Looking for tips on how to clean VR headsets? You've come to the right place. Our VR headset cleaning guide will teach you the dos and don't of cleaning your VR headset, including how to clean VR lenses without damaging them.
Video games have always felt like something out of the future but virtual reality somehow takes things even further. There are quite a few options out there when you're looking for the best VR headsets, all with their own pros and cons. No matter which headset you own, it is going to be important to keep it clean and sanitized. You will be wearing it on your face for hours at a time, after all.
If you're looking for more tips to get the most out of your VR headset, we've got a ton of guides to help you out including how to build a PC for VR, and how to set up your room for VR. If you're struggling with motion sickness in VR, we've also got a guide to help you mitigate these symptoms too.
Why clean your VR headset?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists have found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19, “can be detected in aerosols for up to three hours” and on plastic for up to 72 hours. The influenza virus can live for the same amount of time and a runny nose will quickly end a VR session.
Health experts recommend washing our hands before we ever touch our face, and so that same logic should be applied to your VR headset, which stays on your face. It’ll be easier to zone out, disassociate, and venture off to faraway virtual worlds with the confidence that comes with a clean VR headset.
Check manufacturer's instructions
Before beginning, it’s important to check for any necessary information that could be specific to your headset. Vive, Oculus, and Index all have their own official pages that list important warnings. The companies also list important need-to-know details, like how to properly store equipment.
Helpful information can often be found on how to properly remove your particular headset’s face cushion. It’s important to check to ensure nothing gets damaged during the sanitation process.
Here are some general tips, preventive measures, and other actions you can take to keep your VR equipment safe and clean:
- Related: How to set up your room for VR
1. Always wash your hands before using your VR headset
This sounds simple but running to wash your hands isn’t the first thing to come to mind when most think about playing a VR game. It should be though!
Always wash your hands before using any VR equipment. Apply some hand sanitizer after your hands are completely dry for good measure. Being clean before you play is crucial, whether it’s just you or a whole group of friends.
2. Clean surfaces frequently
It’s important to clean equipment before using it but it’s also a good idea to regularly clean surfaces. And this doesn’t just apply to your headset and controllers.
Make sure to regularly clean surrounding surfaces. It’s one thing to have dust or dirt on a floor somewhere. It’s quite another thing entirely to wear it on your face.
Make sure to follow specific instructions for your TV/monitor area, along with any other furniture you’re cleaning. Headset holders and charge stands are a natural gathering area for germs so don’t forget to wipe these surfaces clean regularly as well. These can be easy to miss, especially if they’re tucked out of view or in another room.
3. Create a Routine
The CDC recommends routine cleaning for surfaces with more interaction. Areas with more people passing through and/or interactions may need to be cleaned more often. This will vary for everyone.
If your headset and controllers are in a low-traffic location in your living space, you may not need to clean them often. If they’re next to the TV in the living room then you may want to consider cleaning the area for a few minutes every day.
Consider your surroundings and needs and then work to create a routine to keep everything clean.
4. Choose between your health — or your headset’s.
Alcohol-based cleaning products appear to be most effective and recommended against COVID-19 but that comes with a big catch. Most equipment manufacturers specifically state not to use alcohol-based cleaning products on VR equipment. The reason typically given is that alcohol can dissolve some plastics in the long term, leading to durability and discoloration issues.
That’s your decision to make but it may be worth the risk long term, especially since you may end up upgrading to a newer and better VR headset before any noticeable damage. It’s a risk but certainly one worth considering.
5. Always Use a Microfiber Cloth to Clean Lenses
It can be tempting to grab a napkin or use your shirt to quickly clear up smudges but try to resist the urge. The lenses on VR headsets are very sensitive and can be scratched or damaged if they come into contact with abrasive cleaners or surfaces.
6. Compressed Air Can Help With Dust
A can of compressed air can help with dust stuck in hard-to-reach places. It’s also helpful for preventing dirt and dust from building up. Keep the can’s end several inches away and avoid pointing it directly at the lens; you don’t want to run the risk of blowing anything abrasive into or at the lenses. Spray it in shorter bursts and watch carefully where you blow.
7. Pack it Up
It’s easy to forgo important cleaning rituals, especially when you’re tired or running late. Try to resist the temptation to leave controllers on the floor and cords thrown out everywhere.
Staying organized is an important part of keeping things clean and sanitized. It’s easy to have a messy VR area though because we all lose track of time while we’re playing. Immersion is certainly an upside to playing in virtual reality but it also makes it easy to lose track of time.
An easy fix is a cell phone alarm on vibrate or a nearby stove timer. It’s never fun stopping but it’s best to pack it up at a good time so everything is cleaned and put away for another time.
Playing in VR is exciting and there’s no gaming experience quite like it. It’s just important to do whatever possible to keep the good times going, instead of your nose or something else.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This guidance should not overrule protocols your institution or doctor may already have in place. This is guidance collated from various sources that you may find helpful.