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One-A-Day Gift Guide: The $25 Gadget Cleanse

Your gadgets are covered in microbes, and your screens are smeared with grease. An ultra-basic care package for your germaphobic friends and family.

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This might not strike you as the most thoughtful or intimate gift, but for a certain type of person it could actually mean a lot. This $25 package — wrap to taste — contains the three pillars of electronic cleanliness: compressed air, a package of microfiber chamois, and household isopropyl alcohol. This is almost all you need to keep your laptop, desktop, phone, tablet, TV, controllers and remotes reasonably clean and sterile. Well, sterile enough not to make you sick.

Just include this simple set of instructions and rules with the gifts, which you can order here and here (get the alcohol at a drug store, either at about 50% concentration or a concentration you can easily water down to 50%):

1) Compressed air knocks the dirt and particulate matter out of keyboards and fan grilles, and clears the dust out of tangles of wires.

If the dust is lodged in an intake — like at the side of a laptop an Xbox, run a damp cloth over it instead. The air will just force the dust into the machine where it can do actual damage.

2) To clean most screens, a dry microfiber chamois will be enough. For stubborn splotches or grease, a 50/50 isopropyl alcohol mixture is plenty strong. As a general rule, don't apply alcohol to plastic screens. It's usually safe but some polymer display treatments can become corroded and foggy.

3) For everything else — that is, all your plastic and metal electronics — an alcohol-dampened paper towel will strip away grime and grease without any trouble. Follow with a chamois polish and your gear will look mostly new.

Contact John Herrman at

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