Spring Cleaning for your Computer

We get asked quite a lot about how to best clean a computer. Here are some tips to help you keep the shine on without damaging the components.

Cleaning Screens

  • Always turn off and unplug your computer before coming at it with any liquid, including cleaning wipes.
  • Cleaning the screen is best done with a dry microfiber cloth. Some computers come with a cleaning cloth, but you can also use window-cleaning cloths found at many stores.
  • If there are spots on the screen that can’t be cleaned with a dry cloth, water is your next best bet–but never clean a screen when it’s hot. Use a light spray on a cloth, never on the screen, and take care that water doesn’t drip or spray into any crevices in the computer or monitor.
  • If water isn’t doing the trick, you can purchase spray or wipes specifically formulated to clean a computer screen. Again, don’t put anything wet on a hot screen, and don’t let liquid get inside the computer or monitor.
  • With any of these methods, be sure not to apply significant force to the screen. It is possible to break screens, so be careful.

Cleaning Keyboards

  • If you are using an external keyboard, unplug it from the computer before cleaning. If you’re cleaning a laptop keyboard unplug and turn off the computer before cleaning the keyboard.
  • Remove crumbs and debris by gently shaking the keyboard upside down over a waste receptacle.
  • For a more thorough de-crumbing you can use a vacuum with a dusting attachment to try to suck out crumbs.
  • Condensed air is also an option for removing debris from keyboards, but it has to be used carefully to avoid blowing things further under the keys.
  • Most computer manufacturers suggest water for cleaning keyboards. Use a damp (not dripping!) cloth.
  • For tougher cleaning jobs, we often use damp (again, not dripping) wipes to clean keyboards. These are not generally recommended by manufacturers, however, so use care.
  • As a last resort for an external keyboard (not part of a laptop, and not a bluetooth (wireless) keyboard) that has stopped working because of a sticky spill, you can run it through the dishwasher. Make sure you securely tape up any USB or other ports, and turn the drying cycle off before you run it through. After taking it out, turn it upside down for at least two days to ensure that it is completely dry before trying it out. No guarantees, but we have seen it work.

Cleaning a Mouse

  • Unplug the mouse from your computer before cleaning.
  • Older, mechanical mice can get a lot of gunk inside them. To clean:
    1. Turn the mouse upside down and twist the retaining plate to remove it.
    2. Turn it right side up to remove the ball. You can wipe the ball with a damp cloth.
    3. Turn the mouse upside down again, and gently scrape off debris from the rollers inside the ball cavity. The trick is to remove the gunk without allowing it to fall into the circuitry of the mouse. As you scrape it off, periodically turn the mouse right side up and shake it out.
    4. When you’re done de-gunking the rollers, reassemble the mouse and test it out. If necessary, take it apart again to finish the job.
  • For optical mice, a damp cloth on the exterior is all that’s needed.

Cleaning the Case

  • Always shut down and unplug your computer before bringing anything damp or wet near it.
  • You can wipe a computer case with a cloth dampened with water, or a commercial wipe.
  • You can use a damp cloth or wipe for the trackpad, but as with all areas on your computer, be careful around the crevices.