Our laptops have a tendency to become an extension of our bodies — similar to our phones — and they can get grimy in less time than you might think. The palm rests and touchpad are often smudged from regular use, the keyboard can get crumbs and hair in it, and your screen might be spotted from the last sneeze. Keeping your hardware clean and free of germs is always good practice (and quite satisfying), but it's becoming even more imperative when dealing with the threat of something like coronavirus (COVID-19). Thankfully, it's not too difficult to practice proper cleaning techniques if you have the right tools for the job.
Products used in this guide
- Compressed air: Falcon Dust-Off four-pack ($23 at Amazon)
- Electronic duster: DataVac Computer Cleaner ($83 at Amazon)
- Specialized cleaning brush: OXO Good Grip ($6 at Amazon)
- Cleaning solution and cloth: WOOSH! Cleaning kit ($16 at Amazon)
- Big bottle of isopropyl: ForPro 70% isopropyl alcohol ($10 at Amazon)
What to avoid and where to begin
Before we go too deep, it's good to know where to draw the line when cleaning and disinfecting your laptop. You don't want to do any permanent damage in the name of hygiene. Products like Windex or Lysol are common and might seem like a good idea, but they're relatively harsh and can damage the display or finish on your laptop, especially if an oleophobic coating is involved. Don't really care because it's an old beater that likely has the finish worn off anyway? Go ahead and use your favorite disinfectant.
Isopropyl alcohol is less harsh, but it still has people divided. I've been using disposable alcohol wipes on my laptops (screen, keys, and body) for years and have never had any issues, but there are people who claim alcohol has damaged their laptop. A best practice if you do want to test it out is to dilute 70% isopropyl alcohol at a 1:1 ratio with water (preferably distilled to prevent stains) before adding it to a microfiber cloth. If you're unsure, don't use it. It is undeniably an effective way to clean and disinfect a device — which, again, is especially important with the threat of coronavirus — but I must offer a warning due to the ongoing argument. If your laptop has a fresh oleophobic coating, you'll likely want to stay away from anything more harsh than marketed laptop screen cleaner.
As a definitive rule, never spray any cleaning solutions directly onto your laptop. Always spray first onto a microfiber cloth to avoid any liquids seeping into the internal hardware and causing damage. Before jumping into any of the cleaning and disinfecting techniques below, be sure to power off your laptop and unplug its AC adapter.
Start with the keyboard, ports, and vents
The most common way to clean a keyboard is to use compressed air, but all the detritus built up around your keys has to go somewhere. That's why it's recommended you start with keyboard to avoid mucking up any areas you've already cleaned. Begin by turning the laptop upside down and giving it a gentle shake to remove any of the larger chunks.
You can then use either a disposable can of compressed air, or you can invest in something more permanent like DataVac's electric dust blower. It's really up to you, and both options are going to remove the dust and hair from your keys. While you have the compressed air in hand, give the ports on your laptop a quick shot. Ports are nests for dirt and dust but often go neglected during the cleaning process.
If your keyboard is seriously grimy, you might want to remove the keycaps and get a bit deeper with the compressed air. Be sure to check your laptop manual before attempting to pry up any keys — your keyboard might have fixed caps or might need a special touch to avoid damage. A careful touch with a toothpick or a specialized cleaning brush can also go a long way.
Not everyone is comfortable with accessing the internals of their laptop, but giving the cooling system a quick cleaning can boost overall system performance and longevity. If your laptop has a removable bottom panel, undo the screws and give the fans a quick shot of compressed air. Don't get too close and treat everything with care to avoid any damage.
Wipe down the display
Now that you've finished blowing dust, crumbs, and food around with compressed air, it's time to tackle that spotty, smeared display. If you're not comfortable using a mix of water and isopropyl alcohol, you can pick up a quality combination of screen cleaning solution and microfiber cloth from WOOSH! for about $16.
Always dampen the cloth instead of spraying any liquid directly onto your display. The key word here is "dampen." Don't oversaturate the cloth and, if you do, wring it out before wiping down your display. I find that circular motions work best, especially on the spots that are particularly difficult to remove.
