How to Clean Computer and Laptop Screens for a Clear Display

All it takes is a few minutes and some gentle care.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Skill Level: Beginner

It doesn't take long for a computer monitor or laptop screen to get dirty from dust, finger smudges, a dirty stylus, or an uncontrolled sneeze. But, if not cleaned properly, you can end up making matters worse, leaving you with a blurry or damaged screen.

The first thing you need to know before cleaning a laptop screen or computer monitor is what kind of screen you're working with—glass-coated or non-glass-coated—because different screens require different care.

Glass-coated or glass-covered screens are sturdier than non-glass-coated screens. Newer Apple products, like iMac monitors and MacBooks have a glass overlay on the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen. Non-glass-coated LCD or LED (light-emitting diode) screens appear more matte to the eye and are found on most Windows-based computers and laptops and many touchscreen devices. They can be damaged more easily if not cleaned correctly.


Screen Cleaning Tips Before You Get Started

If you don't know what kind of screen you have, take the time to visit the manufacturer's website or read the computer manual before attempting to dust or clean it. This knowledge could save you the cost of buying a new screen. If you just want to wing it, then always choose the least aggressive cleaning methods used for non-glass-coated screens.

And here are some cautionary tips to keep in mind, no matter what type of screen you're cleaning:

  • Never use a paper towel or napkin to clean the screen. They can scratch the surface and leave behind lint. Microfiber clothes are best, because they're gentle and lint-free.
  • Never use tap water for cleaning a screen, especially if you live in a hard water area. The minerals in the water can damage the screen.
  • Never spray any cleaner or plain water directly onto any type of computer or laptop screen or allow moisture to drip into the controls or ports.
  • Never wipe in circles or scrub the screen. Use a gentle touch.
  • Never use ammonia, bleach, scouring powder, or any harsh cleaner.
  • Never leave the screen on while cleaning. Power down and turn off the screen.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 3 Microfiber cloths
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Spray bottle (optional)


  • Distilled water
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol


How to Clean Glass-Covered Computer and Laptop Screens

  1. Power down.

    Turn off the computer monitor or laptop. You'll avoid an electrical mishap and a black screen makes it easier to see the dust and smudges.

  2. Gently wipe away dust (and most smudges).

    Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away dust. Fold the cloth in half and, starting at the top of the monitor, gently wipe side to side. Switch to a clean side of the cloth and wipe the screen from top to bottom. By applying gentle pressure, you can remove most of the smudges with no other cleaning supplies.

  3. Tackle stuck-on gunk.

    If the microfiber cloth didn't clear all the grime on the screen, go for another round with a clean microfiber cloth. (Don't use the one filled with dust.) Dampen the clean cloth with a couple drops of distilled water or isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Use the cloth to gently wipe away stuck-on gunk by applying light pressure to the screen.

  4. Dry the screen.

    Use another clean, dry microfiber cloth to dry the screen after damp cleaning.

  5. Clean the screen housing.

    Finally, use the previously dampened microfiber cloth or a disinfecting wipe (wring it until it is only damp) to clean and dust the housing around the computer or laptop screen.

How to Clean Non-Glass-Covered Computer and Laptop Screens

  1. Power down.

    Unplug or turn off the screen or laptop and let it cool down completely.

  2. Remove dust.

    Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to remove the dust from the screen. Fold the cloth into quarters and, starting at the top of the screen, wipe side to side using gentle pressure. As the cloth becomes soiled, move to a clean side and continue dusting.

  3. Wipe away smudges and stuck-on grime.

    If there are smudges on your non-glass-coated screen (LED or LCD) remaining after wiping with the dry cloth, slightly dampen a second, clean microfiber cloth with distilled water only. The cloth should be only slightly damp—no dripping. Use a light touch and gentle pressure to wipe only the smudged areas.

    If stuck-on bits didn't budge, mix a solution of one part distilled water and one part isopropyl alcohol. Spritz a clean microfiber cloth with the mixture (never spray anything directly on the screen) and gently wipe the grimey areas.

  4. Dry the screen.

    After cleaning with the dampened cloth, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to immediately dry the screen.

  5. Clean the screen housing.

    To remove dust and grime from the screen housing, use the previously dampened microfiber cloth to wipe away soil. If you feel the computer accessories need to be disinfected, wring a disinfectant wipe until it is nearly dry (no drips!) and wipe the housing, keyboard, and peripherals.

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