Hands holding microfiber cloth and cleaning spray over an open laptop with a brush over the keyboard.
Iuliia Pilipeichenko/Shutterstock.com

Laptops get moved around a lot, which means they’re often smudged from opening and closing the lid. If you don’t take care when cleaning the screen, you could scratch it or damage the protective coatings.

Here’s a quick guide you can follow to avoid damaging your display.

How to Avoid Damaging Your Screen

There are a few things you should avoid when cleaning your laptop. You should never use harsh cleaning chemicals like surface sprays, glass cleaners (like Windex), or anything that isn’t specifically designed to clean a screen.

Some display manufacturers warn against ever using any moisture to clean the display. You can get a good idea of what your manufacturer recommends by searching the web for your make and model. Be aware that some manufacturers are overly cautious in this regard, and some marks may not come off with a dry cloth alone.

You should also avoid using any old material to clean your display. Just because it feels soft to you, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ideal for cleaning a smooth surface you spend much of the day staring at. Avoid tissue or kitchen roll since the fibers and particles may scratch the display.

Laptop displays can also be somewhat flimsier than their desktop equivalents, depending on which model you have. Take extra care when cleaning not to place too much pressure on the screen which could damage the panel or backlight. Support the lid with one hand while cleaning to avoid flex which could cause problems.

RELATED: How to Clean Your Dirty Smartphone (Without Breaking Something)

Cleaning Dust and Light Marks

You can use pressurized (canned) air from a safe distance to dislodge dust and other debris without ever touching the display. Make sure the can is at a safe distance and spray in short bursts. This will prevent you from dragging any rough particles across the display that might cause a scratch.

For more stubborn dust and fingerprints, microfiber cloths are best. Make sure it’s clean, and ideally pick a cloth with deep grooves so that the dust is caught in the cloth rather than being dragged across the display.

Microfiber Cloth for Screen Cleaning

MR.SIGA Microfiber Cleaning Cloth,Pack of 12,Size:12.6" x 12.6"

With deep grooves to catch dust and other particles, these microfiber cloths are great for cleaning your laptop and other displays in your house.

Work on the display without applying too much pressure until things look clean. Most displays will have coatings on them that will help, especially touch displays that appear on Windows laptops.

RELATED: 5 Alternatives to Apple's $19 Polishing Cloth

Purpose Built Cleaners and Distilled Water

If you have more stubborn grime on your monitor, you may need to use some sort of moisture to dislodge it. We recommend using distilled (purified) water, since tap water may contain small particles that can cause scratches. Use a small pump bottle and dampen a microfiber cloth.

AudioQuest CleanScreen

AudioQuest CleanScreen Kit with Cleaning Fluid, Microfiber Cloth and Retractable Brush

The AudioQuest CleanScreen kit includes cleaning fluid, a microfiber cloth, and retractable brush for removing stubborn marks from most types of display.

You can also buy products that are designed specifically for cleaning displays, like AudioQuest CleanScreen. If you’re unsure about whether a cleaning product is suitable for your display you may find answers on the web or by contacting the manufacturer directly.

Clean Your Laptop Often

You can read our full guide to cleaning your monitor or TV for a more in-depth guide, but the tips outlined above should set you on the right path.

Now that your display is clean, why not clean the rest of your laptop and blow the dust out too?

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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