Finish up with the touchpad and chassis
The keyboard and screen are squeaky clean, and you can now turn your attention to the touchpad and chassis to remove oily fingerprints and smudges. Use the same microfiber cloth used on the display, or, if it's particularly dirty, dampen a new cloth. As mentioned, isopropyl alcohol can be used here at your own discretion, especially if you're looking to disinfect. If you'd rather not use alcohol, the same cleaning solution used on the screen can be used to good effect.
Wipe down the touchpad with small circular motions to remove any oil from your fingers. Do the same on the palm rests and keycaps. Once the inside of the laptop is clean, finish everything off by closing the laptop and repeating the same circular motion on the lid and bottom chassis. Dampen the cleaning cloth as needed while you clean.
Cleaning kit essentials
There are plenty of cleaning products on the market, but these options can make up a well-rounded kit to keep your laptop clean.
Falcon Dust-Off four-pack ($22 at Amazon)
Grab this four-pack of compressed air cans and get busy ridding your keyboard, ports, and vents of dust and crumbs.
DataVac Computer Cleaner ($83 at Amazon)
Don't want to go the wasteful way with canned air? This little gadget costs more, but it's also not going to run out of air and should last a long time. It includes a bunch of different ends for different jobs.
OXO Good Grip cleaning brush ($6 at Amazon)
Toothpicks work in a pinch, but this little cleaning tool has a silicone tip on one end and a retractable brush on the other. It's ideal for removing embedded dirt.
WOOSH! Cleaning kit ($16 at Amazon)
Don't want to risk using alcohol to clean? WOOSH! is a great alternative for removing oily smudges and smears from screen and chassis.
ForPro 70% isopropyl alcohol ($10 at Amazon)
Don't mind so much about the new finish on your display or chassis? Mix this 1:1 with water and you'll have a whole lot of germ-fighting cleaning solution.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews
Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Add distilled white vinegar to the distilled water if the surface grime is difficult to remove. Again, do NOT spray any cleaning materials directly onto a computer. Spray or dab cleaning liquid onto a microfiber cloth, wringing out excess fluid, and gently wipe the monitor with broad strokes.How do I disinfect my laptop keyboard and screen? ›
A microfiber rag with water will do the trick—or, pick up some electronic wipes. Power recommends the brand WHOOSH! because "it's one of the best screen cleaning and laptop cleaning devices out there." Go over the screen once or twice gently with your wipe or rag and make sure not to press too hard, Silverman adds.What is the best solution to clean laptop? ›
“You don't need much to clean a computer,” said Jolie Kerr, New York Times contributor, cleaning expert and host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” “I use exactly four things to keep my laptop clean: Rubbing alcohol, microfiber cloths, cotton swabs and canned air.” Ninety percent or higher isopropyl alcohol is ideal, ...What is the best way to clean and disinfect? ›
Clean the surface using a product containing soap, detergent, or other type of cleaner appropriate for use on these surfaces. Launder items if possible, according to the label's instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.Is it OK to clean my laptop with rubbing alcohol? ›
DO use a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol solution (aka rubbing alcohol). DON'T spray a cleaning agent directly on your computer's surface. Spray your cleaner onto a cloth first and then gently wipe the cloth over the surface. DO wring out your wipe or cloth so it's not dripping wet, just slightly damp.Is it OK to spray Lysol on laptop? ›
How to clean an LCD (not glass-covered) laptop screen: If you have a PC laptop with an LCD screen, you should not use disinfecting wipes. Manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, say that active ingredients found in both Clorox and Lysol wipes could damage your screen.Can I use alcohol wipes to clean my laptop screen? ›
Never spray alcohol or another liquid directly on your computer or laptop screen. Use another clean microfiber cloth with a small amount of 70%+ Isopropyl Alcohol or a 70%+ alcohol cleaning wipe. Wipe down your entire screen and be sure to get the edges.How do I disinfect my touch screen laptop? ›
To clean your screen, use a screen cleaning wipe or a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. When necessary, you can dampen the cloth with one of the following: water, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution 70% or less, or eyeglass cleaner. Never use glass cleaner or other chemical cleaners. Keep it out of the sun.Can I use alcohol wipes on laptop keyboard? ›
There are two effective ways to disinfect your keyboard: using isopropyl alcohol swabs or disinfecting wipes. When using alcohol, always make sure it is isopropyl, as, for example, ethyl alcohol can remove lettering off of your keyboard.How can I clean my laptop fast? ›
- Restart Your Computer.
