Your Prime membership comes with free two-day shipping, but if you choose a later delivery date, you can score digital credits toward eBooks, music, videos, and apps.

4. Free Kindle eBooks

A Kindle Paperwhite on display
David McNew, Getty Images

If you're a Prime member with a Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet, you also have access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. It's like a digital public library that offers access to hundreds of thousands of books.

The catch is that you can only borrow one title a month, and the available titles change every month. However, there are no due dates, so if it takes you a few months to finish a book, you don't have to worry about late fees.

5. Steeper Discounts on Some Products

baby products
iStock.com/Steve Debenport

If you have a young child or infant, you can score discounts on supplies with Amazon Family, which offers 20 percent off certain product subscriptions (like diapers and baby food) through Amazon Subscribe & Save. If you use Amazon Family to register for gifts, you also get a 15 percent completion discount on some items, which basically means you'll get a price cut on any items left on your registry.

Even if you’re not a parent, Amazon's Subscribe & Save option can help cut the cost of certain products. You get up to 15 percent off household items when you opt to receive at least five of those products periodically—you set the schedule, so you decide whether that new bag of dog food is delivered every week or month.

6. Early Access to Deals

Amazon homepage
iStock.com

Amazon's Lightning Deals can be hit or miss, but if you have Prime, you can scope them out early. Amazon allows Prime members to check out what's on sale 30 minutes before anyone else, which can help you snag popular items that will sell out fast.

And on Amazon Prime Day, Prime members are privy to even more deals.

7. Two-Hour Delivery

Scarlett Moffatt of Gogglebox with Prime Now package
Andrew Benge, Getty Images for Amazon

If you need something in a rush, Amazon will ship items from local stores, depending on your Zip code, with free two-hour delivery. This service is called Prime Now, and it is, of course, only available to Prime customers. It includes over 10,000 items, many of which are household staples like cleaning products, toiletries, and food. However, it also includes some electronics like video games, chargers, and computer accessories.

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has added the grocery chain to its Prime Now service in select cities, too. They're testing Whole Foods delivery in a number of major metro areas before rolling it out nationwide.

8. Twitch Prime

Hands on a controller playing a video game
iStock.com/scyther5

Twitch is a live video streaming service for gamers. And since Amazon purchased the company in 2014, you can now get Twitch Prime membership for free with Amazon Prime.

Each month, Twitch members get "free game loot," which includes access to a new game. You can also watch other gamers stream their videos ad-free, and you get one free channel subscription every 30 days. If you already have Amazon Prime, you simply need to link your account to Twitch Prime.

9. Amazon Elements

Amazon Elements Baby Wipes
Amazon

For the socially conscious shopper, Amazon launched Amazon Elements, a shopping portal that includes a line of "premium products."

With Amazon Elements, Amazon only partners with suppliers that meet its "high-quality and safety standards." For now, the selection of products on Elements is scarce. Categories are limited to vitamins and baby wipes. You can dig deeper into the sourcing of these products, though, and review the item's quality report as well as ingredient and product origins via the Amazon app.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

University of California and McMaster University Are Offering Their Learning How to Learn Course Online for Free

Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you've ever stayed up late cramming information the night before an exam, it probably didn't go well. Or maybe you tried doing the right thing by spending days or even months studying a subject, only to realize you weren't retaining the information. These failed attempts may have you believe you're just not cut out for the subject matter, but that's not always true. In the course Learning How to Learn from Coursera, you can understand what it takes to truly understand new information, as well as the key strategies and habits you can employ to make it all stick.

Learning How to Learn is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning at McMaster University, along with Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who holds the Francis Crick Chair at the Salk Institute and is a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the weeks, they’ll teach you how to combat procrastination, how our brains process information, and the importance of breaking up new material into bite-sized chunks. You’ll also cover how taking breaks, getting sleep, and exercising are just as important as studying when it comes to learning something new.

According to Coursera, to finish the class in the typical four-week time, most students devote about three hours a week to the online videos, readings, quizzes, and coursework. There’s also no need to cram—which you’ll learn is not an effective learning tool—as this course is self-paced.

The course itself is free, but if you want a certificate of completion to share on your LinkedIn and resume, it will cost $49. Signing up for the certificate also gives you access to graded assignments, whereas the free version only allows you to read the course material.

You can also check out more free classes offered by Ivy League colleges by heading here.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER