Yes, it's time to learn how to clean a laptop screen

See ya, smudges

Laptop with pink accessories on desk
(Image credit: Andrijana Bozic / Unsplash)

If you’re reading this on a desktop computer or your laptop, and it’s looking a little hard to read, there’s probably no reason to adjust your screen. You probably just need to clean it. When it comes to keeping your dorm, home, or apartment clean, it's hard to remember every nook, cranny, and device that needs attention. And like a lot of boring cleaning tasks, the not-so-urgent chores get pushed to the side.

But, here's your sign to get your electronics sparkling again. If you’ve been hesitant to clean your screen because you’re afraid to ruin your device or simply don't know how to — just know it's easier than you think. Here’s how to clean your screen, according to an expert. 

Good to know

When it comes to cleaning electronics, you may think you'll need fancy tools or solutions. Luckily, it only takes a few supplies to get your screen looking brand new again. Because you are working with electrical components, always ensure your devices are unplugged and use a little water at a time. 

Here's what you'll need

How to clean a laptop screen

Step 1: Unplug your device and turn it off

Whether it is a laptop or the screen for a desktop computer, it’s crucial to unplug the device no matter what. Accidents can, unfortunately, happen even to the most careful of people and you don’t want to risk frying your device or causing any dangerous situations for yourself.

Step 2: Prep your distilled water

Pam Clyde, president of BritLin Cleaning in Austin, Texas tells me to the next step is to prepare the distilled water. You can buy distilled water at most drugstores or supermarkets. Alternatively, you can make your own by boiling tap water on the stove. Be sure to let it cool down for at least a few hours before using it to clean. If it is too hot, it can cause damage or even burn your fingertips. Once it's ready, pour the water into a spray bottle. 

Step 3: Wipe the screen with your microfiber cloth

Clyde tells me the next step is to take a dry microfiber cloth and lightly wipe away surface dust, dirt, and other debris.  

Step 4: Spray the screen and wipe down again

Now it's time to really start cleaning. “Computer screens are very delicate," says Clyde. "Especially those that are touch screens so you never want to spray it directly with a substance." After that, she explains you can use the clean side of the cloth (or a new one entirely if you have it on hand) and spray it with distilled water. Then use your cloth to gently wipe the water off, taking any dirt or smudges with it.


Is it okay to clean a laptop screen with water?

Yes, it is. If you don’t have distilled water or don’t want to go through the process of distilling water to clean your laptop screen, you can use regular water. Still, proceed with caution. Know that distilled water will clean your computer screen better than water can and won’t leave any excess streaks or spots. Don't forget to spay it on the microfiber cloth before using it.  

Can I use alcohol wipes to clean my computer screen?

“Some professionals say that alcohol wipes can be used on computer screens,” says Clyde. However, it depends on what type of computer screen you have. For example, HP advises not to use alcohol if you have an LCD screen becasue it can cause damage to it.

However, if your screen isn’t LCD and you have extra challenging debris such as food, stuck-on crumbs, or pet hair to tackle, you can try using an alcohol wipe to spot clean. Then, do an overall cleaning using the method described above.

Products to consider for cleaning a computer screen

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of cleaning with distilled water or would just prefer a product that’s simply more convenient to use, there are plenty of options available on the market. 

If you need something that’s easy to stash in your desk or a drawer and is relatively easy to use, check out PhoneSoap Shine. It is designed for phones or any device with a screen. Just be sure to follow the directions above using a microfiber cloth and don’t spray the liquid directly onto your laptop or computer screen. But note, you can directly spray your phone with this product and use the built-in microfiber cloth that’s on the bottle for those types of devices only. 

Alternatively, you may want to consider the Calyptus Screen Cleaner Spray Kit. This kit includes a cleaning spray safe for all types of devices as well as television screens. It even comes with four microfiber cloths. So you will never be without one when you need to clean your screen the most. 

Amanda Lauren

Hi, I’m Amanda Lauren. I’m a design expert and interior stylist who writes for Real Homes, Forbes, Real Simple among other publications. I live in Los Angeles in the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park with my husband, and two dogs, Lulu and Milo. We also have a baby coming in spring 2023. I’m a big believer in finding beautiful things at all price points. There are so many places to find affordable things, you just have to look for them. If you don't find it at first, look harder!