- Stop Heavy-Duty Tasks & Programs.
- Download a Device Optimization Program.
- Remove Unused Apps, Software & Bloatware.
- Delete Large Files (Manually & With Disk Cleanup)
- Delete Old Files & Downloads.
- Empty Your Recycle Bin.
- Remove Unused Browser Extensions.
- Turn off and unplug your laptop. ...
- Flip your laptop upside-down and shake it. ...
- Use a soft brush or compressed air to clean out loose debris. ...
- Take a picture of the keyboard. ...
- Pry the keys off. ...
- Wipe underneath the keys. ...
- Replace the keys.
- Step 1: Remove Debris. ...
- Step 2: Rinse. ...
- Step 3: Apply Detergent. ...
- Step 4: Give a Thorough Rinse. ...
- Step 5: Take a Closer Look. ...
- Step 6: Sanitize or Disinfect. ...
- Step 7: Dry.
- Start with frequently-touched items and surfaces. Think about the surfaces or items that you touch most often and start with those. ...
- Start with soap and water. ...
- Let some fresh air in. ...
- Don't reuse cleaning products. ...
- Wear gloves. ...
- Wash on warm.
Internally: I do it whenever I can. Deleting unnecessary files and reorganizing folders, as well as running a deep computer scan to uncover any virsuses, malware, or other software that's slowing my computer down. It's depends on your environment. If you use your laptop at most outdoor, you need clean it per month.Should I open my laptop to clean it? ›
Whether you want to upgrade your laptop's hardware or just dust it out, manufacturers don't want you to open most laptops. But dust does build up inside a laptop, whether you can open it yourself or not. Even if you can't open your laptop, you can still attempt to dislodge some of that dust.Can I use baby wipes to clean my laptop screen? ›
Clean your screens: Everything from your smartphone and tablet to your laptop and television will benefit from a gentle wipedown with baby wipes if you don't have lens or screen wipes available.What are the do's and don'ts in cleaning a computer system? ›
If there are dirty fingerprint smudges everywhere, use a slightly damp cloth with water only. DO make cleaning easier, and prevent cracks and scratches, by using a screen protector on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. DON'T use glass cleaners or household detergents to clean screens.Can you use Clorox wipes on laptop keyboard? ›
There are times when you may want to disinfect a keyboard, especially when using a public computer or one with multiple users. According to Apple's website, use Lysol Wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to do the job. Do NOT use disinfectant sprays or wipes containing bleach.What is the best way to clean a keyboard? ›
Want to thoroughly clean your keyboard? Use compressed air. It allows you to blow out dirt and dust particles from your keyboard as well as any particles lodged in between the keys. Be sure to hold the compressed air can upright and away from your body, and aim it at the keyboard while depressing the nozzle.How to clean my computer? ›
Use an anti-static cloth to lightly dust your computer casing. Do not use furniture cleaners or strong solvents. Use a can of compressed air to blow out debris from the air intake slots. Ammonia diluted with water—or glass cleaner comprised mostly of ammonia and water—is a safe cleaning solution for computer surfaces.
The ideal solution is plain distilled water, which contains no chemicals and is gentle on the screen. If heavier cleaning is needed, a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and distilled water can also be effective. Make sure you use plain white vinegar, not apple cider vinegar or any other kind.Can I use Windex on my laptop screen? ›
Gently wipe the screen and device.
