Best Ways to Clean a Laptop
Studies have found that computer keyboards have more germs on them than the average toilet seat. Yuck! And that’s just the keyboard. But what about devices like laptops where everything is connected?
When you’re working on your laptop and you sneeze without covering your nose some of those particles are going to end up sprayed across your monitor, whether you can see them or not. Or, if your nose is running, and you wipe it with your hand and then use that hand to type, you may have just transferred germs to your keyboard. (This can occur even if you use a tissue.)
Even if you aren't sick, there are many things you probably do while using your laptop that can promote germ and bacterial growth without even realizing it – like eating in front of your computer. When you snack in front of your computer, small particles fall off, lodging themselves in your keyboard and other areas. These can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria.
While it’s a good idea to clean anything you touch regularly, it is particularly important to clean your laptop and other frequently used technology devices. However, because of the sensitive nature of electronics, you can’t just clean your laptop with any only cleanser you have lying around. Doing so can cause damage, and may render your laptop unusable.
In order to properly clean your laptop, you’re going to have to gather a few things. But don’t worry, you probably have most of these items already.
Clean at your own risk. While these directions have been tested and used successfully many times, I am not responsible for any damage incurred due to following the directions outlined in this hub. Due to the sensitive nature of electronics, if you are ever in doubt or have questions or concerns, please speak with your local computer/IT expert.
- 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (not rubbing alcohol)
- Canned Air
- Cotton Swabs
- Electronics Vacuum (optional)
- Microfiber Dusting Cloth
- Spray Bottle
Never spray cleaners directly on your laptop. Instead, spray onto the cloth and then wipe the device clean. The cloth should be damp, but not dripping wet.
Remember to shut down and turn off your laptop before cleaning.
Always clean your laptop after a major illness such as a cold or flu.
Cleaning a Laptop Keyboard
Not only do keyboards have lots of crevices and small unseen areas where crumbs, dirt, bacteria, and other nasties live, but it’s also one of the most touched parts of the laptop. And, because we touch the keyboard with our fingers, we often transfer those germs to our environment, and our person, without realizing it.
Luckily, cleaning your keyboard isn’t too difficult.
Turn your laptop off, and then gather the canned air, cleaning cloths, cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol, empty spray bottle, and the electronics vacuum (optional).
If you have an electronics vacuum, use it first to suck up any large particles and crumbs on the surface of the keyboard. Note, if you don’t have an electronics vacuum, skip to the next step.
If your laptop is particularly dirty, you may want to take it outside for this next step. Turn your laptop on its side, and carefully spray the keyboard with the canned air, making sure to get all the cracks and crevices.
At this point you will probably see some large particles coming from your keyboard, especially if it’s never been cleaned before. Continue spraying with air until all the crumbs, hairs, and other particles cease to pour out of the keyboard.
Once it’s cleaned of large chunks, it’s time to actually clean the keyboard. Make a mix of 50% water, 50% isopropyl alcohol in your spray bottle. Mix it together, then spray your cleaning cloth. You want your cloth damp, but not dripping wet.
Wipe down your entire keyboard, focusing on any heavily soiled spots. Don’t forget to clean any visible spaces between rows. Wipe down the rest of the keyboard area too, including areas without keys and the track pad and its buttons.
For stubborn dirt, take some cotton swabs and dip them in the isopropyl alcohol. Make sure they are damp, but not dripping wet. Use the cotton swab to gently scrub any dark spots or difficult dirt areas.
Continue cleaning until your keyboard is clean and spot free. If it was really dirty, you may be surprised what clean actually looks like.
Monitor Cleaning Tip
To make sure you have cleaned every inch of your monitor, take it into a brightly lit area where light is shining directly onto the screen. The brightness of the light on the monitor will help show any noticeable spots you may have missed.
Cleaning a Laptop Monitor
Once your keyboard it clean, it’s time to move up and focus on the monitor. It is important to only use cleaners that are made specifically for monitors, as some cleaners could mess up your display.
You can pick up LCD cleaner at any electronics or computer store, or make your own. To make some at home, either use a mix of distilled water and white vinegar, or use the 50/50 solution of water and isopropyl that was mixed to clean the keyboard.
First, wipe your monitor with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. This will remove any smudges, like finger prints. Then, spray your cleaning mixture onto the cloth. It should be damp, but not dripping.
While it doesn't really matter how you wipe down your monitor, it’s best to do it systematically to avoid streaks. Try wiping it vertically, moving from top to bottom, left to right, until the entire display is clean. Then, wipe it horizontally, moving from left to right, top to bottom, until you have wiped the entire surface.
If you have stubborn spots, you may want to re-spray a corner of your cloth, and gently work at the spots with the damp corner. Even if you’re cleaning a stubborn area, remember to be gentle as it is easy to damage and scratch LCD's.
Continue spraying the cloth, wiping, and cleaning until your monitor is sparkly and streak free. Remember to wipe down the plastic surrounding the screen too.
If your laptop is shared between multiple users, clean it between uses to ensure you don’t pick up someone else’s germs.
Cleaning the Rest of Your Laptop Case
Once the keyboard and monitor are cleaned, it’s time to clean the outside of the laptop.
Close the lid of the laptop. With your canned air, spray any vents, crevices, or other areas where dust or other large particles can hide. Then, gently wipe down the entire outside with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
If you have any stubborn spots, spray the cloth with the 50/50 water isopropyl alcohol mixture. For truly stuck on items, dip a cotton swab into the isopropyl alcohol (it shouldn’t be dripping wet), and hold the swab against the stubborn spot for a minute or two. Then scrub at it with the microfiber cloth. It should come up no problem. If not, hold the cotton swab on the spot for a bit longer before scrubbing.
Remember to be careful with how much pressure you put on your laptop while cleaning. You do not want to put so much pressure that you scratch the surface, or worse, crack the case or damage any of the components inside.
Once the outside case is cleaned, you’re done. You can now plug your laptop back in, turn it back on, and begin using it again.
Create a Cleaning Schedule
By now you've probably realized that cleaning your laptop doesn't take that long. In as little as 15 minutes or less, you could have a sparkling, germ free laptop that looks almost as good as new.
So why not create a regular cleaning schedule to ensure your laptop always looks its best? Put it on your monthly calendar and you’ll never have to deal with a dirty, germ ridden laptop again. And, with regular cleanings studies may find that your particular laptop is actually cleaner than the average toilet seat.