How to Clean a Credit Card Machine & POS System

Wiping POS system touchscreen

A credit card machine and point-of-sale (POS) system serve a purpose to help businesses process payment transactions.

Yet when you consider all the customers and employees who come into contact with the PIN pad, touchscreen, or stylus pen, it’s clear that sales aren’t the only thing it’s collecting. Your POS card reader can be a source of germs.

With COVID-19 top of mind, it’s more important than ever to keep your POS system in optimal condition – complete with regular cleaning and disinfecting. Not only will this help prevent the spread of germs, but it will also help improve the equipment’s performance and increase longevity.

To see what that entails, keep reading.

How to Keep Your POS Card Readers and System Clean

To help provide everyone with a safe shopping experience, there are several reasons why regular credit card reader cleaning and disinfecting is important.

1. Cleaning for Health and Public Safety

How do you deep clean your credit card reader so it doesn’t infect all the cashiers and customers who come into contact with it?

Achieving this level of clean requires using the proper solutions to kill the viruses and bacteria that make us sick. Note however that disinfecting surfaces won’t necessarily remove dirt and grime, but it can help stop the spread of germs.

While many different POS equipment and credit card reader providers have similar cleaning instructions, the directions below apply to First Data terminals.

To get started:

  • Turn off and unplug POS equipment
  • Put on gloves
  • Use a 75 percent ethyl alcohol wipe or disinfecting wipe that won’t damage touchscreens or other sensitive surfaces. Never spray liquid cleaner directly onto the device
  • Wipe hard, nonporous surfaces of the device gently with careful attention to the display, keypad, and other exterior surfaces that might be touched. Don’t forget to wipe cables, printers, and other peripherals
  • Avoid getting liquids into openings or seems. Use a dry cloth to clean areas where cards are swiped or dipped
  • Make sure the device is completely dry before powering up

Click here to watch a video on how to clean a Clover POS device

These are the basic steps. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts worth remembering:

  • Avoid using corrosive solutions, such as ketone-based solvents, bleach, trichloroethylene, or paint thinners, as a credit card reader cleaner. These chemicals can destroy the plastic components in many POS systems and credit card readers. Do not submerge device in any cleaning agents
  • Do not use on fabric or leather surfaces (i.e., device holders) and labels, as it may cause peeling
  • Consider keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer next to each credit card machine so cashiers and customers can disinfect their hands throughout the day
  • Make disinfecting your POS system a daily ritual. More frequent cleaning is even better

Refer to the manufacturer’s website for the appropriate cleaning procedures for your terminals.

Verifone -


Ingenico -

2. Cleaning for Performance

From time to time, particles and debris can get under keypad buttons and disrupt the functionality. Dirt and dust can also accumulate inside the card slot or magnetic swiper, making it difficult to read the card. It’s important to perform regular cleanings to optimize equipment performance.

Consider purchasing a terminal spill cover to protect your device. This is a customized plastic overlay that fits completely over your payment terminal to help ensure no harmful substances get into the keypad or onto the touchscreen. Additionally, it can be easily wiped down and disinfected, just like your equipment.

3. Cleaning for Aesthetics

No one wants to touch a dirty POS card reader. It’s not a good look for you or your business. It’s important to routinely clean all of your equipment with a damp microfiber cloth or some other non-abrasive material.

This will help remove visible dirt and some germs, but it won’t disinfect your equipment. Cleaning with a damp cloth is more about aesthetics than anything else.

One Final Tip to Keep Customers and Employees Safe

Want to further reduce germ transmission at the checkout counter? One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by investing in a POS credit card machine that uses near field communication (NFC) technology. Doing so allows customers to pay with their cards or phones for a contactless checkout experience.

If you’d like to learn more about POS systems, cleaning tips, or payment security, schedule a free consultation with our merchant services team today.