Use a Windex® Electronics Wipe to remove fingerprints, grime and other unsavory smudges from the screen, keyboard and plastic casing.
Technology company HP has shared some rather helpful tips on how to keep your laptop or PC clean nicely disinfected. They recommend the use of an alcohol-based disinfectant, such as a hand sanitizer with 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water.What are the 5 steps to clean keyboard? ›
- Flip your keyboard upside down and tap lightly. Keyboards can easily collect dust, crumbs, and other debris, especially on desktop units where large gaps exist between the keys. ...
- Use pressurized air to remove crumbs. ...
- Use a keyboard vacuum. ...
- Wipe down the keys. ...
- Remove keys for deep cleaning.
While you can purchase keyboard key removal tools, you can also easily remove laptop keys using a flat head screwdriver. When cleaning your laptop keys, all you will need is some compressed air, rubbing alcohol, and cotton swabs.Is it safe to vacuum a keyboard? ›
Vacuuming a keyboard can be done to clean the top layer and larger particles of debris off of your keyboard but it is not recommended. If your keycaps are not secured properly, they may get sucked into the vacuum. We recommend that you remove the keycaps first. Compressed air is usually a better option than vacuuming.How long should I wait to clean my laptop? ›
To keep your computer sanitary and free of germs, follow a proper maintenance and cleaning schedule of every three to six months. If you notice lots of dust following cleanup, you may want to increase the frequency to reduce the dust and debris buildup.How long does it take to clean a laptop? ›
How long will this take to clean? Cleaning the outside of your laptop takes less than five minutes. If you need to open up the laptop to access the inside, it'll take about 15 minutes.How to get laptop for free? ›
- Computers with Causes. ...
- The On It Foundation. ...
- PCs for People. ...
- EveryoneOn. ...
- Freecycle Network. ...
- Check Out Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse. ...
- Local Libraries. ...
- Check with Your Employer or School.
Having a lot of browser tabs open at once can also slow it down quite a bit. If this is happening, close any apps, browser tabs, etc., that you don't need and see if that helps speed up your PC. If it doesn't seem to help, restart your PC and then open just the apps, programs and browser windows you need.
Why is my computer so slow? If you notice your computer starting to slow down, it's likely because you have too many programs running at once. Powering several programs at once takes a lot of processing power, impacting performance and speed.Why is my Windows 10 so slow? ›
Close background programs in Windows 10
A chief culprit for slow speeds can be too many programs running in the background. This can use up memory, processing power, laptop battery life and internet bandwidth. Click Start > Settings > Privacy, then click the Background apps option at the bottom of the left-hand pane.
Show activity on this post. Is it safe, judicious to clean wired keyboards with hair dryer on cold setting or vacuum cleaner? A hair dryer on the cold setting will do the job nicely and good quality ones will even allow you to adjust the strength of the air flow.How do I deep clean my laptop memory? ›
Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Disk Cleanup, and then, in the list of results, select Disk Cleanup. If prompted, select the drive that you want to clean up, and then select OK. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box in the Description section, select Clean up system files.How do you clean key caps? ›
- Remove the keycaps from your keyboard.
- Place the keycaps into the container of warm soapy water and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. ...
- Clean your keyboard by using light compressed air to clear out dust and a damp cloth to clean out any built up grime.
- CLEANING: Remove clutter, dust, crumbs, and other detritus.
- SANITIZING: Reduce germs and decrease the opportunity for microbes to gather by providing antibacterial solutions.
- DISINFECT: Destroy germs on contact by eradicating them where they live and inhibiting their spread at the source.
There are three ways by which anything can be cleaned: Thermally (heat), Mechanically (scrubbing), or Chemically (bonding/dissolving).What are the 4 cleaning methods? ›
- Step One: Remove Debris. The very first thing to do in order to clean effectively is to clear and remove debris from the surface. ...
- Step Two: Wipe Down Surfaces. ...
- Step Three: Disinfect Surfaces. ...
- Step Four: Sanitize Surfaces.
