You might not want to hear it, but it’s time to clean up |

You might not want to hear it, but it’s time to clean up

Someone has to do the dirty work, and today, it looks like I am that someone.

I’m here to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear. So I’ll just get it over with, then move on to the tips that will make the process easy as cake … deep breath … YOU NEED TO DO SOME CLEANING!

If you plan to test out the advice in any of my future columns, you’re going to need a functioning monitor and keyboard. You simply cannot type in lengthy URLs or test out secret shortcuts if your keyboard keys are jamming up or if there are two inches of pine dust accumulation on your monitor. And besides, think of all the gunk and germs and bacteria and bits of food and who knows what else is clinging to your keyboard keys. Ewwww! Let’s take care of that, shall we? It’s just unsanitary, people.

And NO, you DO NOT just take a wet rag and wipe everything down once in a while. Though not an art, keeping your equipment clean does require following a few guidelines. As always, I’m going to make this as simple as possible to encourage your participation. Wipe that I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this frown off your face and get moving.


Let’s first tackle those gigantic dust and dirt magnets otherwise known as monitors (thank the electrical charge in your monitor for attracting all the dust.) If you allow layers of dust to build up on your monitor, they will begin to act like insulation and will cause heat to build up in your monitor, meaning the electric components will wear out much faster than they normally would.

No. 1 rule here: Don’t use glass-cleaning liquid on your screen! This includes Windex. Your monitor might have a special anti-glare coating that ammonia-based solutions can damage. Plus, they can drip down into your monitor case, and we don’t want that. Use a soft cloth instead of paper towels, because the latter can cause tiny scratches.

Your best option is to use cleaning solutions and pads specifically designed for monitors (take a look at If you’re like most people, though, you probably just rolled your eyes and thought, “yeah right, eRin. Let me go out and buy those special products for my wimpy little monitor RIGHT NOW.” That’s why you should know that the runner-up cleaning option here is to use water sprayed on an eyeglass cloth.

SECRET MONITOR CLEANING TIP OF THE DAY: Fabric softener sheets are great antistatic wipes that pick up dust and dirt from your screen. They can also be used to wipe dirt off your monitor case.

Lastly, always remember the following two things. One: no matter what you use to clean your monitor, don’t apply it directly to the screen; pour or spray the solution onto your cleaning cloth first. Two: never open a monitor case! Monitors store a lot of voltage and can cause severe electrical shock. So go on and tell all your enemies to open up your monitor case, but don’t do it yourself.


Not only can the crumbs and crud that clog your keyboard cause malfunctions and sticky keys, but the bacteria and germs on the keys can make you sick. Therefore: get cleaning!

Oh, stop pouting. No one ever told you that cleaning your keyboard would be incredibly fun (blasting loud music in the background makes this process bearable, I promise).

To begin the process, first turn your computer off, then go ahead and flip your keyboard upside down and shake, shake, shake. Watch all the dirt and crumbs fall out (remember to have your significant other vacuum the floor later). While you’re shaking your keyboard to the loud music, give it a good hard whack on the back, too. You’ll be amazed at all the junk that falls out. If you’re lucky, you might even end up with some spare change.

The next part is SO fun.

Take a can of compressed air (or a very small vacuum) and spray, spray, spray additional gunk out from in between the keys. Remember to use small bursts and blow in outward directions. Compressed air is so fun!

Next we’re going to clean off the top of the keyboard. We don’t want any type of liquid getting inside, so be careful here. Dip a cotton swab in some alcohol and wipe the keys to clean off the remaining grime, gunk and thriving bacteria. Try not to overdo it with the alcohol (as usual … ). The black lettering on some keyboards can start to come off if you go overboard. If one of your keys is sticking, just pop the key off and use a cotton swab with a teensy bit of WD-40 to clean the problem area.

And that’s it. Go be good readers and clean your monitors and keyboards. You can have some Nutella if you do a good job. Well, at least I’ll have some Nutella, no matter what you do.

Sidenote: By the way, the all-new timeforcake site is up and running! Tell me what you think: See you next week.

Based in Frisco, eRin pheiL is the primary creative force behind timeforcake (

She can be reached via phone at (970) 668-0709 or e-mail at

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