How to clean your laptop or MacBook – without damaging it

Scary statics comparing your track pad to a toilet seat suggest our electronics are swimming in bacteria. And with so many people working from home due to the coronavirus lockdown, our laptops are likely getting filthier by the day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released guidance on how to take care of your laptop and other electronics.

Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC writes: “Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics.

“Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting.

“If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.”


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General guidelines for keeping your laptop clean:

Note – laptops are constructed from a variety of materials, with certain parts potentially requiring specific cleaning requirements.

To get started, here are some tips apply to all laptop products:

  • Only use a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels or similar items.
  • Avoid excessive wiping, which might cause damage.
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices and cables.
  • Keep liquids away from the product, unless otherwise noted for specific products.
  • Never allow moisture into any openings.
  • Do not use aerosol sprays, bleaches or abrasives, or spray cleaners directly onto the laptop.

Can I use a disinfectant on a laptop?

Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the laptop’s hard, non-porous surfaces.

These areas include the display, keyboard or other exterior surfaces.

Never use bleach and avoid getting moisture in any opening and do not submerge a laptop in any cleaning agents.

Finally, do not use on fabric or leather surfaces.

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How to clean your laptop’s exterior:

When cleaning the outside of your laptop, first shut down your computer and unplug the power adapter.

Next use a damp, soft, lint-free cloth to clean the computer’s exterior.

Avoid getting moisture in any openings and do not spray liquid directly on the computer.

Never use aerosol sprays, solvents, abrasives or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide that might damage the finish.

How to clean your laptop’s screen:

You will want to avoid using anything harsh, such as glass cleaner, on your laptop screen.

Hewlett-Packard advises not to use rubbing alcohol to clean an LCD screen as this can damage your display.

Good practice is to always consult your manufacturer or manual for a list of products to use or avoid before you get started cleaning your device.

Wipe down your screen using a dry microfibre cloth

And to remove stubborn stains, add a small amount of isopropyl alcohol diluted with water and rub gently in a circular motion.

How to clean a laptop keyboard:

The process of cleaning a laptop keyboard is easier if the computer is off.

Turn your laptop upside down, while it’s open, and tap or shake to dislodge debris, to remove larger pieces of dirt.

Next use a soft-bristled brush to wipe and clean loose debris from between the keys of your laptop.

Do this while the laptop is upside-down, if you’re able, to avoid pushing debris under the keys.

Now wipe across the keys with a lightly-damp microfibre cloth, then using the corner of a lint-free cloth wet and wipe the keys clean.

Should any stubborn spots remain, use a cotton swab dipped in a bit of isopropyl alcohol.

Alcohol will help dissolve the grime on your keyboard – but although it evaporates quicker than water, make sure to dry it off after cleaning

How to disinfect a laptop keyboard:

If you’re trying to protect against spreading germs, you should follow up your cleaning routine with some disinfecting, but remember to always clean before disinfecting.

Disinfecting a laptop keyboard is as simple as applying your favourite disinfecting product to the keys, with a few caveats.

Never spray or apply liquid cleaners directly to any part of your laptop.

Instead, apply liquid disinfectants to a cloth first, making sure that your cloth is saturated enough to provide the surface contact time specified on the product’s label.

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