The DIY Guide To Cleaning Your Laptop Hardware

Are you ready for spring cleaning?

Have you included your laptop on your to-do list?

If not, you should know that failing to clean your laptop can affect its performance.

And I don’t just mean dusting off the keyboard and screen. Cleaning the inside of your laptop is as important as cleaning the outside, and maybe even more so.

Just like desktop computers, laptops can suck a lot of dust over time. Laptops should actually be cleaned more frequently since their components are close to each other.

Dirt and dust can have detrimental effects on your laptop’s performance.

When your laptop isn’t clean, your fan will have to run constantly. This will result in overheating of your laptop and damage to your system’s components. They may even stop working altogether.

Let’s start cleaning.

What Supplies Will I Need?

  • Soft, lint-free cloths
  • Mild dish detergent, such as Dawn
  • A can of compressed air
  • A computer vacuum cleaner (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton pads

What Parts Should I Clean?

  • Keyboard
  • Touchpad
  • Cover
  • Screen
  • Inside

A word of caution.

Before you start to do any cleaning, make sure you turn off your laptop. If you don’t, it might cause huge damage to your device. Also, remove the battery if possible.


Laptop Keyboards

Let’s start by cleaning the keyboard.

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Even if it’s your personal laptop and no one else uses it, it will still need cleaning.

Begin by vacuuming the keyboard. This will help to remove any crumbs that might have fallen between the keys. Also, it will remove the dust underneath the keys. You can use a computer vacuum cleaner or a can of compressed air for this task.

Afterwards, you can clean the keys with a lint-free cloth. Spray the cloth with vinegar or isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Some people prefer vinegar since it’s a natural product and much easier to find in your kitchen.

Others may prefer rubbing alcohol as it evaporates quickly and can remove any oily residue on your keys. Alcohol will also act as a sanitiser for your keyboard.

Finally, you can dip a cotton swab in the rubbing alcohol and clean in between the keys. Make sure you don’t fully soak the cotton swab in the alcohol since it might not evaporate fully.


Cleaning Touchpad with Cloth

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Touchpads should be cleaned regularly.

If not, it may become unresponsive to touches or clicks. This one is a very easy component to clean.

You simply need to dampen a lint-free piece of cloth with some water and wipe the pad with it. Then, dry it by wiping gently with a clean dry piece of cloth.

Instead of water, you can also use rubbing alcohol on the pad to clean it. In this case, you won’t need to dry it with a second piece of cloth.


Cleaning Laptop Monitors

Laptop screens are also very easy to clean.

It’s better to use a microfiber cloth than cotton or lint-free cloth. Microfiber can clean the dust off your screen without scratching its surface.

You will need to use distilled water instead of tap water. Distilled water is pure and doesn’t include the chlorine and minerals that could be in tap water and which can harm your screen. Make a mixture that is 50% distilled water and 50% rubbing alcohol or vinegar.

Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on a piece of cloth. Make sure that you don’t spray directly on the screen, as this can lead to major damage.

Wipe the screen gently in circular motions. Don’t scrape smudges off. Instead, let the solution dissolve them. Repeat the process if needed. When you are finished you might want to dry the screen with a dry, clean cloth.

You can clean the screen with a damp sponge instead of a piece of cloth. Just make sure that there is no excess liquid, or it might harm your laptop. Again, after wiping the screen, dry it with a piece of cloth.


Cleaning Outside

Mix some mild dish detergent with water.

The ratio should be 1 part detergent to 5 parts water. Dip the sponge in the solution and wipe your laptop case gently to remove stains and dust.

Make sure that your sponge is almost dry, with no dripping liquid. Don’t let the sponge enter into the PC card slots or USB slots, since it might leak inside. Dry the case by wiping it with a dry, clean lint-free cloth.


You have two options to clean the inside of your laptop.

The first is to open up your laptop and take out its components. Then, clean them individually and reassemble them again.

This process ensures thorough cleaning and elimination of all the dust. However, if you aren’t too careful or experienced, you can damage any component by removing it incorrectly. You might also not be able to reassemble the parts successfully after cleaning.

I will guide you through both options:

Clean Without Opening Your Laptop

If you don’t feel comfortable opening your laptop by removing the cover, you can still clean it without opening it. Keep in mind that most modern laptops are actually not designed to be opened easily.

To clean inside without opening the laptop, use a can of compressed air. Try to locate any opening to let the air get through them. You can direct your air spray towards the keyboard, USB ports, or charger port.

Make sure that you blow short air strokes because long blows will create moisture that can enter into internal components. If you have dust bunnies on your vents, dust them away with the compressed air can. Don’t wipe them with a cloth since it can cause them to stick to the vent.

Clean by Opening Your Laptop

Laptop Cleaning Inside

If you feel more adventurous and want to open your laptop to clean it, I am here to walk you through it.

First, make sure you read your laptop’s manual to know if there are specific instructions for opening it. Also, double-check if opening the laptop will invalidate the warranty.

Make sure you have turned off your laptop at least 15 minutes before you start opening it. Some of the components might need to cool off before cleaning.

While cleaning the inside of your laptop, don’t wear clothes that can generate static electricity, such as wool. If this is transferred to the laptop components when you touch them, they can be damaged.

Remove your laptop’s cover using a screwdriver. Start blowing the inside of the laptop using short bursts of compressed air. Make sure that you are blowing the dust out of the laptop, not around the components.

Cleaning Laptop Inside

If your laptop needs further cleaning and, if you dare, you can take all the parts out and clean them. Start by removing the service cover. Afterwards, unscrew the hard drive and remove it.

Next, remove the optical drive, SD card placeholder, and palm rest. You can also remove the keyboard from the laptop for further cleaning.

Turn your laptop upside-down and take away the cover and disconnect any cables. You should also disconnect your fan.

Be sure to uncover the fan’s blades so that you can clean them. Remove the input/output cable.

Make certain that the cleaning process is completely dry for all the internal components.

Use dry cotton pads and cotton swabs to wipe away dust. Then you can use the compressed air can blow away any residue of dust.

If your laptop has been noisy, this is usually because your fan isn’t clean. Be very careful while cleaning this component. If you use compressed air, don’t let the air spin the blade quickly since it might damage the fan.

It’s best to use cotton pads to remove the dust on the internal components. You can also use cotton swabs to reach narrow areas.

For the blades, use a cotton pad, with cotton swabs to access between the blades.  Another option is to use a paintbrush to remove the dust.

Turn the fan upside down to let the remaining dust fall out.

Fans can be damaged if they are left for a long time without being cleaned. This is especially true if you smoke cigarettes or own a pet. Regular cleaning is an important step to keep your fan working well.

What if the problem of the fan’s noise and performance is persistent after cleaning it? You might want to consider replacing it. There are lots of fans available online, but be sure to do your research.

Laptop Fans

You have to check if the fan will be compatible with your laptop’s model.

Also, check the fan’s dimensions to be sure it will fit inside your laptop. In most cases, it’s best to consult a professional or your laptop’s manufacturer.

After cleaning all the components, it’s time to reassemble your laptop again. It’s a good tip to keep each component next to its screws. This makes the re-assembly process much easier.


After following the tips in this guide to cleaning your laptop hardware, you won’t only feel better, but you will also notice that your laptop is quieter.

In addition, your laptop’s temperature will decrease and this will, in turn, increase its lifespan.

About the Author Marcus

Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.

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