What can I use to clean my laptop screen?

Keeping your laptop screen clean is important for visibility, eye health, and extending the life of your device. A buildup of dirt, oil, and grime on the screen can make it difficult to see your work and cause eye strain from constantly trying to look past smudges and debris. It’s also important to clean screens gently and properly to avoid damaging the delicate pixels and coating.

According to Why is it Importance Clean Your Computer & Keyboard?, “A clean computer is important for the health and well-being of your office staff. First of all, dirty computers and keyboards are a germy house…” Proper cleaning helps keep germs, bacteria, and viruses from spreading via shared devices.

Common Cleaning Mistakes

When cleaning your laptop screen, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that could potentially damage the screen. One of the most common mistakes is using paper towels or tissues to wipe the screen. Though they may seem soft, paper products can contain wood fibers that can scratch the screen coating (HP, 2018). Another mistake is using window cleaners, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals. These can strip off the screen’s protective coating, leading to a hazy appearance over time (ZDNet, 2022).

Perhaps the biggest mistake is using too much liquid when cleaning the screen. Getting excessive moisture inside the laptop can short circuit the components and cause permanent damage. Even small amounts of liquid could seep through openings and cause issues. It’s best to use only a lightly dampened microfiber cloth to gently wipe dust and debris off the screen (LinkedIn, 2023). Avoid saturating the screen with any type of liquid cleaner.

Best Practices

When cleaning your laptop screen, it’s important to follow some best practices to avoid damaging the screen. According to HP Tech Takes, the two most important things are using a microfiber cloth and distilled water or eyeglass cleaner.

A microfiber cloth is the ideal cleaning cloth because it is soft and nonabrasive. This prevents the cloth from scratching the screen surface during cleaning. Make sure to use a clean microfiber cloth without any dirt or debris on it.

As for cleaning solution, distilled water is recommended since it will not leave behind mineral deposits. Water is generally safe for screens when used sparingly and gently. Eyeglass cleaner is another good option since it is designed to not streak or damage lens coatings.

When wiping the screen, be very gentle and wipe in small circular motions. Do not press down hard or scrub aggressively. The microfiber cloth only needs light pressure to lift away smudges and dirt. Take your time and make repeated light passes to get the screen fully clean.

Avoiding Damage

When cleaning your laptop screen, it’s important to take steps to avoid damaging the screen. Here are some tips:

Don’t press too hard on the screen. Laptop screens are delicate and can be damaged from too much pressure. Use only light pressure when wiping the screen.

Don’t use abrasive cleaners or materials. Avoid using paper towels, normal tissues, or other materials that could scratch the screen. Also avoid using cleaners with chemicals like ammonia, bleach or alcohol that could strip coatings off the screen.

Keep moisture away from the edges. Don’t allow liquids to seep down the sides or corners of the screen. This could allow moisture inside the laptop and cause irreparable damage. Focus on gently wiping the screen’s surface and avoid excessive liquid.

According to HP, the key is to be gentle, use a soft cloth, and avoid getting moisture in openings.

Cleaning Different Screens

Laptop screens come in different types that require slightly different cleaning methods. Here’s how to clean the most common laptop screen varieties:

Matte vs Glossy Screens

Matte screens have an anti-glare coating that diffuses light to reduce reflections. Glossy screens provide more vibrant colors and sharper images but are more prone to smudges and fingerprints. Clean both gently with a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water or eyeglass cleaner. Avoid abrasive cloths on matte screens to prevent damaging the anti-glare coating [1].


Touchscreen laptops like 2-in-1 convertibles can accumulate more fingerprints and oils from frequent handling. Use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol to cut through grime. Dry immediately with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks [2].

Retina Displays

Apple’s high-resolution Retina displays require special care. Dampen a soft microfiber cloth with water only. Gently wipe in one direction. Avoid pressure and liquids like glass cleaner that could degrade the coating [1].

Cleaning Other Components

In addition to the screen, other parts of your laptop can get dirty over time and require special cleaning techniques. This includes the keyboard, trackpad, camera, and speakers.


Laptop keyboards can accumulate dirt, crumbs, and oils that can interfere with the keys or make typing unpleasant. To clean the keyboard, turn off the laptop and flip it over to allow debris to fall out. Use short bursts of compressed air to blow out particles lodged between the keys [1]. Then take a microfiber cloth slightly dampened with isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the keys and surface around the keys. Let dry fully before turning on again.


