It is not recommended to use Windex or other household cleaners on your Mac computer screen. Apple advises using a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with just water to clean Mac screens. Household cleaners like Windex can potentially damage the coating on Mac displays.
What is Windex?
Windex is a popular household glass and surface cleaner made by S. C. Johnson & Son. It was first introduced in 1933 and has become one of the most recognizable cleaning brands.
The active ingredients in Windex are:
- Isopropyl alcohol
Windex is marketed as a streak-free cleaner for glass, mirrors, chrome, plastic, and porcelain. It helps remove dirt, grease, smoke, smudges, and other residue from hard surfaces.
Can Windex Be Used on a Mac Screen?
Apple does not recommend using household cleaners like Windex to clean Mac screens. Here’s what Apple’s official Mac cleaning guide says:
To clean the screen on your Mac, first shut down the computer and unplug the power cord. Dampen a soft, lint-free cloth with water only, then use it to clean the computer’s exterior. Don’t spray liquid directly on the computer. Avoid getting moisture in any openings.
The key points are:
- Use a soft, lint-free cloth
- Dampen it lightly with water only
- Do not spray the screen directly
- Avoid getting moisture in openings
Apple does not recommend using household cleaners, solvents, aerosol sprays, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide or bleach to clean Mac displays.
The reason is that these substances can potentially damage the oleophobic coating on Mac screens. This is a special oil-repellent coating that helps reduce fingerprints and smudges. Windex and similar cleaners can slowly break down and erode this coating over time.
Potential Risks of Using Windex on a Mac
Here are some specific risks of using Windex to clean your Mac’s screen:
Damage to Display Coating
As mentioned, the chemicals in Windex can damage the oleophobic and anti-glare coatings on Mac displays. This can lead to more fingerprints and make the display appear cloudy or faded over time.
On older MacBooks, Windex could potentially cause damage to the vinyl material around the display. This material could become stiff or cracked when exposed to chemicals.
If moisture seeps into openings around the display, it could cause short circuits and electrical damage. Always avoid excessive liquid near electronics.
The ammonia and alcohol in Windex could lead to corrosion of metal components like anodized aluminum over prolonged exposure.
Getting cleaning chemicals into fan vents could cause a buildup of material that blocks airflow and causes overheating.
What to Use to Clean a Mac Screen
Instead of Windex, Apple recommends these safe, effective ways to clean your Mac display:
Use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth designed for screens. Do not use paper towels or tissues, which can scratch.
Slightly dampen the microfiber cloth with fresh water. Avoid excess liquid. Do not spray the screen directly.
You can also dilute a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water for occasional deeper cleaning. This helps dissolve oil and residue without damage. Do not use abrasives.
Display Cleaning Solution
There are also specialized display cleaning solutions safe for LCD screens. Avoid ammonia, ethyl alcohol, acetone, and bleach.
Use compressed air to remove dust and particles from vents, ports, and keyboards. Hold the can upright to avoid liquid discharge.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Mac Screen
Follow this safe step-by-step method:
- Shut down the Mac and unplug the power cord.
- Dampen a microfiber cloth slightly with water.
- Gently wipe the screen in a circular motion.
- Do not let any moisture drip into the vents or case.
- Follow up with a dry microfiber cloth to absorb any remaining dampness.
- Let the Mac screen fully dry before turning it on again.
- For tougher cleaning, use a 50/50 isopropyl alcohol and water solution.
Never spray cleaners directly onto the screen. Work in a well-ventilated room. Test cleaners on a small area first to check for any damage to the coatings.
How Often Should You Clean Your Mac Screen?
For general cleaning, wiping the screen down once a week is usually sufficient. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away dust in between weekly cleanings.
Clean immediately if you notice fingerprints, smudges, dust buildup, or sticky residue. Avoid letting the grime sit too long.
Clean less frequently if you don’t use your Mac often. Clean more often if it quickly gets dust and fingerprints due to frequent use. Adjust your cleaning schedule based on observation.
Other Parts of a Mac You Can Clean with Windex
While you should avoid Windex on the screen, you can safely use it in moderation to clean some other exterior parts of a Mac, such as:
- Aluminum case (spot test first)
- Glass trackpad (if applicable)
- Metal keyboard frame (not the keys)
- External plastic mouse
When cleaning these parts, spray the Windex on a cloth first rather than directly on the Mac. Follow up with a dry cloth. Ensure no moisture gets inside any openings. Avoid prolonged exposure to aluminum.
How to Clean Other Parts of Your Mac
Here are some tips for safely cleaning other parts of your Mac:
Gently brush keyboard keys with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust and debris. For deeper cleaning, use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab.
Wipe down the trackpad area using a water-dampened cloth. This keeps oils and fingerprints from building up.
Use a dry cotton swab to gently brush away dust or dirt from the camera lens and surrounding area. Avoid moisture.
Use compressed air to spray out any accumulated dust or pet hair buildup in the heat vents and fan openings.
Use a small, dry nylon brush to brush away dust from charging ports and connectors. Avoid moisture and metal tools.
How to Sanitize Your Mac
To sanitize your Mac and kill germs, Apple recommends using disinfectant wipes containing 70% isopropyl alcohol. Gently wipe down exterior surfaces including the display, keyboard, mouse, and trackpad without getting moisture in openings.
You can also use Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or other wipes containing similar concentrations of isopropyl alcohol. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Do not use bleach or hydrogen peroxide wipes, as these can damage metal and plastic on a Mac.
When to Call Apple Support for a Mac Cleaning Issue
If you notice any of the following after attempting to clean your Mac, discontinue use and contact Apple support:
- Visible scratches or damage to the screen
- Distorted, flickering, or discolored display
- Keys or trackpad not responsive
- Liquid spills inside openings and ports
- Singed or burned smell indicating short circuit
- Fan noise or overheating issues
Do not attempt to use a Mac that shows signs of liquid or chemical damage, as this poses a safety hazard. Support can assess next steps and whether repairs may be needed.
While Windex is designed for glass and mirrors, avoid using it to clean your Mac computer screen. Chemicals like ammonia and alcohol can wear down display coatings. Instead, use a slightly damp microfiber cloth with just water to safely wipe away dust and fingerprints. With proper maintenance using Apple’s guidelines, you can keep your Mac’s display pristine.