The crumbs, the liquid stains, the debris-grinding keyboard, and that shameful feeling you get anytime someone has to use your computer.
You’ll waste hours trying to solve a problem instead of asking a coworker for help, but eventually you sheepishly yield. They sit in your chair. You anxiously monitor their actions from 1.5 inches away from the base of their neck. 5 to 10 seconds will pass before your hot breath makes your helping friend fumble for a moment. You pounce on their errant click and use it as an excuse to snatch your filthy peripherals back saying you “don’t want (your co-worker) messing it up.” Or maybe you’ll falsely proclaim “ooohhhh, I get it now. Thank you! I got it from here!”
The truth is you’re ashamed. Your computer is filthy and you know it. You just never thought anyone else would have to use it. Even if no one else ever does, the mere sight of Doritos clogging a micro usb port is still off-putting.
Computers are very personal items, and our digital lives are reflections of ourselves. Letting someone use your device is like letting a stranger into your home, except “I’m sorry for the mess” doesn’t cut it here, because now your pizza fingers are their pizza fingers too, and if there’s an out-of-control fire in the attic, telling firefighters “everything is fine, I’ve got it from here” will not stop them from breaking down your door.
I’m referring to the exterior of your devices here:
Desktops and common peripherals like a mouse and keyboard, laptops, cellphones and tablets - cleaning these things is not difficult. Almost all common devices pass certain standards for durability and resistance to failure from things like water and dust. We’re talking about cleaning plastic and aluminum here (mostly), not 1 of your 4 CPU cores. In other words, if you’ve ever cleaned anything, you can clean your phone.
The preferred method is to use an electronics friendly solvent. I’ve found isopropyl alcohol and water go great together - heavier on the alcohol. Dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth, then wax on, wax off.
If you don’t have those supplies or are simply too slovenly to follow the instructions above, reach around you and grab the closest KFC napkin you can find, or a crumpled paper towel, or a dirty t-shirt. Heck, wipe your phone off on your pant leg, your arm chair, whatever.
Does the crust persist? Spit on it, then re-apply your absorbent of choice.
Just do something.
Clean your device. It’s just gross.