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How to sanitize your rugged laptops and tech tools

Follow this step-by-step guide to remove dirt, germs and other contaminants from your computing devices


Sponsored by Dell

By FireRescue1 BrandFocus Staff

Your laptop, tablet, smartphone and other mobile computing devices are among the most high-touch surfaces you encounter on the job. Keeping them properly clean and sanitized is more important than ever – but it’s also important to do it properly to protect these critical tools.

Keeping your mobile computing devices clean and sanitized is more important than ever. Here’s how to effectively disinfect your rugged electronics to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Keeping your mobile computing devices clean and sanitized is more important than ever. Here’s how to effectively disinfect your rugged electronics to combat the spread of COVID-19. (image/Getty)

This step-by-step guide covers how to effectively clean and sanitize your rugged electronics to combat the spread of infectious particles like the virus that causes COVID-19.

Step 1: Power down and disconnect

Turn off the equipment you plan to clean and disconnect the power. You should never clean an electronic device while it is powered on or plugged in.

Also disconnect all external devices and remove the batteries from any wireless peripherals (like keyboards).

Step 2: Use the proper cleaning materials

To protect your hands and get the most thorough cleaning, you should don disposable gloves before cleaning.

Choose a solution that will clean and disinfect without damaging your equipment. Always read the labels of cleaning products before using them to know exactly what they contain. Dell recommends a disinfecting solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water, as other cleaning chemicals can damage surfaces.

Never spray liquids directly onto equipment. Instead, dampen a cloth with the alcohol solution. Dell recommends using a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching surfaces.

Step 3: Wipe with care

When cleaning the display or touchscreen, carefully wipe in one direction, moving in overlapping strokes from the top of the display to the bottom. Gently but firmly wipe across other surfaces in a uniform manner.

Although rugged devices are designed and tested for resistance to dust, water and other potential hazards, you should still take care to avoid introducing excess moisture into crevices, such as the spaces between keyboard keys, display panel edges and USB ports.

Step 4: Allow to air dry

Once everything has been carefully wiped down, all surfaces must be allowed to air dry completely. After cleaning or disinfecting a glass surface, it may be cleaned again using a glass cleaner designed for display surfaces following directions for that specific cleaner. Avoid products containing ammonia.

Be sure there is no moisture visible on any surface before plugging the equipment and devices back in and turning them on.

Step 5: Wash your hands

When you’re done, discard the gloves and wash your hands.

Rugged electronics can withstand COVID-19 disinfection

Although the finishes of some standard computer equipment may be affected over time as a result of the process outlined above, rugged products are made to a higher standard and should not degrade.

For example, Dell tests how its rugged tablets and notebooks stand up to sanitizing and chemical solutions to ensure that they can withstand regular cleaning and sanitizing.

  • In one such test procedure, an auto-wash mitt was saturated with eight sprays of a medical-grade sanitizing solution, and then the product was wiped down a total of 250 times.
  • In another test, drops of a chemical solution (bleach or alcohol) were left to stand on parts of the rugged laptops and tablets for 10 days. The electronics were then inspected for cosmetic blemishes and material damage, and no cracks or deformation were found.

Although UV light has been touted by some as an effective disinfectant for the coronavirus, there is currently no testing data for this method and its effects on rugged electronics.

Check with your OEM

There are plenty of resources available for cleaning and disinfecting guidance – but choose your sources carefully. Your best bet is your rugged equipment’s original manufacturer. For example, Dell provides tips and tutorials answers on its YouTube channel and answers user questions through Facebook and Twitter, as well as the Dell users forum.

Visit Dell for more information.

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