How can I clean my laptop screen safely?

laptop screen
Clean up: take care when wiping laptop screens

Gone are the days when you could clean a screen with a can of Mr Sheen and a pair of your old pants (everyone did that, right?). Today’s computer screens are delicate beasts, often sprayed with a delicate fingerprint-resistant coating that doesn’t get on well with abrasive chemicals. So how do you clean a laptop screen of daily detritus without doing damage?

This article is an extract from Help! My Computer Is Broken. Click here to find out more and order a copy.

The good news is you don’t need any expensive equipment – a cheap microfibre cloth is your friend here. Neither do you necessarily need to invest in these expensive LCD screen sprays that are flogged on Amazon and computer stores. Most screen spots and smears can be removed by simply damping the cloth with plain water.

First, try cleaning the screen with the dry microfibre cloth. Don’t press too hard on the screen – this isn’t the solid screen of years ago, but a thin layer of glass/plastic with delicate crystals lying just beneath the surface. If you apply too much force, you could permanently damage your screen.

If that doesn’t shift all the grime, then lightly dampen the cloth with water and try again. It’s vital the cloth isn’t so soaked that drips could fall down the screen and into the bezel. Not unless you’re keen on the smell of shorted electronics, anyway.

If you need to call in the chemical big guns to shift a stubborn spot, then be super-careful about the screen cleaner you choose. Dell recommends that you don’t choose a cleaner with any of the following chemicals for cleaning LCD screens: acetone, ethyl alcohol, toluene, ethyl acid, ammonia, or methyl chloride.

If the chemicals used in a cleaner aren’t listed, don’t use it. You’re better off with a slightly dirty screen than one that’s had its coating removed by chemicals. If you’re using a cleaning spray, do not squirt it directly on the screen. Spray on the cloth to avoid drips running into the bezels or over the keyboard of a laptop. 

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.