how to clean laptop (easy & safe way)

Kenny Trinh Updated on October 13, 2020
How to Clean your Laptop

According to a study conducted by CBT Nuggets, your computer keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. That is plain gross! You know that it is filthy, and that is why you are here. You want to know different tricks on how to clean your PC or laptop.

Cleaning your laptop is really simple, you just need rubbing alcohol, a microfiber cloth, and canned air and follow these steps: Blow the crumbs using the canned air, rub the screen with the microfiber cloth, and then damp the microfiber cloth with alcohol and use it to clean other laptop parts.

However, many questions still pop up even before you start. Is a microfiber cloth necessary? What if you don’t have canned air? Won’t the alcohol damage computer parts? What are those chemicals sold for cleaning your laptop? Doing things that you don’t understand very well might just end up damaging your laptop instead of cleaning it.

6 Tips to Cleaning a Laptop (Quickly and Effectively)

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Have All Your Materials Ready Before Start

Before you start cleaning, you have to prepare all the necessary materials. You don’t want to start cleaning and then stop in the middle because you realize that you have no canned air. So here is a rundown of the complete things you have to prepare:

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Screen Cleaner
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Canned Air

Be Careful of Your Power Source

After preparing the materials, make sure to turn off your laptop and disconnect it to the charger. It is also better to remove the batteries for your safety. This is a common practice for all the appliances and electronic devices that you will be cleaning or fixing.

Use Compressed Air for the Keyboard

This is easily the dirtiest part of your computer or laptop. Do you remember eating your favorite potato chips while doing your assignment? How’s that email you sent while eating popcorn? Do you still vividly imagine how the oil in your fingers sticks to your keyboard keys? These are the reasons why your keyboard is easily the dirtiest part of your computer.

But don’t worry, the steps to clean your keyboard are simple: 

  • Using your canned air, compressed air, gas duster, or whatever you call it, Blow the dust, hair, fur particles using the canned air. You will be surprised by the amount of the materials stuck in the corner of the keys especially if you have pets like cats or dogs. Keyboards and laptops are their favorite bed, after all.
  • After blowing the dust particles, dampen the microfiber cloth with alcohol, and wipe your keyboard keys. You may want to use cotton swabs for small spaces and the keyboard keys.

Pro Tip:

EPA recommends for you to buy compressed air with HFC display instead of CFC because CFCs are dangerous to the ozone layer.

Clean the Dirt on Your Mouse

There are different mice you can use for your laptop. You can use a wired, a wireless, or even use your laptop touchpad. But regardless of your choice, the steps are almost the same.

  • If you are using an external mouse, you can spray alcohol and then rub it with a clean cloth. Make sure that no dirt will be left because microbes easily come back to dirt spots. You can also clean the length of the USB connector if you are using a wired mouse.
  • Cleaning your touchpad should be in a little more gentle way. Do not spray alcohol. Damp your cloth with alcohol and gently wipe the touchpad until there is no visible dirt or oil.

Wipe the Grime Away on Your Laptop Case

Be it how beautiful or creative your design in your laptop case, it would not look good if it has many crumbs of dirt and dust stuck to it. But like the other parts, it is also pretty simple to be cleaned:

  • Damp your cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe it from side to side. After cleaning, inspect for any dirt residue.
  • For laptops that have a rubber case aside from the common case, you must first unmount the case. Clean it with a dishwashing liquid or alcohol. After that, dry it. Finally, mount it back.

Be Careful on Cleaning The Screen

Your laptop screen is the most sensitive part of your laptop’s external parts. You should strictly follow the steps because this might cause harm to your screen.

Use the screen cleaner to dampen a microfiber cloth to clean the screen. Gently rub it in a circular motion to remove the streaks and dust. Do not use glass cleaner or alcohol in cleaning your laptop or desktop screen. We also had research that is focused on cleaning the laptop screen and you may wanna check it out. 

Alternative Ways Cleaning Ways

Some of us don’t have time to buy or just do not want to buy those materials like canned spray and cleaning materials. You even ask yourself, what even is inside that canned air? The good news is, there are a lot of home remedies we could use as an alternative to those cleaning materials. And here are some:

  • Instead of canned air, you can use your small vacuum as an alternative. Use its smallest attachment and sip all the crumbs on your keyboard. Move it across the keyboard to make sure that all the debris will be pulled.
  • If you also have no vacuum, you can use force. Turn it upside down and shake the loose dust out of your keyboard. Then use a damp sponge and make sure to check that particles would stick to it while cleaning the keyboard.
  • You can use a toothpick instead of a cotton swab to pick the specks of dirt that are stuck in between your keys. You have to be more careful while using a toothpick because its sharp end might damage something if you pushed a little too far.
  • If you don’t want to buy a screen cleaner, you can use purified or distilled water as a substitute. 
  • If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, use the smoothest cloth you can find and gently rub the screen. Microfiber cloth greatly reduces the risk of damaging the screen because of its smooth surface.

