A laptop is a major investment.
It is also a very delicate machine.
If you want it to last for many years to come, then you need to get serious about keeping your laptop clean.
Unfortunately, most people don’t. That’s partly because they don’t know exactly how to do it.
In this article, we provide you with the definitive guide to cleaning your laptop. We also answer your most urgent laptop cleaning questions.
- 1 Laptop Cleaning Basics
- 2 Cleaning the Keyboard
- 3 How to Clean the Screen of your Laptop
- 4 Experts Cleaning Tips
- 5 Q & A
- 6 Conclusion
Laptop Cleaning Basics
After every few uses, you should give your laptop a general overall clean. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands before you use start to clean your laptop
- Turn your laptop off before you begin to clean it
- Use a sponge or a lint-free cleaning cloth to clean the machine
- Use Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to clean the device.
- Check your laptop user manual to see if the manufacturer has provided any specific cleaning instructions. Be sure to follow them.
- Do not eat around your laptop
- Do not let your animals roam around your laptop
- Never let your cat sleep on your computer – any hair that gets inside will make the laptop heat up very quickly!
Cleaning the Computer Case
It is best to use a damp sponge to clean your laptop case.
It is fine to use everyday dishwashing liquid. Mix one part detergent to five parts water. Soak the sponge in this solution.
Then wring the sponge clean. Use the sponge to wipe down the case of the laptop. Then use a lint-free cloth to wipe off any dust.
It is very important that the sponge does not have any liquid on it that may drip off the sponge and onto the laptop.
You are likely to see tiny bits of gunk in the crooks and crannies of your laptop. You should use a cotton swab to get into these hard to reach areas.
What Not to Do
- Do not clean inside any disk drive openings on the P C card garage.
- Do not use a detergent that contains a strong chemical – this could be either acid or alkaline.
- Do not use any abrasive powders on your laptop computer
Cleaning the Keyboard
Every once in a while you should run a mini vacuum over your laptop’s keyboard.
It would pay to go out and buy a mini vac (they are pretty inexpensive).
Look for a vacuum that has a tiny tooth-brush sized brush that can get in between the keys. An upholstery clean attachment also works well.
This will do a very effective job of getting to those crumbs that have collected over time.
You can also use a can of compressed air to do the job of cleaning your keyboard. However, there is a downside to using compressed air.
That’s because the compressed air could actually send the crumbs further into your machine! For that reason, we strongly recommend a vacuum which will suck the debris away from the computer.
How to Clean the Screen of your Laptop
There is a lot of debate about how to clean the screen of a laptop.
But there is some consensus. The first point of agreement is that you should not use any liquid on the screen of your laptop (the same thing applies to your PC).
The best thing to use to wipe down your screen is a lint-free cloth.
Start with this cloth to wipe any dust from the screen. If your laptop also has a touchscreen, then you should also wipe this down. Try to get off any finger smudges.
Once you have wiped the dust from the screen, get hold of a sponge or lint-free cloth that is dampened with water.
Be very sure that there is absolutely no liquid that could drop onto the screen. Rub over the surface of the screen very carefully.
Leave the screen to dry completely before you close the laptop.
Point to Keep in Mind
- While you are cleaning the screen, you may notice that the keyboard creates a shadow stain on the screen. This is extremely hard to remove. There are preventative measures that you can take to prevent a shadow stain. Simply place a soft, linen cloth, just like the one that is used to clean the screen, between the keyboard and screen whenever you close the lid.
- It would be worthwhile to pick up an LCD screen cleaner along with some lint-free wipes to clean the screen.
- Never use ammonia-based cleaners on any part of your laptop. They will destroy your screen!
- Never spray a cleaner directly onto the screen of your laptop.
Experts Cleaning Tips
Nobody knows how to clean a laptop better than the guys who refurbish old laptops for resale.
They get handed laptops that are disgusting in their filth – and yet they are able to make them look pristine in no time flat.
Here are some tips from professional laptop refurbishers.
- Remove the battery. The professionals use sprays and chemicals and if liquid gets into the circuit board when it is running your will short the circuit.
- Start cleaning the bottom case first. Use a 70% isopropyl/alcohol mix spray cleaning product. This mix will evaporate very quickly which is great for the laptop. Use the spray sparingly.
- Lightly spray down the base and then give it a light Passover with a lint-free cleaning cloth. Remember that there will be heat and air vents that could allow liquid to enter into the workings of the computer, so you definitely need to restrict it to a very light spray.
- Check for any spots of gunk that remain and concentrate on getting them off. Spray directly into the cloth and concentrate your rubbing on these areas.
- Now flip the laptop over and start cleaning the top panel. Repeat the process that you used to clean the bottom panel.
- You don’t have to be as sparing on the spray on the top lid as you do on the bottom one.
- To really make the top of the laptop look like new, get yourself a bottle of Armor All. Use a different ling free cloth than you had for the isopropyl/alcohol mix spray cleaning product. You should spray the Armor All sparingly on to the top panel. Then rub it all over the top panel. Rub in a circular motion and be sure to also get the edges.
- Now open up the laptop. Go back to your original alcohol rag and start working on the screen. Place the laptop so that the screen is resting on the table in front of you. Alcohol is one of the only safe liquids you can use on a computer screen. Spray lightly and rub to remove the stains.
- Use a plastic or wooden (not metal) pick tool to pick splatter marks off the screen. You could also do this with your fingernail. However, you need to be very careful not to scratch your screen.
- Move next to the palm rest. This is usually the dirtiest part of the whole laptop. Use an air blower to blow the debris out of the laptop. Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer.
