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Best Ways to Clean a Laptop

Updated on May 23, 2016
A dramatization of germs on a laptop. CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr.
A dramatization of germs on a laptop. CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr. | Source

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Supplies Needed

  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (not rubbing alcohol)
  • Canned Air
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Electronics Vacuum (optional)
  • Microfiber Dusting Cloth
  • Spray Bottle

There are many great electronic cleaning products on the market - such as these Endust Electronics Wipes. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr.
There are many great electronic cleaning products on the market - such as these Endust Electronics Wipes. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr. | Source

Important Reminders

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.

Dirt can easily hide between the keys on keyboards, so clean your keys carefully. CC BY-2.0, via Flickr.
Dirt can easily hide between the keys on keyboards, so clean your keys carefully. CC BY-2.0, via Flickr. | Source

Tip

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.

Tip

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.

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    • Anselome profile image

      Steve Anselmo 4 years ago from Thunder Bay

      Great walkthrough! You went through the process to a tee. Very well done!

    • sara jhonson profile image

      Nitesh 4 years ago from Indore ,India

      Your tips are very important for me because my kids always spread on both the Laptops . Laptops need care and I regularly use it..................... your tips are amazing............

      Thanks

    • Iolani profile image

      Iolani 4 years ago from USA

      Really appreciable hubpage...Nice tips

    • anuramkumar profile image

      anuramkumar 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      Congrats for the HOTD! These are definitely useful tips for persons like me who uses it almost for 10-12 hours.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wow, do I ever need these tips! Fantastic job, voted way up and shared all around. Congratulations!

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I recently bought some electronic wipes which are good. I don't know if you can get canned air in this part of the world but I'm going to look for it. Sounds great. Great hub with lots of good suggestions.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Congratulation on the HOTD! Thanks for sharing this knowledge. It came handy to me as it´s time again for cleaning my laptop. Voted up and more;-)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I clean my laptop once in a week, start from LCD until the keyboard. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Unfortunately I don't type with my toilet seat. So I'm forced to clean my computer especially the keyboard. Great job on this very important task that most people fail to do. Voted Up!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      Everyone in my family has their own laptop and seems to be on it constantly. It hard to imagine how many germs are hiding in the keyboards and other little crevasses. I'm just getting over a bug, and will be sure to use your suggestions for cleaning up my laptop. I especially appreciate knowing how to make my own solution for cleaning the monitor as I'm always afraid of damaging it. Great hub and well deserved HOTD!

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 4 years ago

      Thank you, Thank you. I was just thinking the other day about how I need to clean my laptop keyboard and was actually going to Google how to clean it today. Now I will just follow your instructions. Voted up!

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Yup, spray those vents out with canned air. I would take it outside before you do if it's really dusty. You could also use an electronics vacuum if you don't have canned air. Or you could wipe them down with a clean, dry microfiber cloth, but that probably won't be as effective as the methods mentioned. Just make sure your laptop is off before you do any cleaning of this type.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image

      Kristen Haynie 4 years ago from Modesto, CA

      I've only had my laptop for just over a year, but it's filthy. I use it for work and for play, so I'm pretty much in front of it all day (this includes many meal times). I've been wondering how to clean it, and I couldn't have come across this hub at a better time! Would you happen to know how to clean the vents for the cooling fan? Judging by the amount of dog hair that was lodged in my keyboard, I can imagine the vents are pretty clogged. Would I use the canned air for that, too?

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Thanks!

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      My laptop is maintained clean with the use of gentle bristled paint brush. Congratulations on Hub of the Day!

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Absolutely the electronic vacuum can help with that. If it's stubborn hair, or there's a TON of it, you can also try canned air. Thanks for reading.

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      Great advice! My biggest issue is cat hair, and I am assuming that the little electronic vacuum will help with that.

    • birthwrite profile image

      Robyn Evans 4 years ago

      Great tips!

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Enjoyed your hub! It's definitely time for me to clean my laptop after reading this. Great job and congrats on Hub of the day!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Congrats on HOTD! This is definitely a subject that is necessary to a lot of people.

      I think the "dramatization of germs on a laptop" was funny. I had to look at the picture close, because (until I read the description) I was wondering what that green thing could possibly be!

      Great hub! Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

    • califonium profile image

      CHUKWUNONSO SAMUEL 4 years ago from NIGERIA

      a super fantastic and super useful hub, thank you for publishing

    • Wonder wool profile image

      Priyanka Estambale 4 years ago from United States

      These are some very useful tips! I recently got back my laptop from my brother and it's a total mess! I will certainly try these!

      Thanks for sharing!

      Congrats for making hub of the Day! :)

    • NicoleMessenger profile image

      NicoleAnn 4 years ago from Illinois

      way to go, very useful and knowledgeable tips. thumbs up..... ;)

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Thanks!

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Good luck with the spring cleaning at work. Thanks for reading. :)

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Thanks for your hub serving as a reminder that I need to clean the keyboards and monitors to all of our computers. I usually use the battery powered air brush for the keyboards, but it's been a while since I've done that.

      Great hub, and congrats on winning the HOTD award.

    • Keeley Shea profile image

      Keeley Shea 4 years ago from Norwich, CT

      What a great hub! I definitely need to clean my keyboard and monitor. At work as well. Thank you for these great tips. Well written, voted up and useful! Congrats on HOTD!

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      Vinegar can be a great screen cleaner when mixed with a little bit of water. Just remember not to spray anything directly on your laptop, and to make sure your cloth / q-tips aren't soaking wet, and you should be fine.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great overview of this important topic! I love how you broke down all of the information in easy to follow steps. Well deserved HOTD.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Appreciate these useful tips and easy-to-follow directions for the best ways to clean a laptop. It can be a little frightening to try to do it on my own without such direction.

      Great hub; voted up and Shared.

    • newusedcarssacram profile image

      newusedcarssacram 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

      Canned air sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing the ideas, cleaning a laptop can be really tricky...

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 4 years ago from United States

      Congratulations for the HOTD! Most of us use laptops nowadays. I know that you create this hub out of concern not only for the laptops but most importantly for the users as well. Thanks for you valuable tips! Voted up and useful. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most helpful tips here knowing how many of us are using PCs thanks

    • Louise Lately profile image

      Louise Lately 4 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub! It's easy to forget hidden germs on an item like a PC which is used so frequently.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      I use vinegar instead of the alcohol to clean my laptop. I hope I'm not damaging anything by using the vinegar.

      Very good tips.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 4 years ago from Malaysia

      I've two laptops and seldom clean them why..? Because I don't quite know how to do it except using wet cloth. Thanks for a very well written hub! Voted all the way UP and all except, well 'funny' - it ain't funny at all :)

    • JulieStrier profile image
      Author

      JulieStrier 4 years ago from Apopka, FL

      No problem. Glad I could help.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Wow............ugh........OH MY! I had never thought of this! Thanks for writing such an interesting and informative hub!

    • slappywalker profile image

      Kieron Walker 4 years ago from Saratoga Springs, NY

      As I read this hub from my dirty laptop, I think I need to go ahead and bookmark this one. Thanks for writing this one!

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I LOVE this hub. Not only am I a cleaner, I'm also constantly on my computer so it bothers me if there is anything weird on my laptop. Some folks don't mind a loaf of bread or two hiding in between their keys but it drives me crazy, lol. I'll remember these tips!