How to clean a laptop screen

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how-to-clean-a-laptop-screen

Laptop screens get dirty — that’s just a fact of life. Whether it’s a 2-in-1’s touchscreen or the traditional screen of a clamshell laptop, there’s always a collection of mystery dots and fingerprints littering your view. It’s an annoying distraction.

Device cleaning guides

You can’t just wipe it all away, either. Some grime needs a microfiber cloth, while other types demand tougher cleaning. In this article, we list our favorite tools for each type of yuck removal and teach you how to clean a laptop screen without inflicting damage.

For dust: Microfiber cloth

How to clean a laptop
Jon Martindale/DigitalTrends

People who wear glasses or own a camera know about this little tool all too well. After all, it’s the best way to clean a camera lens or eyeglasses.

Designed to remove dust and debris without producing lint or scratching delicate surfaces, microfiber cloths are the best place to start when cleaning a laptop screen. You can use other cloth-based materials, but they are more likely to leave behind debris.

Warning: Absolutely do not use a paper towel or tissue. They might seem soft when blowing your nose, but they are extremely rough on scratch-prone displays.

Step 1: Shut down your laptop. Not only is it safer, but having a blank screen can help you see dust.

Step 2: Pressing gently on the display, use a microfiber cloth to wipe in one direction. Don’t scrub or wipe in circles, as this could damage the display or just move the dust particles around.

Step 3: Continue wiping across the display until it’s dust-free.

What about using a duster? This is also a safe way to remove dust if the coating is extremely light. Avoid feather-style products, which simply push dust into a cloud. Instead, find one that collects dust and doesn’t cause static, like those made by Swiffer.

There’s no set method for removing dust, though you may want to move in an X pattern from top to bottom.

For dirt and grime: Damp sponge

How to clean a laptop
Jon Martindale/DigitalTrends

Sometimes you’ll end up with more than dust on your display. Instead of rubbing at it with your microfiber cloth to no avail — and potentially dirtying the cloth in the process — you can use a damp sponge instead.

What you need:

  • A brand new household sponge.
  • Distilled, deionized, or filtered water.

Warning: Absolutely avoid standard tap water. Unseen minerals can scratch your display.

Step 1: Shut down your laptop and unplug it from its power source. If possible, remove the battery.

Note: If you’re worried about potential drips falling onto your keyboard, place something light over the keys that won’t absorb liquid.

Step 2: Wet the sponge with water and wring it out to eliminate drips.

Step 3: Use the sponge to gently wipe the screen’s affected area. Watch for drips and clean them up immediately.

Step 4: Once the area is clean, wait for the display to completely dry before closing the lid or using your machine.

For oils and sticky stuff: Cleaning solutions

How to clean a laptop
Jon Martindale/DigitalTrends

If the cloth and sponge methods failed to clean your laptop’s screen, it’s time for a safe screen-cleaning spray. However, you can’t use just any substance. Specific chemicals scratch the surface even if you’re using a microfiber cloth.

Avoid these substances at all cost:

  • Acetone
  • Ammonia
  • Ethyl acid
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Methyl alcohol
  • Methyl chloride
  • Surface cleaners
  • Toluene
  • Window cleaners
  • Any other corrosive substance

You can still purchase third-party cleaners, but they absolutely must not include the chemicals listed above. Alternatively, you can create a cleaner using the following:

  • 50% distilled water and 50% white vinegar.
  • 50% distilled water and 50% isopropyl alcohol.
  • 100% distilled water and a drop of dish detergent.

Step 1: Shut down your laptop and unplug it from its power source. If possible, remove the battery.

Note: If you’re worried about potential drips falling onto your keyboard, place something light over the keys that won’t absorb liquid.

Step 2: Spray or apply the cleaning fluid onto a microfiber cloth. Make sure the cloth is damp, not wet. Do not spray directly onto the screen!

Step 3: Gently rub the cloth over the affected area. Rub in small circles to avoid streaks, and don’t use heavy pressure, as that can damage the display.

Step 4: Repeat as necessary, making sure not to drip onto your laptop’s display or keyboard.

Step 5: When finished, wait for the display to dry completely before closing the lid or powering on your laptop.

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