How to clean your laptop

Hygiene is a top priority at the moment, but regularly cleaning your laptop is important in all circumstances

Laptops have become an almost indispensable part of our modern lives. They're many people's go-to device for work, as well as being popular for online shopping, communication, watching TV and much more.

However, all this regular interaction means dirt and grime can build-up very quickly, and before long your device is a haven of bacteria, which research shows can be up to 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat!

You probably already knew the one way you can avoid this situation: regular cleaning. Keeping your device relatively dirt-free will ensure you can avoid a huge clean once the situation is out of control, as well as making it safer to use.  

What you need to clean your laptop

In order to clean your laptop effectively, you'll need the following items. These are all widely available, and can also be used on other devices:

Microfibre cloths - comprised of thousands of tiny fibres, this is the most effective way to clean your screen and remove bacteria 
Cotton buds - allows you to clean those hard to reach places, such as in between keys or the speaker grille
Isopropyl alcohol - often comes in a spray, and crucially won't damage the internals. Look for a concentration of 90% or more. Avoid using ammonia or alkaline, particularly on the screen
Compressed air - the most effective way to blow debris out from the internals. While there are dedicated appliances, a can should do just fine

How to clean your laptop

Once you've got everything you need, here are the steps you should take in order to clean your laptop most effectively. 

Clean the inside first

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it's often more effective to clean the inside first. This is because the compressed air will scatter debris everywhere, dirtying your newly-pristine keyboard. Starting with the internals will ensure you don't give yourself more work to do:

Turn off your laptop and unplug the power supply In an ideal world, also remove the battery, although that's not possible on many modern laptops
Take the compressed air can and direct it away from the laptop initially, to ensure there's no condensation
In short bursts, blow it into any cracks and crevices in your device. We're talking keyboard, cooling vents and any ports
If there's still visible dust, you'll need to open up the device yourself. If you're not comfortable doing this, we'd recommend taking it to a professional

Approach the outside carefully

While it's the area where you'll notice the most immediate difference, it's important to approach the outside of your device with caution:

Mix some water with the alcohol and apply it onto a microfibre cloth, ensuring it's moist but not soaked
Gently wipe the screen in a circular motion, ensuring complete coverage
Use a separate cloth for the keyboard, although be extra gentle to avoid damaging any components
Dip a cotton bud in the alcohol for those hard to reach places, such as between individual keys
Depending on how dirty your laptop is, repeat steps 1-4 until you see a noticeable improvement

In many cases, a thorough clean can make your laptop feel brand new again. Alternatively, if you're in the market for a new device, check out our best laptop chart

Smartphone needing the same treatment? Many of the same ideas apply, but we also have a dedicated guide on how to clean & disinfect your phone