When was the last time you cleaned your laptop? Go on, admit it. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? No one wants to clean a laptop. Chances are, you only thought about doing a bit of laptop cleaning when a smudge prevented you from seeing something clearly on your screen. A half-hearted swipe took care of that.
But did you know that your laptop is one of the filthiest things you’ll ever come across? In fact, according to a 2013 project conducted by Bacteriology students at the University of Surrey found that your keyboard actually has 3 times more bacteria than your toilet seat? A trackpad, on the other hand, was found to have 162 times more bacteria than money during a test conducted by CBT Nuggets in 2016.
Obviously, cleaning a laptop screen, keyboard, and the rest of its components should be your top priority. Bacteria buildup should never be taken lightly. That’s why we’re here. To help you get set up with the right supplies and to show you how to ensure that your laptop isn’t making you sick.
Necessary Cleaning Supplies that You Need
Before we start talking about how to clean your laptop, we need to make sure you have the right cleaning supplies on hand (no, that does not include a specialty laptop cleaner sold by the big-box electronics stores.) To clean your laptop, you’re going to need:
- A can of compressed air
- Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Microfiber cloths
- Distilled or purified water
- Disinfecting wipes
Once you have your supplies ready, create your cleaning solution which is a mixture of alcohol and water (1:1 ratio). Take note that you should never spray the solution directly onto your laptop under any circumstances. The cleaning solution should be applied to the cloth. Also, make sure that the cloth is just damp, not wet.
Start Cleaning Your Laptop From the Inside
It’s tempting to start wiping off all the grime you can see on your keyboard and screen. But that’s not going to be efficient. Experts who are knowledgeable on how to clean a laptop all recommend that you start with the internals. This way, you only need to clean each part once. Just don’t forget to turn off your laptop, unplug it, and remove the battery before proceeding with the steps stated below.
Blow Out the Dust
Laptop cleaning starts with getting the dust, crumbs, and whatever debris is lodged inside the cracks and crevices. Use your compressed air on your keyboard. Make sure to only blow short bursts of air because moisture tends to accumulate once you start spraying longer. And this can damage your computer.
Clean the Vents
Just like with the keyboard, you should also use the compressed air to clean the cooling vents and USB ports. Unlike with your keyboard, you should be more careful with how you blow out the debris. First, make sure that you don’t spray too hard on the fans because these can easily get damaged if they spin too fast. To prevent this, you can put a toothpick or a cotton swab between the fan blades to keep them from spinning. Also, you should spray at an angle. Remember, you want the debris to get blown out of the computer, not push it further inside.
Once we’ve cleaned the inside as much as we can, the next step we need to learn is how to wipe a laptop clean.
How to Clean It From the Outside
Cleaning the outside portion of your laptop can be done using the microfiber cloth dampened with the cleaning solution or sanitizing wipes. Just make sure that after you use either material that you wipe your laptop down using a dry microfiber cloth afterward to prevent any liquid from dripping into your laptop.
How to Clean Laptop Keyboard
Cleaning a laptop keyboard is pretty easy. Use a damp cloth or sanitizing wipe to gently rub your keyboard and the trackpad. Make sure to clean the spaces between keyboard keys. Take note that if your laptop is a bit old, there’s little chance for you to get rid of the shine of your keys. That’s not due to the oil from your fingers; it’s more likely that you’ve already worn down the top layer of the keys. You can’t wipe that away, no matter how many passes you make on the keyboard.
How to Clean Laptop Screen
The best way to clean a laptop screen is to make gentle circular motions while wiping the screen using a moistened microfiber cloth. It is important that you don’t spray the cleaning solution directly onto the screen. Nor should you give in to the urge to use household cleaners. Your screen is not a window. Harsh chemicals can damage it.
Get rid of Unpleasant Smell
Let’s say that you have never cleaned your laptop since you first purchased it. That was several years ago. There’s a good chance that it has since acquired a certain unpleasant smell. You might be surprised to learn that laptops do absorb certain odors such as smoke when it is exposed to it constantly. Unfortunately, wiping down your laptop isn’t going to get rid of that smell easily. You’re going to have to pull out the big guns – activated charcoal.
There are two common sources for active charcoal that you can use to “deodorize” your laptop – kitty litter and diaper pail deodorizers. Both products have active charcoal and are great at eliminating odors. Just ask any parent (of babies and pets)! Now, the next step would be to place your laptop in a bin along with a cup or so of kitty litter or diaper pail deodorizer. Don’t pour the material on top of your laptop though. You just finished cleaning it, remember? Just keep it in a cup or something similar and enclose the charcoal and the laptop inside the bin. Take note that this may take several hours to finish “deodorizing.” The longer you leave the laptop in the bin, the better it will smell afterward.