How to Give Your Laptop the Deep Cleaning It Deserves

How to clean your laptop

If you're sitting at your laptop right now, I want you to look down at your keyboard. Get really close. Close enough so you can take a peek under the keys. Now look at the screen. Move from side to side to get different angles. How's it looking? If your computer is like mine was before I cleaned it, then you're probably noticing a bunch of greasy fingerprints mixed with crumbs from lunches past. Real talk: When was the last time you actually cleaned your laptop? There's no shame if the answer is “never,” and luckily it's a pretty quick clean. If your QWERTY is crusty, keep reading to learn how to clean your laptop at practically no cost.


My laptop before a deep clean
Here's what I was up against. Ick!

I use my laptop everyday, so I wasn't super surprised at how dirty it was. While I'm pretty good about not eating over my keyboard, life is messy, and that mess ended up on my laptop. Fingerprints marred the screen. My ports were dusty. And countless pet hairs had wriggled themselves under the keys in my keyboard. In short – my laptop was disgusting. 

Fortunately it's really easy (and practically free) to clean your laptop. To see just how breezy it was, you can watch how I cleaned mine in this video below. Otherwise, keep scrolling for all the details.



  • Lens cloth
  • A straw or air blower
  • Distilled water
  • Q-tips


How to clean a laptop | Step 1

Power down your computer.


How to clean a laptop | Step 2

Next, remove the crumbs and dirt in your keyboard using forced air. You can do this by blowing through a straw, so long as you're mindful of any moisture transferring from your mouth through the straw.

Blowing through a straw works just fine, but if you want to give your lungs a break, a manual air blower will do the trick. They're inexpensive ($5-10 a piece) and are useful for cleaning a host of electronics, from cameras to desktop computers.

So, why not use compressed air? I dislike using “canned air” to clean my electronics because, #1. It's terrible for the environment and literally puts holes in the ozone layer, and #2. Because it isn't actually air! It's a mixture of a bunch of chemicals that if you've ever watched the A&E show Intervention, you'll know are really harmful to breathe in. So I like to stick to the manual stuff.


How to clean a laptop | Step 3

Now it's time to get scrubbing. Grab a lint-free lens cloth like you would use to clean a pair of eyeglasses, and LIGHTLY with distilled water. When I say “lightly,” I mean just north of humid. A spray bottle is a great way to control how much water you're using.

It is important that you use distilled water, as regular water contains small amounts of minerals, which could scratch your laptop screen.

Wipe down the entire computer, starting with the screen. Don't press too hard as you wipe, but if you find an area that is particularly stubborn, you can use the hardness of your fingernail behind the lens cloth if needed. You can re-moisten the cloth as you go, but at no point should water residue be left behind on the computer.

Before and after cleaning a laptop screen
Mmm… that's the good stuff

Wipe the keyboard gently, rubbing each key individually. Don't forget to wipe down the trackpad and the outside of the computer, too. Pay close attention to areas of high traffic, like the Return key, spacebar, and along the edge where you open and close your laptop.


How to clean a laptop | Step 4

Finally, use a dry or lightly-moistened q-tip to do detail cleaning. Look between the keys on the keyboard, in the crook of the laptop fold, and along the edges of the screen. 


How to clean your laptop for free

Hey presto, you're done! Stand back and admire your work. 

How to deep clean your laptop
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Every time I open up my laptop now, I get a little overly excited at the difference a little cleaning made. Now I just need to clean off my actual computer and get rid of all these old files and emails!

Speaking of overlooked areas… when was the last time you cleaned your mattress?

How to deep clean a mattress