As much as modern displays on laptops big and small can be gorgeously detailed and richly colored, they do sometimes get a little — or a lot — dirty. Whether you’ve simply left it open too long and it’s gotten dusty, or your keyboard has transferred some oil or other gunk directly to the center of your display, this guide will teach you how to clean a laptop screen without damaging it. And of course, the advent of touch displays on 2-in-1s and even clamshell laptops means there can be a constant need to wipe away fingerprints.
Device Cleaning Guides
One of the best aspects of modern laptop screens is that they are far more durable than their older counterparts. Thanks to many having touch functionality, they’re designed to be capable of handling pressure — and in fact, special glass like Corning’s Gorilla Glass has made its way from smartphones to laptops for even more durability. Fingertips, however, can leave marks, which is why cleaning them on a regular basis is of the utmost importance.
For dust: Microfiber cloth
Glasses users and camera owners know about this little tool all too well—after all, it’s the best way to clean a camera lens and your eyeglasses. Designed to clean dust and debris without producing lint or scratching delicate surfaces, microfiber cloths are the best place to start when it comes to cleaning a laptop screen.
Although you can use other cloth-based materials, they are more likely to leave behind their own detritus. Don’t even think about using a paper towel or tissue. They might seem soft when blowing your nose, but they are rough when it comes to scratch-prone displays.
Step 1: Acquire a microfiber cloth. Specifically, choose one designed for glasses or lens cleaning.
Step 2: Shut down your laptop. Not only is it safer this way, but having a blank screen can help you see any dust that needs to be removed.
Step 3: Pressing gently on the display, 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 4: Continue wiping across the display until it’s dust-free.
For dirt and grime: Damp sponge
Sometimes you’ll end up with more than dust on your display. Instead of rubbing away at it with your microfiber cloth to no avail—and potentially dirtying the cloth in the process—you can instead use the damp sponge method.
You’ll need a brand-new household sponge and either distilled or deionized water. Alternatively, use water you know has been filtered. Avoid standard tap water as it can leave mineral marks on your display.
Step 1: Shut down your laptop and unplug it from its power source. If possible, you should also remove the battery.
Step 2: Wet the sponge with the distilled water and wring it out so there are no drips.
Step 3: Gently wipe the affected area of your monitor’s screen with the sponge. Watch for drips and clean them up immediately if there are any.
Step 4: Once the area is clean, wait for the display to completely dry out before closing the lid and/or using your machine.
For oils and sticky stuff: Cleaning solutions
If the cloth method didn’t do it and the wet sponge failed to have an impact, it’s time to use a bottled cleaning solution or make your own. Thankfully, you can buy a screen-cleaning spray from a number of different outlets, often with a microfiber cloth. However, if you’d rather make your own, you’ll want to mix equal parts distilled water and white vinegar — which is great for general cleaning, too — or alternatively the same ratio of distilled water and high-percentage isopropyl alcohol.
Keep in mind, however, that you should avoid using any type of glass-cleaning fluid. You’ll also want to refrain from spraying anything directly on your monitor.
Step 1: Shut down your laptop and unplug it from its power source. If you can, remove the battery just to play it safe.
Step 2: Spray or apply the cleaning fluid onto a microfiber cloth. Make sure that the cloth is damp, but not wet.
Step 3: Gently rub the cloth over the affected area. Rub in small circles to avoid streaks and avoid heavy pressure as that can damage the display.
Step 4: Repeat as necessary, making sure not to drip any fluid 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.