Three-Step Cleaning and Disinfecting Method
Step 1: CLEAN: Use soap, water and a clean cloth/brush. Scrubbing to clean. Step 2: Rinse: Use clean water and a clean cloth or place under running water. Step 3: Disinfect: Apply chemical following provided directions (strength and contact time) to the surface.
Sanitizing kills bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. It is not intended to kill viruses. Yes, EPA registers products that sanitize. Disinfecting kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces using chemicals.
Disinfection describes a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects (Tables 1 and 2). In health-care settings, objects usually are disinfected by liquid chemicals or wet pasteurization.What in a house can cause sickness? ›
Combustion gases. These gases include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. They can cause flu-like symptoms, respiratory illnesses, or even death. Don't use unvented combustion appliances (such as portable kerosene heaters) indoors.What are the symptoms of house sickness? ›
Building occupants complain of symptoms associated with acute discomfort, e.g., headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors. The cause of the symptoms is not known.How do I disinfect my computer from viruses? ›
- Step 1: Download and install a virus scanner. ...
- Step 2: Disconnect from internet. ...
- Step 3: Reboot your computer into safe mode. ...
- Step 4: Delete any temporary files. ...
- Step 5: Run a virus scan. ...
- Step 6: Delete or quarantine the virus. ...
- Step 7: Reboot your computer. ...
- Step 8: Change all your passwords.
You can easily clean your keyboard using rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and a lint-free cloth.Is Lysol disinfectant spray safe for electronics? ›
Remove all batteries. Prep a clean cloth or a cotton pad to be sprayed with a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol-based disinfecting solution. (You can also use Lysol or Clorox wipes. DO NOT USE BLEACH ON YOUR GAMING GEAR. )How to clean your computer? ›
Use an anti-static cloth to lightly dust your computer casing. Do not use furniture cleaners or strong solvents. Use a can of compressed air to blow out debris from the air intake slots. Ammonia diluted with water—or glass cleaner comprised mostly of ammonia and water—is a safe cleaning solution for computer surfaces.How do you disinfect computer parts? ›
Cleaning Internal Components
Caked-on dust or dirt can be rubbed away with isopropyl alcohol using either a cloth or a Q-tip for hard-to-reach places. You should never take apart the hard drive or the power supply, not even to clean them.
For fingerprints and smudges, spray 70% isopropyl alcohol onto a cloth, or use a pre-moistened alcohol wipe or a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe, to clean non-porous surfaces like the screen; do not use bleach. Wipe the glass surface and corners, being careful not to let any excess moisture wick from the wipe or cloth.Are Lysol wipes safe for laptop keyboard? ›
Can you Clean a Keyboard with Clorox or Lysol Wipes? Clorox and Lysol wipes both work very well for cleaning and disinfecting a keyboard. The wipes can be used to clean the surface of the keycaps and the rest of the keyboard. If you remove the keycaps, you can do a deeper clean with Clorox and Lysol.
Using disinfecting products on your mouse or keyboard
You can use an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution to safely clean Microsoft mice and keyboards. Apply an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution that's 70% or less to a soft, lint-free cloth to clean the device.
Spray the air in a zigzag pattern so you don't miss any nooks and crannies, and make sure you hit all sides of each key. If you don't have compressed air, you can try another device that blows air (such as a blow dryer). Do not spray air directly under the keycaps; it could damage delicate electronics.What is the safest way to clean electronics? ›
Dust with a microfiber cleaning cloth. Use an ammonia-free electronics cleaning wipe or lightly dampen a clean cloth with water and wipe from top to bottom in an S pattern. Do not spray water or screen cleaner directly onto devices, especially onto a screen.How often should you clean your phone? ›
Health experts suggest cleaning your phone at least once a day as a preventative measure. Before you begin, check with the manufacturer for guidance on how to clean your device. Apple and a number of Android device manufacturers offer similar recommendations: Unplug the device before cleaning.What disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics? ›
Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes are suitable to use on electronics, making the cleaning process easier than you think.