Maintaining Laptop Cleanliness

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Cleaning your laptop is only half of the equation and maintaining it is the other half. It would be better, cleaner, and would last longer if your laptop is also being maintained. And believe it or not, some of the ways to maintain your laptop’s cleanliness is simple:

  • Wash hands before using your laptop. Prevent bacteria from spreading faster by always washing hands. This could even be applicable outside the topic of laptop maintenance.
  • Avoid eating while using your laptop. Your teeth need to be brushed three times a day. Imagine the number of germs and bacteria it would accumulate if you continue eating while using a laptop and you only brush your teeth and leave your laptop there with the oil and crumbs.
  • Avoid keeping drinks near your laptop. Yes, it does not have crumbs, but little spills could still make your laptop dirtier. It could even completely destroy your laptop in an instant if a large amount of your drink was spilled directly on it and made its way to the internal parts.
  • Keep it after use. To prevent dust build-up, you may want to keep it always after use. It would also help you hide it from insects that might damage your laptop. It may sound trivial but there are chemicals used inside your laptop that attract ants and it sometimes causes irreparable damage if ants were burnt inside causing a short circuit to your laptop components.
  • Buy cases and covers. Laptop cases and covers are easier to clean because you can wash it with soap and water. This is extremely useful especially if you work in dusty environments such as a garage and the likes.

Things to Avoid While Cleaning Your Laptop:

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(Image credit: Insider)

Not all things could be used as a substitute for cleaning your laptop. It may be more convenient to grab something that is already available inside your house but you might end up more burdened if it resulted in damage. Make sure to remember these important things as these will prevent you from harming your laptop:

  • Don’t start with cleaning the screen first. Blowing the dust particles off your keyboard or shaking it upside down will make some of the dust to land on your screen. If you started with cleaning your screen first, you will end up cleaning it again.
  • Don’t put a direct cleaning agent on your computer or laptop. This would create streaks on your screen and some liquid might drip and make it inside the internals of your laptop.
  • Damp the cloth not wet it. Again, it might streak your computer screen or the cleaning material might end up inside your laptop.
  • Don’t use tap water. If you don’t have a screen cleaner, use distilled or purified water. Using tap water will make some minerals stick to the screen.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaning materials. Stick to the rule. Laptops are too expensive and rubbing alcohol really is fine.

How to Clean Your Laptop Internally

Aside from cleaning the external parts of your laptop, you may also wonder how to clean its internal parts. This is a good way to make your laptop faster and prolong its life because it will unclog dust that helps trap heat inside your laptop, and heat is one of the major reasons why laptops slow down or are damaged.

Don’t worry, you will be needing lesser items to clean its internal parts – just the canned air and screwdriver.

First of all, not all laptops can be opened nowadays, especially the newer ones. Manufacturers tend to make it harder to clean its internal parts.

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(Image credit: HP)

The first step is pulling off the power plug and the battery. Then go somewhere where it is okay to blow the dust particles off like your garage. Then, if your laptop can be opened, unscrew it. If you have a service manual, it will be much easier because it will guide you on how to open up your laptop. Take note of the warranty sticker location because if it is obstructing a screw, it means that opening your laptop will void its warranty. Just to be sure, check the service manual of your laptop. If you have successfully opened your laptop, use canned air to blow the dust. Do not use a vacuum because small internal components might be pulled.

If your laptop can not be opened, check for any obstructions that may possibly block it or search the model of your laptop on the internet and look for someone who had successfully opened it. If it is still not possible, just use the canned air to blow through the vents. You would see that some dust particles will come out but this will not completely clean your laptop. Still, it will help unclog the vents to give more breathing space for your laptop.

How to Clean Your Laptop System

A thorough check-up would probably give you the best results that you want. Cleaning the external and internal physical parts of the computer is good but nobody would beat if you could even pull off a clean hard drive.

Cleaning your memory is also easy, but depending on the degree and the depth of cleanliness you want, there would be a varying number of steps you should follow.

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One way to clean up is to delete large files that you are not using. To track down the files that take up more space on your computer, go to Settings, then click on System, and then Storage. From here, the storage spaces would be broken down so you will have an idea of where you have to clean first.

You can also check for the software and apps that you are not using. To see all the apps, go to Settings, then Apps & Features, then you can select the apps there to Uninstall.

Aside from these, there are still many more ways to clean your computer system. You might wanna check our article on how to clean laptop RAM.

Kenny Trinh
Article by:
Kenny Trinh
Editor @ Netbooknews. While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur tips and tricks which featured Forbes and other places.

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