How to Clean Your Computer Screen

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on January 15, 2024
5 min read

Computer screens differ. So, advice on the best way to clean them differs, too, depending on the type of screen you have and how dirty it is.

Follow the steps outlined in this guide to clean and disinfect your computer monitor. You'll learn how to clean your keyboard, too.

The first step is to check the manufacturer's manual for the model and make of your device. See whether it has an LCD, LED, or another type of display. Most manuals will indicate the best way to care for your screen.

If you’re dealing with either an LED or an LCD screen, do your best to avoid anything that’s going to dull the reflective coating. This uppermost layer of your screen is very sensitive to compounds such as acetone, ammonia, or propylene glycol. These compounds are often found in cleaning agents such as window cleaners. Using these liquids will corrode the surface of your screen, resulting in scratches or smudges that will be difficult to get rid of.

Don’t use any of these products on your monitor:

  • Window cleaner
  • Kitchen cleaners
  • Paper towels
  • Makeup remover
  • Dish or hand soap

Do use:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Distilled water, if needed
  • Diluted white vinegar or rubbing alcohol (only on non-LCD screens), if needed

What to use to clean a Mac screen:

If you have an Apple Pro Display XDR or an iMac, you’re dealing with either a nano-texture or standard glass. These call for more specific cleaning products:

  • Use an ethyl alcohol wipe or isopropyl alcohol wipe for the display or other hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple device.
  • Avoid products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Use the polishing cloth that came with your device to remove dust and smudges. If needed, moisten the cloth with an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution.

If you can clean your screen without any liquid, that's best. You’ll need a dust-free cloth, such as a microfiber wipe. If you can't get the job done with just a cloth, one of the best cleaners for most screens is distilled water, as it doesn’t contain added chemicals. You can also mix a quarter cup of distilled water with a quarter cup of white vinegar. If you don’t have white vinegar, and you're not dealing with an LCD screen, mix equal portions of distilled water and rubbing alcohol. Put the mixture in a spray bottle.

The best way to clean a computer screen:

First, turn your computer off. A black screen makes it easier to spot smudges and other stains. Ensure that the computer is powered down to reduce the risk of damage or electric shock.

Use a microfiber cloth or the cloth that came with your device to wipe your computer monitor.

Wipe the screen down using a gentle, circular motion. If your screen is not too dirty, that should be enough. If needed, spray your cleaning solution on your cloth and then wipe. Spraying a screen directly increases the risk of damage.

Clean the frame and base. These areas are less sensitive and can withstand multipurpose cleaners. Moisten a paper towel using the cleaner and run it along with the frame and base. Don't let the paper towel touch the computer screen.

For touchscreens, be extra careful, as you’re cleaning the device’s main input. Such screens may be damaged or compromised if you apply too much pressure.

How to keep your computer screen clean:

If you use a laptop, try to always cover its keyboard with a thin microfiber cloth before closing it. This should keep finger oil from being transferred onto the screen.

Wash your hands before using a touchscreen and ensure they’re dry before touching the display.

Here's what you'll need to clean your keyboard:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Portable vacuum (Don’t use a standard vacuum cleaner, as it produces static electricity that may harm computer components.)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Can of compressed air

For your safety, you’ll also need the following personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Home dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Antistatic gloves

First, lay out a towel or cloth on a table or other flat surface. The dirt you clean from the keyboard will fall on this towel, which you’ll fold up and throw away.

Wear the items on your PPE list and follow these steps:

  1.  Ensure your computer is switched off.
  2.  Unplug the keyboard and place it on the towel.
  3. Turn the keyboard upside down and tilt it from side to side to remove any loose particles caught between keys. Shake it gently to make sure no more particles are left.
  4. Aim the can of compressed air at an angle while pointing down toward the keyboard to blow off fine dust. It is important to maintain an angle to avoid discharging refrigerants onto the keyboard.
  5. Use the portable vacuum cleaner to suck up remaining dust.
  6. Using rubbing alcohol, moisten the cloth and gently wipe the keyboard’s surface.
  7. For even more thorough cleaning, use a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol to reach the spaces between keys.

Note: If you’re cleaning your laptop’s keyboard, it’s not a good idea to shake it. Modern laptops won’t be affected by a little shaking, but doing it every time you’re cleaning may affect some of the internal components. Instead, you can tap it gently while holding it upside down to dislodge the little crumbs beneath the keys.

Also, if you’re cleaning an old keyboard, be careful when using a portable vacuum cleaner or compressed air, as the force involved can dislodge weakly attached keys.

How to clean keyboard keys

You can use screen wipes or a moist soft cloth to remove gunk from the surface of the keys. Be gentle to avoid erasing characters or dislodging keys. If you don’t have screen wipes or a moist soft cloth, paper towels will do just fine.

How to keep your keyboard clean

  • Don’t eat or drink over your keyboard. This will keep food crumbs and liquid spills away.
  • Keep your laptop closed when it is not in use to minimize dust.
  • Get a good keyboard protector or keyboard cover.
  • After eating, wash your hands before using your keyboard.
  • Keep pets and children away from your keyboard.
  • Consider buying a washable keyboard that you can soak in water and scrub without worry.

Having to replace the screen or keyboard of your laptop or PC can cost you. Taking a little extra care will help you maintain clean, functioning monitors and keyboards for years to come. You'll also cut down on germs that can lurk on keyboard surfaces and make you sick.