Clean the trackpad surface by turning off the laptop and wiping with a microfiber cloth dampened with water or a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. This helps remove oils and dirt. For tougher buildup, use isopropyl alcohol [2]. Avoid getting moisture into the internal trackpad mechanics.


Use a can of compressed air to blow away any dust or particles on the camera lens and surrounding area. For more thorough cleaning, use a microfiber cloth dampened with lens cleaner or isopropyl alcohol to gently wipe the camera lens in a circular motion. This removes smudges and oils.


Speakers can collect dust that muffles the sound quality. Use compressed air to clear out visible dust from the speaker grilles. A small soft-bristled brush can also help dislodge particulates. Avoid inserting anything into the speakers that could damage them.

Cleaning Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about cleaning laptop and computer screens:

How should I clean my laptop screen? According to Apple Support, you should dampen a soft, lint-free cloth with water only, then use it to gently wipe the screen. Do not spray liquid directly on the screen.

What should I avoid using to clean my screen? Avoid using window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, or abrasives. These can damage the screen coating. Also avoid paper towels or other materials that could scratch the screen.

How can I clean off fingerprints and smudges? A microfiber cloth lightly dampened with water is ideal for cleaning off fingerprints and smudges. Gently wipe the screen and let it fully dry.

How often should I clean my laptop screen? Aim to clean your laptop screen about once a week or whenever you notice visible dirt, smudges, or fingerprints accumulating. Frequent light cleaning is better than infrequent deep cleaning.

What’s the safest way to clean a MacBook screen? Apple recommends gently wiping your MacBook screen with a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with water. Do not spray liquid directly on the screen. See Apple’s guide for cleaning a MacBook screen.

Can I use hand sanitizer on my laptop screen? No, avoid using hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and rubbing alcohol as these can damage the screen coating. Use a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with water instead.

When to Get Professional Help

While you can safely clean minor dirt and smudges off your laptop screen at home, certain issues are best handled by professionals. Here are some signs it’s time to take your laptop to a repair shop:

Cracked Screen: If your screen develops any cracks, no matter how small, refrain from cleaning it yourself as you may cause the cracks to spread. Cracked screens are fragile and require professional replacement. Contact a repair shop immediately if you notice any cracks on your screen.

Dead Pixels: Dead pixels appear as tiny black spots on an otherwise working screen. They can be caused by manufacturing defects or damage. Do not attempt cleaning dead pixels yourself, as this will likely spread the issue. Professionals have tools to accurately diagnose and address dead pixels.

Persistent Dirt/Damage: If you’ve tried cleaning your screen multiple times with no improvement, the dirt or damage may be too severe for DIY solutions. A repair shop can properly inspect the screen and determine if a replacement is needed. Don’t continue rubbing or scrubbing heavily soiled or damaged screens, as it may worsen the issue.

Preventing Future Dirt Buildup

While cleaning your laptop screen is important for maintaining visibility, prevention is the best solution for keeping your screen clear. Here are some tips to prevent dirt and dust buildup:

Use a Keyboard Cover

One of the main culprits of screen dirt is oil and grime from your hands while typing. Using a keyboard cover can form a protective barrier between your hands and laptop keyboard, preventing oil transfer to the screen when closing the lid.

Apply a Screen Protector

Applying a screen protector creates a smooth surface that repels dust, fingerprints, and scratches. Plastic protectors are affordable and easy to apply. Glass ones provide even more protection at a higher cost.

Store Properly When Not In Use

Keep your laptop stored in a bag or case when not in use to prevent dust buildup on the screen. Avoid stacking items on top of a closed laptop. Storing upright can also minimize dust settlement.

Implementing preventative measures will save you time and frustration down the road. A little diligence goes a long way in keeping your screen pristine.


In closing, it’s important to properly maintain your laptop screen by cleaning it regularly using the proper techniques. As discussed, always use a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water or a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Gently wipe the screen using minimal pressure and avoid excessive moisture. Check for any remaining spots and carefully use a LCD cleaning solution if needed. Avoid household cleaners, paper towels, and abrasive materials that could potentially scratch the screen.

Following these best practices helps prevent dirt buildup and smudges, while avoiding damage to the screen. Laptop displays are delicate and can be easily scratched if cleaned incorrectly. With proper maintenance and gentle cleaning, you can keep your laptop screen looking like new for years to come.

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