How do I clean my laptop?

Updated: 12/30/2019 by Computer Hope
Laptop

Unfortunately, unlike a desktop computer, a laptop is not as easy to open and clean. However, there are still several steps an end-user can do to clean and maintain their laptop or portable device.

Before cleaning a laptop, we suggest the laptop first be turned off and unplugged. Also, because you're going to be cleaning the laptop, we also suggest you remove the battery if possible.

Cleaning a laptop case

Cleaning the exterior portion of the laptop case helps keep the laptop looking new. The exterior case of a laptop can be cleaned with a cotton cloth that is dampened with water. It is not recommended that the exterior case of the laptop be cleaned with household cleaning solutions. However, if there is a substance on the laptop that cannot be cleaned with water, we suggest using rubbing alcohol.

Cleaning case openings

If dust, dirt, hair, or other substances are in the case openings, it can prevent airflow, which can cause the laptop to overheat and may even cause it to reboot unexpectedly.

Compressed air

Look for openings where the laptop draws in cool air from outside or blows out hot air from the inside. These openings are usually on one of the sides, the back, or the bottom of the laptop. Dust, dirt, hair, or other substances can often be removed using a cotton swab or compressed air.

Caution

If you are using compressed air to clean openings that have fans in them, the amount of air blown on the fans can cause them to spin too fast, damaging or destroying them. To help prevent this issue, place something in-between the fan blades to keep it from spinning while it's being cleaned.

Cleaning a laptop keyboard

Like almost everything else on a laptop, a keyboard is also different from the standard computer keyboard. With many laptop keyboards, the keys cannot be completely removed. Therefore, we suggest cleaning the keyboard with the same damp cloth you used to clean the exterior case of the laptop. Also, compressed air can blow out dust, dirt, hair, or other substances from in-between and underneath the keys.

If you spilled something onto the laptop's keyboard that's causing the keys to stick and cleaning it does not help, you may need to have it professionally serviced.

Cleaning a laptop mouse (touchpad)

Cleaning the laptop touchpad helps improve the look of the laptop, and it also may help to improve the responsiveness of the touchpad. To clean the touchpad surface, use the same damp cloth used to clean the exterior of the laptop.

Cleaning the LCD (screen)

For additional information about cleaning LCD and flat-panel displays, see our cleaning page.

Cleaning internal laptop components

Cleaning the inside of a laptop computer can be difficult. However, it may be necessary because of excessive dust and dirt buildup in the laptop on components like the processor's heat sink.

Disassembling a laptop is much more complicated than disassembling a desktop computer. Because of the small form factor, it is much more difficult. Instructions for disassembling a laptop depend on the laptop model and brand. Because there are so many different brands and models of laptops, we cannot provide information on how to disassemble every laptop. If, after performing the cleaning steps listed above, you still believe the laptop is overheating because of dust or dirt, we suggest taking the laptop to an authorized repair center.

If you still prefer to disassemble the laptop and clean it yourself, you need to find instructions by searching on the Internet.

Note

The manufacturer's warranty may be voided if you disassemble the laptop yourself.

Other cleaning information and help

For additional information about cleaning computers, peripherals, and individual components, see our computer cleaning guide.

Additional information