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How do you clean your fabric-covered smart speaker? Carefully

How do you clean your fabric-covered smart speaker? Carefully


Many of today’s smart home devices come covered with attractive but almost impossible-to-clean fabric. Here are some tips on keeping them reasonably clean.

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Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

At a staff meeting this afternoon here at The Verge, several people started complaining about the problem of keeping their fabric-covered tech clean. It turned out that this is definitely a problem in search of a solution.

For example, if you are keeping an Apple HomePod Mini, a Google Assistant speaker, or an Amazon Echo in your kitchen, the device is going to start accumulating crumbs and grease really quickly. Not to mention the pet hair that the fabric is going to attract or what it will look like after being carried from room to room by grubby little four-year-old hands.

So how do you keep them clean?

I looked it up in various sources, and most agreed: there are a few things you can do to try to keep the surface of your fabric-covered tech reasonably clean. However, your options are limited.

Here are some of the things you can do to try to get the crud off your fabric-covered tech.

The fourth-gen Echo Dot sitting on a table.
If you think the skeletons are scary, wait until you check out how much dust is clinging to your Echo Dot.
Image: Dan Seifert / The Verge

Get rid of dust, hair, and tiny crumbs

If your speaker or other fabric-covered device has attracted pet hair, dust, or other annoying types of dirt, there are several things you can try.

  • The most suggested method is to use a microfiber cloth to wipe up all that stray detritus.
  • If your device is really dense with hair or crumbs, a small vacuum — or a small attachment to your vacuum — could suck away the nastiness. However, be careful that you don’t use too much suction.
  • Another alternative is a lint or pet hair roller.

A note of warning: it is not advisable to use a can of compressed air to force crumbs or other dirt off a speaker or other device — the pressure of that air can damage fragile parts.

But what about stains?

  • If you have a light stain, you might be able to get rid of it using a slightly dampened microfiber cloth.
  • According to Amazon, you can clean an Echo or Echo Dot “with a soft cloth that is slightly damp with water and a touch of rubbing alcohol.” However, most other manufacturers’ sites are more strict. Apple is very clear: it says to clean your HomePod “gently and only with a dry cloth.” Google says much the same about its Nest products.
  • If you have a stubborn stain, I’ve seen some sites that suggest a slightly dampened, soft-bristled toothbrush.

And everyone is in agreement: if you want to keep your device in working condition, don’t use a cloth soaked in alcohol, spray it with window cleaner, or, in fact, use anything but water (or Amazon’s touch of alcohol) to dampen your cloth. And if that doesn’t get off the stain — well, maybe you’ll just have to turn that part of your HomePod, Echo, or Nest speaker to the wall where nobody else will see it.