Clean machines & green beauty routine

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With the cold and flu season approaching, one place germs like to lurk is on that trusty cell phone.  More gross bacteria can also live on an IPod, laptop and mouse.  So, to help protect my family from the many sick germs just waiting to invade, I learned how to properly clean our machines so that they are safe…and still work.  Plus I'll show you how to sanitize and dispose of some beauty items the clean and green way.

Your dirty, grimy cell phone
While researching this topic, I found multiple studies citing that cell phones topped toilets when it comes to the number of germs and bacteria found on each.  Yuck!  As I paused to look at my own phone, the sunlight showed all kinds of fingerprints, streaks, makeup and who knows what else.  And with my kids constantly grabbing my cell, I can only imagine all of the little microorganisms that call my phone their home.  Again, ick!  So, I now wipe down my Droid daily. 

To do that, I take a lens cleaning cloth, that won't scratch the surface, and wipe away all that gunk.  I once tried using a sanitizing wipe and my phone screen started flashing and freaking out.  That is what prompted me to do this research.  Sure enough, cleaners are too abrasive for our electronics.  However, I have read that individually wrapped alcohol wipes work on quick keyboard cleaning, but skip the screen.  Only use the alcohol on the keyboard.

Keypad Cleaning
Sticky, icky keyboards can be a breeding ground for germs. Local computer expert Roman Acevedo with Advanced Integrated Systems recommends using a can of compressed air to clean a keyboard, but he warns to keep away from kids.  According to Roman, the cold air, when sprayed on skin, can cause 2nd degree burns!  I appreciate his warning! 

Compressed air cans be found at office supply stores.  I purchased the Office Max brand that sells for $7.99 for two 3.5 oz. cans.  These pressurized gas dusters remove dust and particles from computers and are 100% ozone safe. 

Another option that I read about in the September issue of Good Housekeeping magazine is to use a very soft brush like a baby's toothbrush to wipe away the dust.  The article also recommended using a tooth pick to gently work your way around the small spaces between the individual keys and the crevices around the balls of a mouse. 

Clean Screen Solutions
Computer screens can be a magnet for dust and dirt, so I asked Roman how to keep my screen smooth and shiny the correct way.  He recommends the cleaning wipes that are sold specifically for computer and television screens, but he also says a green solution is to use a lens cleaning cloth like I suggested for cell phones.  Roman also suggests an environmentally-friendly cleaning solution of plain distilled water.  If more heavy cleaning is needed, a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and distilled water can also be effective.  Be sure the cloth is damp, but not wet.  Too much moisture will damage the screen and PC.

Ear bud & IPod Ick
I'll admit it.  My ears are extra waxy and I can always tell when my IPod ick has become thick!  Good Housekeeping suggests using a small baby toothbrush to wipe away the gunk.  Check to see if your ear bud covers can be removed and if so, then soak them in a bowl of warm water with one drop of dish-washing liquid for 30 minutes.  You will be surprised how much your sound quality will improve with a regular clean routine for your ear stuff.

Clean curling iron ideas
Another germy tool that many of us use daily is a curling iron.  Clean these irons with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.  Tough hair spray residue may come off with a bit of nail polish remover containing acetone.  Be sure to try cleaning your curling iron before you throw it away because doing this is the green way to go and will save you money by not having to pay for a new one.

Hair brush help
Excess hair and product residue can reduce the effectiveness and lifespan of your brushes and combs.  Plus these beloved brushing tools can get nasty, so you want to clean these items frequently.  To start use a brush on a brush.  Take an existing brush or comb to actually brush through the item that needs to be cleaned.  To get to the stubborn areas of build-up, use the pick of the comb to degunk the brush.  Watch the segment to see a demo.  Next soak in a mixture of baking soda and a bit of dish washing detergent and then air dry on a towel.  Your hairstyle will look even better with a brush that is kept clean and functional.

Green routine rules
A lot of cosmetic products come in pretty packaging, but some of that gloss means a loss when it comes to going green.  If the box has a plastic cover exposing the product, it cannot be recycled.  However, if the box is a basic box, then go ahead and toss in your blue trash bin. 

Tons of cosmetic lotions and potions come in plastic containers and I thought that was good green news.  However, you must look at the code on the bottom of the bottle and if it does not have a 1 or 2, then it is trash that can't be recycled.  So, when shopping for your products, check the bottom of the bottle for the green go signal, the magic numbers of 1 or 2.  Plus the product must be cleaned out of the jar or it may not get recycled.

Some surprising and good news is that aerosol bottles like hair spray and shaving cream can be recycled right along with hair spray pumps, too.  Since these bottles tend to be made of steel, the blue bin welcomes these products. 

Unfortunately, mascara, lipstick and cosmetic pencils can't be recycled.  And even though nail polish comes in a glass bottle, the chemicals in the color are too toxic for recycling, even if you clean out the jar.  In fact, the City of Phoenix doesn't want to see the polish bottle in the green trash bin, either.  Save your discarded nail polish for the monthly household hazardous waste drop off.  Scheduled drop dates and guidelines can be found at or call (602) 262-7251 to get directions to the site nearest you. 

And since different Arizona cities may have different recycling rules, visit for valley wide regulations.

So, take some time to degunk your junk and make your beauty routine green.  Doing so will help you feel and look better.  This manic but managed mom is happy to report that my personal electronics are still overloaded, but are now at least clean and somewhat germ-free!

Rachel's computer expert is Roman Acevedo with Advanced Integrated Systems and he can be reached at 602-368-5161 or