Cleaning Your Laptop Inside and Out [Easy-to-Follow Guide 2021]

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Keeping your laptop’s hardware and software efficiently operating is essential if you want your computer to work at its fullest capacity. And cleaning it is of vital importance to this end. This article addresses excellent tips on how to clean a laptop.

How Often Should You Clean Your Laptop?

While many profess that they’ve had laptops to operate for years without needing to clean them, it’s highly recommended to clean your devices regularly. The longer you wait to do some cleaning on your laptop, the dirtier it becomes, and the harder it will be to clean it when you finally decide to do so.

Excess dirt or dust can cause your laptop to malfunction. If you’re not concerned about functional problems, then consider the additional cosmetic and sanitation issues. For example, while visible grime on your computer can be an eyesore, all the excess build-up from your home’s activities, including cooking, etc., could be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

How often should you clean your laptop? Once every six months should be a good time to maintain a machine. And better yet, regular wiping or cleaning after each use is always recommended.

NOTE: While learning how to clean your laptop, we also recommend learning about cleaning your laptop’s systems using a hard drive wipe software.

How to Clean Your Laptop

Before cleaning your machine, gather all the items you’ll need—materials that should be available from your household or store. (There are also specialty products for cleaning computers with ingrained laptop dust.)

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Cotton swabs/cotton balls
  • Dish soap
  • Bowl of water
  • Tape
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Canned air/gas duster
  • Screwdrivers

How to Clean a Laptop Inside

We suggest cleaning the inside of your computer first because if you decide to clean the outside first, you’ll be blowing dust from the inside, which could eventually cover the outside of your machine.

  • Turn off and unplug your laptop.
  • Use the appropriate screwdriver and open up your laptop to expose all the parts inside.
  • If the battery is removable, detach and set it aside.
  • Use the gas duster can (canned or compressed air) and spray it into the cracks and creases to get rid of the dust

The best way to clean a laptop inside using compressed air is to use it in controlled short bursts, as long bursts can cause moisture to accumulate. Be careful when spraying on the fans since making the blades spin too fast can cause damage. A burst of half-a-second should be enough to blow out dust if the air is well-targeted.

If the fan is damaged, your computer will not manage heat and run much slower, eventually damaging other parts. (If you have other issues with speed, you might check out how to make your computer run faster.)

  • Keep spraying until all the dust is gone. Any buildup of dust can cause overheating, making the fan work harder, leading to faster wear and tear.
  • When you’re done cleaning the guts of your laptop, move on to cleaning the inside of the chassis.

Use the gas duster to blow off the excess dust.

Follow up with cotton balls for the dust buildup that cannot be removed by air. [If necessary, dampen (not soak) the cotton ball with alcohol.]

Put just enough alcohol on the cotton ball to pick up the dust and allow the inside to self-dry. (You could also follow this up by using a microfiber cloth to dry.)

Screw the cover back into place.

A Way to Clean a Laptop Screen

Depending on how much grime your laptop surface has, this part should allow you to restore your laptop’s cosmetics to their clean state.

  1. Turn off and unplug your laptop.
  2. Use the microfiber cloth to wipe off dust.
  • If anything is sticking on the screen that can’t be removed by cloth, you can use cotton balls or swabs to remove it.
  • Dampen the cotton with a bit of alcohol. It should not be dripping wet since any excess liquid can make its way down into the keyboard and rest inside the keys. (In this case, you’d need to remove the cover and dry the guts out by using the gas duster.

If a stain is stubborn, you can use your fingernails to apply light pressure while gently scratching it off. The best way to clean a laptop screen is to not put too much pressure on it or scratch it.

You could also use tape to remove loose stains from the screen. Cut about an inch of tape and lightly dab the middle part of the tape on the surface where the loose stain is at.

If the stain seems to be still there, check the screen by looking at it from the side; it might be a crack and not a stain. If it protrudes from the surface, it’s a stain. If not, it could be a crack. In this instance, you’ll need to leave it alone or take it to an expert.

