Laptop cleaning guide: How to safely clean your laptop

Cleaning your laptop and devices is something a lot of computer users forget to do all the time. We’re sometimes not aware of the dust or lint that can clump up inside our computers. This can create problems down the line and should be dealt with quickly. Here’s our guide to safely cleaning your laptop inside and out.

Things that need to be cleaned off


Dust can get on and inside the laptop and cause some pretty big problems, if you’re not careful enough. A little dust inside is fine, but you should probably prevent it from accumulating.

When dust bunnies clump up inside the laptop, it can trap heat that is harmful to the system. While you use your laptop, the processor and video card can generate a significant amount of heat that needs to be dispersed quickly and efficiently. That’s where the fan comes in. The heat sink transfers the heat generated by the processors to the laptop fans, which passes out from the vents.

If dust is trapped inside the laptop and blocks the vents, this will make it harder for the fans to get rid of the heat. This may elevate the risk of overheating, something you definitely want to avoid. That’s because an overheating laptop can cause fan and motherboard failures.

Food crumbs

Food crumbs and glass of milk on tablecloth

We all do it at some point. Eating over our laptop keyboards has become a bit of a habit today. We’ve become so reliant on our devices that daily activities revolve around them. But, the food crumbs that land onto your keyboard can find its way inside the laptop and cause trouble for the keyboard.

Unless you have a keyboard protector, food crumbs can get inside the laptop through the tiny gaps between the keys and the inside of the laptop. Crumbs that are particularly hard can jam up the keys and further damage the keyboard.

Meanwhile, sugary foods can make the connective parts of the keyboard sticky, which makes typing very inconvenient. Not to mention that it can attract bugs as well. We’ve certainly opened quite a few computers up to find creepy crawlies inside. Not something you’d want to deal with.

Skin oils

You’ll find these especially on the surfaces of your laptop, especially visible on glass-paneled screens. Fingerprints and skin oils transferred from your hands can stay on your laptop for quite a while, and are quite noticeable.

It’s not that this is something that can directly harm your computer, but this might be something you still want to clean off. You can really tell a lot about a person depending on how their laptops look.


Because of how much we use our devices, our smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers are high contact surfaces. This means that they are magnets for germs. Germs and possibly viruses can live in these surfaces for many hours, so you might want to give them a clean for good measure.

What you need

microfibre cloth for cleaning electronics laptop

Cleaning your laptop isn’t like cleaning any other appliance, you’ll need a few specific tools and some careful hands to do so. Here’s what you need to clean your laptop thoroughly:

Compressed air can — For blowing out debris. Usually comes with a small nozzle that can reach dust stuck between small gaps.

Lint-free cloth — Microfibre cloth that doesn’t leave behind lint or cloth fibres. Most commonly used for wiping glasses and electronics, or car detailing.

Rubbing alcohol — Also known as isopropyl alcohol, a cleaning solution that can clear greasy surfaces and moisture. Can be used as disinfectant as well.

Precision screwdrivers — To open up your laptop’s back cover. Make sure you’ve got the right screwdrivers, as some laptop models make use of branded proprietary screws.

Small brush (optional ) — If you already can manage to blow out dust with the canned air, this won’t be necessary. Still a useful tool for cleaning if needed.

Thermal paste (optional) — This allows efficient transfer of heat through the heat sink and processors. You’ll need to partially disassemble these parts to reapply thermal paste.

Alternatively, you could also look online for ‘laptop cleaning kits’ that often contain a few of the items mentioned above. These could come in handy if you don’t have any of these things lying around at home.

How to clean your laptop

With the tools needed, you can finally start cleaning your laptop. Make sure you’re in a clean environment before you do so too. Clear out your desk and prepare a small bowl or tin to store the screws so you don’t lose them while you’re cleaning out the laptop.

Remember to turn off your laptop and disconnect its charger as well. This protects you from any static electricity accidents.

Cleaning the exterior surfaces of your laptop

Once you’ve done all your preparations, use the compressed air to blow on the surface of the keyboard. Try to blow out all the bits inside out of the keyboard.

After this, dampen the cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the surfaces of the laptop. The keyboard, screen, top cover, all of it. If you use any computer peripherals like a wireless mouse or keyboard, do that too. This should dry off quickly and we can move on to the inside of the laptop.

Cleaning the interior of your laptop

Now this is where we have to be extra careful. Unscrew the back cover of your laptop and store the screws in the container that you’ve prepared. Then use the compressed air and give the laptop a good blow out.

The two main areas to take care of are the air vents and the fan. The vents should be at the sides or back of the laptop. Make sure you clear out any dust bunnies that block the vents and the fan. This is where heat is dispersed so it’ll need clear access.

If you’ve got the tools already, you could also partially disassemble the parts that connect the heat sink and processors to reapply thermal paste. Wipe off the leftover paste with rubbing alcohol, then squeeze a good amount of thermal paste, just enough to cover the connective parts.

When you’re done, simply screw everything back together. Don’t forget to clean your surroundings as well. If the laptop turns on normally, you’ve done your job well.

Software “cleaning” and restoring your computer

Often users may refer “cleaning” to software cleaning and restoration of their computer to factory settings, with or without keeping personal data.

This is often beneficial if you suspect that your computer has viruses or spyware. Or, sometimes you’ve just built up too many unused software and apps over the years and want to get rid of them.

In this case, a hard drive cleanup and software restoration will be your best option. This will also give your computer a small boost in performance and bring it to a “clean” state.

How often should I clean my laptop?

Laptop cleaning should be done from time to time as regular maintenance for the device. But how often should we be doing it?

For the surfaces of the laptop, it doesn’t matter that much. You can wipe it down every once in a while, and even more often as you’d like. But for the inside of the laptop, you’ll only need to clean it every 6 or 12 months. We don’t recommend opening up the laptop too much, unless you absolutely need it for repairs. Opening up the laptop exposes the laptop to the open air, and the higher the frequency that you open it up, the more accidents may happen to it.

Professional laptop cleaning and repairs at Safemode Computer Service

Prefer some much more experienced hands to deal with your dusty laptop? Or need an electric blower to clean out your desktop computer? We’re here to help. At Safemode Computer Service, we can help you clean out your laptop and reapply thermal paste on it as well. We can also help you if you need a new laptop fan, or solve your overheating problems.

Located in Inner West Sydney, our expert technicians are always happy to lend a hand and give advice on your computer problems. Come on down to our Enmore store or give us a call today!