For a substantial number of us, our computer screens are our windows to the world. Laptops are a particular favorite among casual internet users and professional desk-divers alike. At the height of the pandemic, sales of personal computers reached levels not seen since 2014.
Today, analysts expect continued growth for laptop adoption. Laptop sales are likely to be a $150 billion industry by 2025 – and thanks to their convenient form factor, it’s easy to see why.
How do you get the longest life out of a new notebook purchase? It starts with knowing how to clean your laptop screen. It’s not a difficult task, but it’s an essential one. Here’s everything you need to know.
How Often Should You Clean Your Laptop Screen?
Are you a PC power-user? Do you use your computer daily or even throughout the day? If so, you’ll probably want to clean your laptop screen once or twice per week. Even a daily wipe-down of the keyboard won’t go amiss.
More casual laptop users – those who let it sit idle more frequently or don’t travel around with their laptop – may not need this level of attention.
Here are two more considerations:
Does your laptop have a touchscreen? If so, it’ll be a fingerprint magnet. Aim for at least a twice-weekly wipe-down to keep the screen responsive and looking fresh.
Glass or No Glass?
Is the front of your laptop screen covered with glass? If not, you’ll want to exercise even more caution during the next steps. Although it’s not recommended to use cleaning compounds on a laptop screen of any kind, non-glass screens are especially susceptible to damage from careless movements, abrasive fabrics, or harsh chemicals.
With these general recommendations in place, let’s take a look at the easiest and most effective way to clean most laptop screens.
Steps to Clean Most Laptop Screens
1. Turn Off and Unplug Your Device
Step one is to shut down your laptop, remove the power adapter, and unplug it from the wall. If your model has a user-replaceable battery, remove it now.
2. Start With Dust Accumulation
To begin actually cleaning your laptop, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe it down. Begin with the screen, then move to the keyboard, then the rest of the chassis. If you go in reverse, you might transfer particles from the outside of the case to the keyboard or to the screen itself.
Be sure not to apply unnecessary pressure to the screen; if there are more stubborn splotches of oil or grime, we’ll attend to them in the next step.
3. Tackle Fingerprints and Tougher Grime
If you live the lifestyle of the digital nomad, you might have even more built-up fingerprints or spots where errant foods or beverages marred your screen.
For this, grab another clean microfiber cloth. Get it lightly wet with water (tap water will do, but distilled is best) and wipe down your screen using consistent pressure and direction. Work from top to bottom, paying attention to any hotspots on the screen that you touch or brush up against frequently.
Tip 1: Don’t waste your money on those tiny spray bottles of “specially formulated” laptop screen cleaner. Most of the time, this is just distilled water with a small amount of alcohol. You can make your own at home for pennies on the dollar. You can also substitute white vinegar in place of the isopropyl alcohol.
Tip 2: Don’t use Windex on your laptop screen! You’ll also want to steer clear of cleaning products that contain:
- Ethyl acid
- Methyl alcohol
4. Know When You Just Need to Disinfect…
Remember when we mentioned glass-covered laptop screens? This is where you folks have some extra options.
During the pandemic, many of us got into the habit of wiping down our devices and surfaces more frequently to fight the spread of disease. You can use a disinfecting wipe (containing 70% alcohol content) to wipe down glass laptop screens and kill lingering bacteria and viruses.
5. …And How to Prolong the Life of Your Screen
If there’s just one word of advice that’ll keep you from revisiting this laptop screen cleaning guide frequently, it’s to keep your hands to yourself. Unless your model has a touchscreen, there’s no good reason to transfer the dirt and oil from your fingertips onto the most important screen in your home.
Another good bit of advice is to keep a clean microfiber cloth at your desk or work area at all times. This way, you can catch small bits of food, droplets, or dust right when they land on your screen instead of waiting until they accumulate.
Now You Know (How to Clean Your Laptop Screen)
We told you it was straightforward. Now, here are some final tips and words of caution.
Never use paper towels, tissues, t-shirts, or napkins to clean your screen – only clean microfiber cloths. Terry-cloth towels can work too, but make sure they’re extremely clean and lint-free. Beyond that, make sure you’re not using too much water during the wipe-down step and never use any cleaning products not designed for laptops.
Now, you’re ready to use your laptop with a clean conscience! And remember – if any of your tech purchases were related to work, you might have some options for lowering your tax bill come tax time, like writing off electronics purchases.
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