- Spray your alcohol solution onto your cloth and begin to wipe down the keyboard.
- Do not spray directly onto the keyboard. Any liquid that gets in between the keys will go directly to your motherboard.
- Take full passes with the cloth across the keyboard.
- Be careful when cleaning the keyboard that you do not dislodge or break the keys.
- Once cleaned, you will probably notice that the palm rest is faded from use. You can use the Armor All to give it a new lease of life.
- Spray a small dab of Armor All onto your cloth (not the one you used for the alcohol spray) and rub it into the palm area of the laptop.
- You can use a little Armor All to also add sparkle to your keys.
- Armor All also works well to clean the bezel of your screen. Be very careful, however, not to get Armor All on the screen.
Q & A
How can I clean up the internals of my laptop?
There are a number of things you should do regularly to keep your laptop healthy on the inside. First, though, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Every time you go on your laptop, you leave it in a different condition than it was. You move files around the hard disk and temporary files can be scattered all over the place.
- Microsoft will regularly provide updates, security patches and repairs to Windows. It’s another way of them telling the world that Windows was not perfect when the latest version was released. It is also likely that the system has been attacked by hackers, which is why new security patches are needed.
- Nearly every other app that you have on the laptop will also send updates. For many of them, you will have to take some action to initiate the update process.
Your first priority should be to ensure that your virus protection software and other security utilities are up to date. Make sure that you set them to automatic update.
The next step is to ensure that your laptop is properly configured to accept updates from Microsoft. Be sure also to register your software with Microsoft and maintain a link to their support system.
Your computer includes a number of tools that report on its hardware and software configurations.
Checking them regularly can help you to see the warning signs of pending problems. You can do this by using a utility called System Information.
To access System Infomation click on Start ⇒ All Programs ⇒ Accessories ⇒ System Tools ⇒ System Information.
Once you hve seen what you’ve got under the hood, you should go to your Device Manager. You can get there through the Windows Control Panel.
This will show you all the hardware that you’ve got on the computer. Look to see if there are any yellow question marks. This will denote a problem. A red exclamation mark will tell you that the problem is more serious. Double click on the icon to get details.
Problems usually fall under one of three categories:
- A non-responding or a failed piece of hardware
- A conflict between two or more devices seeking to use the same resources (interrupts, DMA channels, or memory addresses)
- A problem with an installed device driver
Try rebooting the machine or removing and then reinserting the cables if the problem piece of hardware is external to your computer, such as a camera that is attached via a USB port.
Hopefully, every piece of hardware will have a ‘this device is working properly’ tag next to it.
If you do have a persistent problem with a piece of hardware, go to the Microsoft support system.
How can I customize the way my recycle bin works?
There are a number of ways to customize your recycle bin that are built into Windows.
The most important of them all is the ability to set the maximum amount of space that the bin takes up. The bigger your bin is the less often you have to empty it.
So, if you tend to forget about emptying the bin, set a fairly large bin size.
When the recycle bin reaches capacity, it will start to permanently delete files from the bottom. In other words, the files that arrived first are the first to be deleted.
Other options regarding your recycle bin are the ability to turn off those reminders that ask if you really want to delete a file.
However, many people find this to be a handy self-check to make sure that they don’t delete something they would regret losing later.
You can also instruct your system to completely bypass the recycle bin and simply completely remove files from your computer.
This takes away the safety net of the recycle bin and is not something we would recommend.
How can I keep my hard drive clean?
The most important thing you need to do to keep your hard drive clean is to regularly take out the trash.
There is a lot of useless stuff that gets accumulated on your laptop. This includes:
- Web junk – websites you visit will send you images, icon and other junk. Often they come to your hard disk as tempory files. They are meant to delete when you close the browser but this doesn’t always happen.
- Updated garbage – this includes drivers, programs, and updates that are downloaded to update your device. Once installed, the installation package is meant to disappear, but, again, this doesn’t always happen.
The Recycle Bin allows you to retrieve files that you decide that you actually do want to keep.
A file will remain in the recycle bin until you do one of the following:
- Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and select Open. Then right-click the specific file you want to delete.
- Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and select Open. Then right-click on the Empty Recycle Bin option.
- Your Recycle Bin becomes full and starts deleting files, starting with those that arrived there first.
If you do happen to delete a file from the Recycle Bin that you later want to get back there are ways of doing that.
However, you may have to purchase a 3rd party utility to enable you to do so.
How do you reattach thermal paste on your laptop?
Thermal paste acts as a buffer between your CPU and its heat sink.
It fills in the holes on the heat sink so that the heat can be transferred between the heat sink and the CPU.
There are two parts of thermal paste: conductive and non-conductive.
Conductive paste has the ability to transfer electricity and better conduct heat.
Non-conductive paste is more commonly used due to its lower thermal conductivity rate. This makes it less likely that an electrical shortage will occur.
Some commonly used non-conductive thermal pastes are:
- Arctic Silver 5
- Arctic MX-4
- Noctua NT-H1
- Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
Most people end up applying too much thermal paste.
Here is how to do it properly:
- Turn off the computer and disconnect all power cords.
- Remove the heat sink from the processor.
- Use a Q-Tip to wipe off any excess paste.
- Squeeze no more than a pea-sized thermal paste onto the middle of the processor.
- Reapply the heat sink and screw it back into place.
Using a small amount of paste will ensure an even spread once you reapply the heat sink.
Cleaning your laptop regularly and well is vital if you are going to keep it working well for a long time.
In this article, we’ve shown you exactly how to do it.
Make cleaning a regular habit and you will be able to enjoy a clean, and crisp laptop computer for years to come.