Device Care: How to Optimize and Clean Your Laptop and Smartphone

These cleaning and battery-optimizing tips will help your devices work to their full potential.

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To perform our best, we need our smartphones and laptops to operate at maximum efficiency, and for as long as possible. How do you get the most out of your devices? Battery optimization and regular cleaning go a long way.

Optimizing Your Laptop and Smartphone

These tips will help extend battery life, optimize battery charging and improve overall performance. 

Manage Screen Brightness

You can save yourself a significant amount of power by lowering your device’s brightness level. Once you’ve adjusted your screen’s brightness, keep it fixed at that setting by turning off adaptive brightness, which automatically changes a device’s brightness to fit ambient lighting conditions:

  • iPhone: Settings → Display & Brightness → turn off True Tone. Note: True Tone isn’t a feature on iPhone 7 and earlier. 
  • Android: Settings → Display → turn off Adaptive Brightness
  • macOS: System Preferences → Displays → Brightness → uncheck “Automatically adjust brightness” 
  • Windows: Settings → System → Display → Brightness and color → turn off the option to “change brightness automatically when lighting changes”
    Note: You won’t see this option if your computer doesn’t have a light sensor, as it won’t be able to accommodate the automatic brightness feature. You can also use the slider bar to reduce the screen brightness.     

Adjust Screen Saver Settings

You can set your smartphone and laptop display settings to turn off the screen after just a few minutes of inactivity: 

  • iPhone: Settings → Display & Brightness → select a time under Auto-Lock
    Note: If you’re in Low Power Mode, Auto-Lock is set to 30 seconds and cannot be changed.
  • Android: Settings → Security → Automatically lock → select a time
  • macOS: System Preferences → Desktop & Screen Saver → Screen Saver → select a time under “Start after:”
  • Windows: Settings → Personalization → Lock Screen → Screen Saver Settings → select a time under “Wait:”

Lighten the Load on Your CPU

Save battery and help improve general performance by limiting the number of tasks your device is running at a time. Reduce CPU usage by:

  • Closing apps or programs that aren’t in use
  • Closing old tabs — particularly those that hog computer memory
  • Turning off background activity:
    • iPhone: Settings → Battery → turn on Low Power Mode, which automatically disables certain background processes
    • Android: Settings → Battery → turn on Adaptive Battery, which limits battery usage for apps you don’t use often.
    • macOS: Applications folder → Utilities → Activity Monitor → View → My Processes → select a process that’s using a large percentage of CPU, click the X icon and click Quit
      Note: The process will only quit when it’s safe to do so, unlike the Force Quit option. 
    • Windows: Settings → Privacy → Background apps → turn off the option to let apps run in the background

Boost Battery-Charging Efficiency

How you charge your device will impact charging speed. To improve battery-charging efficiency:

  • Plug your phone charger into the wall instead of into your laptop (and unplug it after it’s fully charged).
  • Use a wired phone charger instead of a wireless alternative.
  • Take a look at iPhone’s Optimized Battery Charging settings for quicker charging. The feature is helpful for long-term battery health, but it slows down individual charges, so turn it off if you need to charge your phone in a hurry.

Cleaning Your Devices

You might be surprised at the grime that sticks to electronics, so make sure to clean yours regularly. Cleaning your devices will not only help you reduce harmful bacteria, it will also make your electronics easier to use. Here are a few best practices to properly clean your devices without damaging them.

Power Down

Before you clean anything, turn off your device and unplug any wires to avoid damaging hardware or accidentally pressing a button that deletes important data. 

Clean Hard-to-Reach Areas 

Take care of the crevices and tiny openings on your device that collect debris before cleaning screens and surfaces. You can use a can of compressed air to clean under your laptop keyboard — do this in an area that can handle the debris, such as outdoors or over a garbage can:

  1. Turn over your laptop and shake it to get loose debris out of the keyboard.
  2. Make sure the straw on the can of compressed air is connected and the can is right side up before use.
  3. Tip your laptop down so your keyboard is almost perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Spray the keys in a zigzag motion.

To clean your smartphone or laptop’s jacks and ports, gently dip a dry cotton swab into each opening to loosen dust and dirt. If you’re dealing with a particularly small port, use a toothpick.

Clean Device Screens

Find out what kind of screen your device has before buying cleaning supplies, as some solutions can damage certain materials. For example, avoid using rubbing alcohol on LCD screens. Research your device or contact the manufacturer to see which supplies are safe to use.

With that in mind, you’ll want to accomplish two things: clean the surface of your screen, then remove germs and bacteria. You’ll need:

  • Microfiber cloth: Rougher items like paper towels and household rags could damage your screen.
  • Disinfecting wipes: Lysol and Clorox wipes are safe on electronics, but avoid products with bleach. Also take care with cleaning sprays, as they can easily leak liquid into your device.

To clean your screen safely:

  1. Wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth to remove dust, dirt and fingerprints.
  2. Clean the screen with a disinfecting wipe, taking care to avoid openings like ports and speakers. 
  3. Let the disinfectant dry before using the device.

Clean the Remaining Surfaces

With the screen taken care of, your smartphone is ready. But your laptop’s keyboard and touchpad still need cleaning:

  1. Squeeze a disinfecting wipe to eliminate excess moisture.
  2. Gently wipe all surfaces — buttons, keys, touchpad — with the wipe.
  3. Use a cotton swab to remove any gunk between keys; do this over a trash can to catch debris.
  4. Let the laptop dry before using. 

Need further assistance? Contact Staples’ Tech Services