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Expert Insights: Cleaning Your Media Devices with Anthony Scarsella of Gazelle

February 26, 2013

by Michelle LaRowe
Editor in Chief

Not long ago I was on the phone with my mother, helping her sort through an issue she was having. Being the good mom that I am, I sat my young children down at the table and gave them a snack, so I could finish the call. While they were snacking, they were also playing on the family iPod Touch together. Being the helpful kids that they are, when they went to wash their hands from having their snack, they brought the iPod along too. It had fingerprints on it and was sticky, so of course they wanted to clean it off. I heard the water running a little too long, went in the bathroom, and both kids were sitting on the floor, scrubbing the iPod clean with a soaking wet, soapy towel. I tried to save the iPod to no avail. After our incident I reached out to Anthony Scarsella of Gazelle to learn if there was anything else I could do to bring life back to my broken iPod. I got a real-life lesson on how to properly clean electronics and thought I’d share that lesson with you too.

eNannySource: What are the best tips for cleaning an iPhone?

Anthony: Every month or so you should give your device a good cleaning. Remember, phones are more likely to carry bacteria than any other electronic gadget. It’s important to always power off your device before performing any of the cleaning steps below.

First, grab yourself a microfiber cleaning cloth and a gadget-safe cleaning solution. Brasso and Zagg are good brands. Always spray the cleaner on the rag – never spray it directly on the device. Next, grab a compressed Air Can that’s meant for use with electronics. These are available at Office Depot, NewEgg, Staples and most office supply stores. Clean out all the ports on the device, including the headset jack, connector port and SIM card slot. Finally, re-apply your screen protector and case, and then power your device back on. This is always a good time to back up your phone with iTunes as well. I recommend doing a back-up simultaneously with your monthly phone cleaning.

eNannySource: Speaking of backing-up, what’s the best way to back-up?

Anthony: I advise people to back-up their phone every 30 days using the approved method for your device. Some of the primary methods include iTunes, Google and USB sync.

When it comes time to sell or get rid of your device, though, I remind people to remove all of the personal data that exists on their device. To do this, follow the factory reset instructions in the device manual to perform a full factory reset. You should also remove SIM cards and memory cards. Most often, data stored on these types of external cards do not get wiped out with a reset.

eNannySource: Back to cleaning, what items should you use to clean your devices? What items should you never use?

Anthony: Brasso, Zagg and Monkey Spunk are great products designed just for cleaning electronics. Never use any harsh detergents or any alcohol or ammonia based cleaners. These could damage the finish of your device and, in extreme cases, can even damage the device internals.

eNannySource: Is there a best product for cleaning the screen of a device?

Anthony: AppleJuice 8oz. screen cleaning kit is great for screens. It is safe and iPhone 5 approved. Zagg wipes are also great if you need a quick wipe down of the entire gadget, including the screen. It’s important to remember that the screen on smartphones and tablets holds a lot of the value, so you’ll want to be sure to take extra good care of the screen. I always recommend a good screen cleaning every 30 days along with a new screen protector film install.

eNannySource: What about water damage? Can it be corrected?

Anthony: If your phone comes into contact with water or another liquid, resist the urge to panic while the liquid saturates the internal components. Instead, follow these simple steps to prevent lasting damage.

  • Step 1: Remove your phone from the liquid and power off your device. Due to their conductive natures, water and other liquids short-circuit electronics. Do not power on your phone, charge it or connect it to other devices without it having proper time to dry.
  • Step 2: Dry your phone with a soft, absorbent cloth and carefully wipe down the headphone jack and charge port. If you can remove the back cover and take out the battery, do it. If your phone is a GSM/AT&T model, remove and dry the SIM card and tray. Evaporating liquid with a heat source causes additional damage and is not recommended.
  • Step 3: Lay your phone in a safe, dry place. Allow at least 48 hours for the liquid to evaporate before reinserting the SIM components or turning on the phone.

If the above doesn’t seem to work, consider using an alternative drying method by placing the phone in rice. The best way to do this is to place your phone in a plastic bag filled with uncooked rice. The rice facilitates the evaporation process since dry rice grains act as a safe, natural alternative to other desiccants, such as silica gel. The rice grains actually absorb excess liquid while being too large to enter ports or separations in the phone body.

If your phone cannot be saved, don’t fear. You can sell your broken device to Gazelle. Believe it or not, broken iPhones and iPads are worth far more than you think. Currently, you can get up to $130 for a broken iPhone.

Anthony Scarsella is the Chief Gadget Officer at Gazelle. In this role, he serves as the consumer device expert, monitoring trade-in activities for www.Gazelle.com, and managing the availability of the latest and greatest consumer tech gadgets and how they will impact the consumer tech market.


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