How to clean your laptop in a few quick steps

How to clean your laptop in a few quick steps

Your laptop is, for want of a better word, disgusting. Don’t worry – everybody’s is.

A few years back, various news outlets reported on research that proclaimed the typical computer keyboard was a whopping 20,598 times dirtier than the average toilet seat, boasting 3.5m ‘colony forming units’ (CFUs) per square inch (if that means anything to you). For comparison, the average mobile phone was dubbed 9,000 times dirtier.

Of course, these sorts of stats are to be taken with a pinch of salt. It seems like most things are germier than toilet seats – virtually anything that gets touched and used regularly through the day in fact, but it still doesn’t distract from the point that our computer accessories and laptops are up there for the filthiest gadgets going.

If the headline numbers above have shocked you enough to do something about it, we’ve put together a quick and simple guide to cleaning your laptop (most of the below works for computer keyboards, too). Not only is it really easy to do on a superficial level, but it’s also pretty satisfying.

Work from the inside out

First things first, make sure your laptop is turned off and the battery is disconnected. With your laptop open, the first step is to do what you’ve no doubt done before – turn it upside down and give it a good shake and a tap. If you’ve not done this for a while or ever before, get ready for a pleasing (or horrifying, depending on your perspective) amount of debris to come tumbling out.

Once you’ve completed your shake down, get some compressed air involved. You can find air dusters online – these are cans of compressed air that will blow free any more stubborn crumbs and dirt wedged between the keys and crevices. Make sure to have a go at all the ports around the laptop as well as the keys.

Once you’ve finished blasting, do a quick once over with a small vacuum attachment – this should pull out any remaining bits that have been loosened but not freed completely.

Wiping down

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The reason to start with the inside stuff first is because you don’t want to wipe down your laptop only to have it covered in crumbs again after you’ve shaken them out. Once you’re happy the interior is as clean as it’s going to get, you can get to work on giving your laptop a polish and shine.

Get some cotton swabs with a little alcohol on and rub them against the keys and spaces between. After the precision swabbing, you can do the same with a microfibre cloth for a broader wipe down.

For the screen, you can either go to work with a dry microfiber cloth or use an alcohol mix (you can always check your manufacturer guidelines for advice here). Whatever you do, don’t employ household cleaners as ammonia and alkaline can cause damage.

Getting rid of smells

Especially if your laptop sits in a smelly environment – around smoke or strong food aromas, for example – it may have picked up some unpleasant odours that can linger. If you’re looking for more than a visual clean and want to do a quick job on neutralising any odours, seal your laptop in a closable bag with some kitty litter for about 24 hours or so.

Why kitty litter? Kitty litter formulas typically utilise charcoal as one of their active ingredients. Charcoal is one of the best odour neutralisers out there, so should kill any funky smells coming from your laptop without having to take it apart.

Cleaning the fan

A less superficial area that can always use a clean is your laptop’s fan. The fan is key to keeping your laptop cool but can inevitably get blocked up with dust and debris over time. It’s a worthwhile process to clean it, but it does mean doing more than a shake and a wipe down – so it depends how keen you are on a thorough clean.

If you fancy going in and getting it done, check out Tech Advisor’s guide on how to clean a laptop fan. It’ll help your laptop run cooler and quieter.

Cleaning your laptop doesn’t have to be a big job. You can start with anything from a quick upside-down tap through to a full dismantling and precision clean. In most cases, a quick but thorough clean should only take you 15-20 minutes.

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