Can I use Windex on MacBook screen?

Using Windex or other household cleaners on a MacBook screen is generally not recommended. While it may seem like an easy solution for cleaning smudges and dirt, Windex contains chemicals like ammonia that can damage the special coatings on a MacBook display over time. There are safer, more effective options for cleaning MacBook screens without risking damage.

Quick Answers

– Windex contains chemicals like ammonia that can strip coatings off a MacBook screen with repeated use.
– Apple does not recommend using Windex or similar cleaners on any of their screens.

– Using a microfiber cloth dampened with water is the safest way to clean a MacBook screen.
– Apple suggests using a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the screen first before using a damp one.
– Pre-moistened screen wipes are another good option but avoid ones with alcohol or harsh chemicals.

– Be very gentle when wiping the screen to avoid scratching it.
– Do not spray Windex or any liquid directly on the screen.

Why You Should Not Use Windex on a MacBook Screen

The main reason Windex and similar glass cleaners are not ideal for MacBook screens is that they contain chemicals that can slowly break down the oleophobic (oil repelling) and anti-glare coatings applied to the display. These important coatings help reduce smudges and reflections on the screen.

Here are the key problems with using Windex on a MacBook display over time:

  • Ammonia – This common ingredient in Windex can strip and degrade the oleophobic and anti-glare screen coatings.
  • Streaking – The chemicals leave subtle residue and streaks that build up with repeated use.
  • Degraded image quality – As coatings wear off, the screen is more prone to smudges, reflections, and blurred clarity.
  • Permanent damage – Once stripped, the coatings cannot be reapplied and damage is irreversible.

The screen is one of the most expensive components to replace on a MacBook so it is not worth risking damage just for the sake of using a common household cleaner. While using Windex once in awhile may not cause immediate issues, repeated use will take its toll over time.

Apple’s Warning Against Using Cleaners Like Windex

In all of their MacBook user manuals and cleaning guides, Apple specifically advises against using glass cleaners or anything containing chemicals like alcohol, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide:

“Don’t use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, or abrasives to clean the display.” – Apple Support

Apple clearly does not recommend Windex or comparable spray-on cleaners for a reason. They know that the chemicals can interact poorly with the coatings and materials used in their displays over time. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations closely to avoid potential damage.

Safer Alternatives for Cleaning MacBook Screens

The good news is that it is easy to safely clean a MacBook screen without risking any damage. Here are some of the best cleaning solutions recommended by Apple:

Microfiber Cloth Lightly Dampened with Water

The safest and most effective way to clean a MacBook screen is using a soft lint-free microfiber cloth lightly dampened with plain water. The water helps cut through oil and debris, while the microfiber material is extremely gentle on the display coatings.

Be sure to wring out any excess water first so that it is just slightly damp. Apple recommends gently wiping the screen first with a dry microfiber before using a damp one. This helps avoid having any water pool at the bottom edge.

Pre-Moistened Screen Wipes

Pre-moistened screen cleaning wipes designed specifically for displays can also be used safely on MacBook screens. However, you want to avoid any that contain alcohol or harsh chemicals in the solution.

Look for wipes made without any ammonia, alcohol, or glycol ethers. Some good options are: iKlear, Whoosh, Monster ScreenClean wipes.

50/50 Distilled Water & Isopropyl Alcohol Solution

If you want a cleaning solution that helps disinfect your MacBook screen, Apple suggests a mix of 50% distilled water and 50% isopropyl alcohol. The isopropyl alcohol in this concentration is safe for screens and ensures no impurities from tap water are left behind.

Spray a microfiber cloth lightly with the solution and wipe the screen gently to clean and disinfect.

Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Cleaning a MacBook Screen

Follow these steps to safely clean your MacBook screen using products recommended by Apple:

  1. Power off the MacBook and unplug charger.
  2. Gently wipe the screen with a dry microfiber cloth to remove loose dust and debris.
  3. Lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and wring out any excess liquid.
  4. Gently wipe the damp cloth across the screen in a back and forth motion.
  5. Start at the top of the screen and work your way down to avoid drips running downward.
  6. Flip to a new area of the cloth as needed to keep lint and debris from building up.
  7. Finish by wiping dry with a fresh microfiber cloth to absorb any moisture.
  8. Avoid pressing hard or scrubbing aggressively to prevent any risk of damage.

Be sure to use a fresh microfiber cloth each time you clean your MacBook screen to prevent any particles getting stuck and scratching the display. With this safe process, you can keep your MacBook screen looking like new.

