How to Clean a Laptop Computer

Laptops computers go everywhere. The airport, the coffeeshop, the park – and perhaps worst of all, your home! Things that you may take for granted, such as pet hair and dust, can over time clog up a laptop computer. This not only looks bad – it also can decrease the enjoyment of using your laptop! Cleaning your computer regularly will help avoid any problems. But how do you actually clean a laptop? There are many tight surfaces that are hard to clean, and electronics are of course sensitive to liquids. This guide will hopefully help you give your portable pal a full cleaning that will restore it to new.

Cleaning the Display

Over time, a laptop display will attract fingerprints and dust. However, cleaning a display with a chemical cleaner isn’t recommended. You never know how it will react with the display’s surface.

Your best bet is to use a lightly dampened soft paper towel or Microfiber Cloth. Wipe the screen with minimal pressure in a left-to-right motion starting at the top of the screen. Remember, being gentle is key. A laptop display can be damaged if you put in too much elbow grease!

Continue all the way to the bottom and then follow up by immediately drying the screen with a separate paper towel. This will prevent the slim chance that a drop of water will find its way into your laptop.

Cleaning the Lid

Cleaning the laptop’s lid and other parts of the chassis is usually best done with a very lightly dampened towel. However, be careful on where you place the towel. The palm-rest area and the lid are safe areas which can be cleaned with a damp towel.

Any area near a vent or a connection, like a USB port, should not be cleaned with a damp towel. If dirt has found its way into these areas your best bet is to use a can of compressed air to blow the dirt out. Do not blow compressed air directly into the vents – we’ll deal with those later.

Cleaning the Keyboard

Most of us are familar with this scenario. Sitting hunched over our laptop or netbook, mouse in one hand, a doughnut or sandwich in the other, oblivious to the crumbs and flakes raining down upon the keyboard. You may be suprised to learn how many crumbs are lodged deep between the keys, eventually this may effect typing performance.

Cleaning beneath a keyboard is easiest using compressed air to blow grime out. If possible blow the air away from the display. We already cleaned it!

You can also use a thin object, like a paper clip, to probe between and underneath keys. You might need to do this if there seems to be something large beneath the keyboard which is preventing a key from compressing when you use your notebook.

Cleaning the Vents

The vents on your laptop are critical for keeping it cool. Blowing compressed air at them looks like it gets the job done, but often it blows at least some of the dust and dirt into your computer rather than out of it.

Instead of using compressed air, use a mini computer vacuum cleaner. There are a few cheap options on the market, some powered by your laptop’s usb port. A standard household vacuum with a hose attachment or a dust-buster will work just fine, however it isn’t recommended, particularly if the vacuum you have is a heavy-duty shop or industrial vacuum.

That’s it! You’ve cleaned your laptop. You can now use it without having to worry about fingerprints obscuring your view or dust overheating your processor. Of course, dirt will gradually find its way back, so it is best to clean your notebook once every six months.


Laptops pick up dust and dirt during their life. Cleaning tasks can make it look and perform like new and prevent it from overheating.