If all is well, apply the final touches by wiping off the screen again using the microfiber cloth.

How to Clean Your Laptop Surface

A clean laptop surface will make your computer look brand-spanking-new from the outside.

  1. Take a bowl of water, apply a few drops of dish soap, and stir.
  2. Dip a lint-free cloth in the soapy water, soaking it well. Wring it out so that it doesn’t drip. (Make the cloth damp but not wet.)
  3. Rub the cloth all over the body of your laptop to remove stains. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the results. Be very careful when rubbing across openings and vents. Again, it’s essential to ensure that your cloth is not dripping wet, or else you’ll risk getting liquid inside through the vents.
  4. Use another cloth, dip it in water, and wring it until it’s almost dry. Rub it all over the surface to remove any soap residue.
  5. Finish off by using a dry cloth. (You can also apply this method on the screen.)

How to Clean Your Laptop Keyboard

Your keyboard might seem a lot trickier to clean since it’s made up of a lot of moving parts and has so many corners and edges. But it’s not that difficult to clean.

  • Flip your laptop upside-down and use the gas duster to blow away excess debris, much of which should’ve already been taken care of if you followed the steps of how to clean your laptop inside.
  • While blowing out the filth, you can use a soft bristle brush to dust away hard, sticky crud.

Some recommend using a vacuum. But those with older laptops—whose keys might be a little loose—might risk the keys getting sucked into the vacuum.

  • Clean the palm rests and the rest of the parts surrounding the keys. It’s easier to clean the palm rests, trackpad, and perimeter since these are mostly flat surfaces, unlike the keys and in between them.

Dampen a cloth with alcohol. Wipe the wet cloth on the flat surfaces and apply a little pressure to remove tough stains. Don’t push too hard on the trackpad so that it doesn’t damage the parts underneath.

  • For cleaning the laptop keyboard, dampen a cotton ball with alcohol and gently rub it on each key. (Again, the cotton must not be dripping wet, or the liquid will seep into the laptop.)

For the spaces in between the keys, dampen the cotton swab with alcohol and rub stains out one row at a time. Finish off by wiping the entire area with a dry cloth.

Key Takeaways

Note some essential aspects to remember on cleaning a laptop:

You don’t always need to buy specialty products; everyday household items will do.
When using liquids, make sure your cloth is damp and not dripping wet.
When using a gas duster, spray in short bursts, especially near the fan.
Don’t apply too much pressure when wiping the trackpad.
Some stains on the screen might be cracks. Check by looking from the side of the screen.

Conclusion

Laptop dust cleaning and stain removal not only extends your computer’s usable life; it’s an excellent way to keep it looking fresh and new. You can typically use everyday household items for this task; you don’t always need to purchase chemical products from the store. But be extra careful when using liquids—such as water and alcohol—and avoid dripping.

Never apply too much pressure on sensitive surfaces, such as the screen, keys, or touchpad. Tough stains can be removed by applying only a bit of pressure and repeated wiping using appropriate materials.

If you have an old computer, there might be a lot of discoloration that you won’t be able to get rid of. (Know more about what you can do with old computers if you’re thinking of disposing of your unit.)

FAQ

How to clean your laptop exterior?

Cleaning the exterior is the easiest part of laptop cleaning. Simply use a cloth and dip it in water with a few drops of dish soap. Next, wring the damp cloth until it doesn’t drip. Then, wipe the surfaces of the computer to clean. And follow up by using a damp cloth with clean water, then a dry cloth to finish up.

How to clean your laptop screen?

For the screen, wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth to clean the dirty parts. If there is stuck debris, you can use tape to dab on the stain. You can also use your fingernails as long as you don’t scratch too hard.

What can I use to clean my laptop screen?

How to clean a laptop includes using a microfiber cloth on the screen to wipe off dust. And you can use tape to remove any remaining debris or stain. Just remember to be careful not to press too hard or scratch the screen.

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