Risks of Using Windex and Similar Cleaners on MacBook Screens

Now that you know why Windex and similar ammonia and chemical-based cleaners are not ideal for MacBook displays, let’s take a closer look at the risks involved:

Removes Protective Display Coatings

The biggest risk is that chemicals like ammonia will slowly strip and degrade the oleophobic and anti-glare coatings that enable clear, crisp images and prevent smudging. Once damaged, these coatings cannot be repaired.

Causes Permanent Visual Damage

Without protective display coatings, the MacBook screen clarity and quality will degrade over time. You are also more likely to get distracting reflections and smudging as oil and debris accumulates.

Reduces Resale Value

A MacBook with a worn display has much lower resale value versus one with a pristine screen. Models with damaged screens often sell at a significant discount compared to market rates.

Requires Full Screen Replacement

Once damaged, the MacBook display needs full replacement which can cost $300-$700 depending on the model. This expensive repair often does not make economic sense versus buying a used MacBook in good condition.

Voids the Warranty

Using cleaning chemicals not approved by Apple may void your MacBook’s warranty, leaving you to foot the bill for any screen repairs needed down the line.

How to Tell if Your MacBook Screen is Damaged From Cleaners

Here are symptoms that your MacBook display may be getting damaged from chemicals in cleaners like Windex:

  • Increase in smudges and fingerprints
  • Oily looking smears that don’t wipe away
  • Cloudiness or haziness developing on screen
  • Blurry or distorted visuals
  • Increased glare or reflections
  • Rainbow colored ripple pattern visible
  • Crispness of text and images declining

Don’t wait until major screen damage occurs before switching to a safer cleaning method for your MacBook. The first signs of coating wear indicate it is time to stop using cleaners containing ammonia, alcohol or other harsh chemicals.

Common Myths About Cleaning MacBook Screens

There are some common misconceptions and myths about cleaning MacBook screens that are important to clear up.

Myth: It’s Fine to Use Windex Occasionally

Even occasional use of Windex can degrade screen coatings over time. It may not cause immediate damage, but repeated use builds up residue and stripping of the oleophobic and anti-glare layers.

Myth: Damp Microfiber Cloths Will Damage the Screen

A damp microfiber cloth is actually the recommended method by Apple. The key is wringing out all excess water first so the cloth is just slightly moist. This allows it to cut through oil and debris without risk of liquid pooling on the display.

Myth: Paper Towels Are Safe for Wiping the Screen

Regular paper towels are not a good choice for screens since they can scratch the surface or leave behind fibers and lint. Soft microfiber cloths are much safer and effective.

Myth: Small Amounts of Cleaners Are Harmless

Even small amounts of chemicals can interact with the screen coatings over time. For safety, you should always use the mildest cleaning solutions.

Myth: DIY Cleaning Solutions Are as Safe as Commercial Products

It’s very difficult to get the concentration of chemicals right in DIY mixes. Stick to commercial screen cleaners designed specifically for displays to ensure safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use alcohol wipes on a MacBook screen?

Alcohol wipes are not recommended by Apple and can strip the anti-glare and oleophobic coatings over time. A water dampened microfiber cloth is safer.

What percentage rubbing alcohol is safe for MacBook screens?

A 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water is suggested by Apple for an occasional disinfecting wipe. Higher concentrations can damage the screen coatings.

Is it OK to clean a MacBook screen with eyeglass cleaner?

No, eyeglass cleaners can contain ammonia, alcohol and other chemicals you do not want touching your MacBook display. Use a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with water instead.

Can I use Apple’s iKlear wipes on a MacBook screen?

Yes, iKlear wipes are specifically designed by Apple to safely clean their devices’ screens without damaging coatings or leaving streaks.

How should I clean if water or coffee spills on my MacBook?

Gently blot up any liquid immediately with a dry microfiber cloth. Do not rub or press hard. Once absorbed, wipe the screen with a water dampened microfiber cloth.

How can I clean a really dirty MacBook screen?

For heavy dirt or grime, dampen the microfiber cloth with a 50/50 distilled water and isopropyl alcohol solution. Wipe gently but do not scrub aggressively at stuck on debris.

How often should I clean my MacBook screen?

Clean your MacBook screen on a regular basis, around once a week, to prevent any heavy buildup of oils, smudges and debris that can be harder to remove.


While it may seem convenient to use a household cleaner like Windex on your MacBook display, the risks far outweigh any benefits. The ammonia and other chemicals, even with light use, will slowly damage the oleophobic and anti-glare screen coatings over time.

Follow Apple’s recommendations and use a damp microfiber cloth to safely clean your MacBook screen. Avoid any sprays, wipes or solutions that contain chemicals like alcohol, ammonia or hydrogen peroxide. With proper care, you can enjoy crisp clear visuals on your MacBook for years to come.