How to clean your laptop
Spring is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to get that dust and grime off your laptop. Find out how with our step-by-step guide.
21 Feb 2020
Is your laptop looking a bit grubby? A sticky keyboard is no fun to use, and dust bunnies can play havoc with the components. But what’s the best way to clean your laptop without damaging it? Follow our guide and you’ll have it spruced up in no time.
What you’ll need:
- a can of compressed air
- some isopropyl / rubbing alcohol
- a microfibre or lint-free cloth
- cotton buds (optional)
If you’re going to unscrew your laptop (more on that below), make sure you wear an anti-static wristband. This will stop you zapping the electronics if you touch them by mistake.
How to clean your laptop fan
You may not notice it, but dust and dirt will build up inside your laptop over time. As this happens, the fan can get clogged up and won’t be able to cool the machine properly. An overheated laptop is not a happy laptop – it may crash more often or start to run more slowly.
One way of cleaning the fan is of course to open up the laptop and jump right in. But this could void your warranty, and most modern laptops aren’t designed to be dismantled.
So, short of laptop surgery, the next best thing is to use compressed air to blow the laptop dust out through the vents. Here’s how to do it:
- Turn off the laptop and unplug it.
- Take out the battery (if you can).
- Give the can of compressed air a quick squirt to clear the nozzle.
- Insert the nozzle into the laptop vents and start blowing the dust out.
Remember to squirt in short bursts, because the fan can get damaged if it spins too fast. Also, the fan is harder to clean when it’s moving. So if you can, try to hold it steady with a thin piece of wood or plastic while you spray.
How to clean your laptop screen
Once you’ve tackled the inside of the laptop, the next job is to wipe the screen. Rule number one here is: no cleaning products! Laptop displays are delicate creatures and don’t take kindly to chemical sprays.
Instead, use a dry microfibre cloth and wipe with a circular motion, taking care not to press too hard. That should be enough to remove most smudges and fingerprints.
For sticky stains, like food or coffee splashes, you can use warm water as well. Wet the cloth and be sure to wring it out first - you don’t want any drips getting inside the keyboard or vents.
How to clean your laptop keyboard
Biscuits, coffee and lunch ‘al desko’ may get you through your working day, but they can leave your laptop looking like a restaurant floor. Surveys are constantly telling us that most keyboards are dirtier than toilet seats, so what is the best way to clean yours?
Start by blowing compressed air between the keys to get rid of any loose dust or crumbs. Then wet your microfibre cloth with some isopropyl alcohol (not too much) and give each of the keys a good scrub.
You can also use warm water for this job, but alcohol is better at removing greasy stains. It evaporates quickly too, so there’s less chance of liquid getting inside your laptop.
If you’ve got some cotton buds, use them to clean the spaces between and around the keys. Again, it helps to wet them in isopropyl alcohol first, but be careful they don’t drip.
Time for an upgrade?
Once you’ve cleaned the fan, screen and keyboard, your laptop should be looking brighter and more like its old self.