Introduction: How to Clean a Laptop Screen With Household Products

Picture of How to Clean a Laptop Screen With Household Products

If you are like me, your laptop screen gets dirty, smeared, gunky, and full of fingerprints. And thats not even all.

But how to clean it without ruining your laptop? Surely there is something in your home that can clean it properly and wont damage the screen.

Yes there is, and this instructable will show you what to use.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
  • Vinegar or Isopropyl alcohol (Rubbing alcohol) (I am using Isopropyl Alcohol, but the mixture amounts are the same for them both)
  • Distilled water
  • A soft cotton cloth (a terry towel)
  • 1 bottle sprayer


NEVER drink isopropyl alcohol. You will get sick and have to have your stomach pumped or have activated charcoal administered.

Do not use paper towels, they are made with wood fiber and can scratch the LCD screen. Not even 100% Recycled. Just Dont.

Avoid using products such as Windex because these contain ammonia and it can degrade the LCD panel.

Using a lint-free microfiber cloth is best, an "old T-shirt" or other soft cloth can introduce dust and lint which may be detrimental to the computer itself.

If in doubt, test a small area of screen first.

Step 2: Make the Solution

Picture of Make the Solution

Dilute isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol, as it may contain oil) into a solution that is 50% alcohol and 50% with distilled water / deionised water, or there abouts. You want them to be even. Purified / bottled water works well too.

You dont want to have any mineral markings show up on your screen, so make sure you use the right water.

If you remember from the first step (picture will be below again) the isopropyl that I am using is 70% by volume, which means its 30% water. So you want to make sure to only add 20% water to the solution.

Your isopropyl will vary, but its normally sold at 70% and 91% (add 20% water or 41% water). You dont have to be too perfect with the amounts, but as close as possible is best.

If you want to get 99.9% isopropyl alcohol so that you can do the 50/50 yourself easier, please look at How to "Salt Out" by member thinkahead.

Step 3: Mixing

Picture of Mixing

Put the solution in a small spray bottle.

DO NOT spray on the screen itself.

Step 4: Applying

Picture of Applying

Apply the solution to a cotton cloth, such as an old T-shirt, lint-free microfiber cloth, or other very soft cloth.

Just not a paper towel, anything abrasive, or overly linty.

A large cloth is best, since it will help to reduce the risk of leaving streaks across the screen from finger pressure.

Step 5: Turn Off the Laptop

Shut down your laptop, unplug it from the power adapter, and remove the battery before cleaning it or you can risk damaging the pixels in the LCD display.

You dont need a picture for this step I hope.

Step 6: Cleaning

Picture of Cleaning

Wipe the cloth with the cleaner along the screen, making sure to get along the sides and in the corners. If you press to hard, you risk damaging the screen. You dont want to do that.

You can see below the using and wiping of the cloth and the dirty screens of my two laptops, as well as how well this works.

Step 7: Tips

Helpful Tips on this subject

  • Plastic and glass cleaners containing ammonia may leave a glare-causing film.
  • Expensive store-bought products contain the same mixture of alcohol and water. Others include Ethylene Glycol. You really do not need all these additions, which may be harmful to your health and to the environment.
  • If you apply too much of the solution and it is drippy or too damp, wipe it off with a soft cloth and apply less.
  • Tissues, napkins, and other paper products will leave flakes of paper on your monitor. It's better to not even try using them. They may even scratch polished surfaces.
  • You don't want mineral spots on your screen, so don't use tap water.
  • Using a 100% cotton cloth or shirt alone, without the alcohol mix, can sometimes produce the same smudge-free results without going to the trouble of mixing your own solution.
  • If you're a photographer, you can use your lint-free lens wipes instead of a soft cotton cloth.
  • If you are looking for a cheap way to get your hands on ready-made cleaning solution, try CD/DVD cleaner, which is often 55% Isopropyl alcohol and is not harmful to most plastic surfaces.
  • Lint free cotton cloth will work best.
  • If you are the owner of a lacquered instrument you can use a dry polishing cloth. You have to use a bit more force with dried on spots, but with smudges it works just fine.
  • If you have lens cleaner for eyeglasses, check the back to see if it contains "Isopropanol" as it should work just as well, and may already come in the proper spray bottle.
  • I have heard that IBM laptops have a drain built into the sealed keyboard tray. They recommend pouring water in the keyboard to further drain any sticky liquids (coffee, pop, etc) and just letting it air-dry. I dont know about this at all, but if you try it, plan to set time aside to clean your laptop computer so that you will not be rushed and can do a thorough job. Rushing through cleaning your laptop computer will lead to problems and potential for damage to your laptop computer. You should do a complete cleaning of your laptop on a regular basis to keep it running properly.

Tip from members

From killerjackalope
  • Another source of lint free cloths is the one that comes with plasma TVs it's the same kind of clother used for lenses and whatnot, for some reason you're not supposed to touch the actual screen and water is only safe but should only be used when necessary, damage will occur otherwise, bottom line the cloth you get is safe for LCDs if you have a glass fronted LCD you have less to worry about though.


agis68 (author)2009-03-01

Alcohol like the ethyl alcohol...can damage some kind of surfaces that react to alcohol. Surfaces like that are rubber keys and classic keyboards. Why? because underneath the keyboard has graphite as contacts. The graphite with Alcohol is diluted and makes a mug that makes keys after some days to stick like glue....(forgive my bad English) Isopropyl Alcohol might be ok, but always use it with gloves and respiratory filter because the fumes are lethal. The best ever to clean your PC or Laptop is worm water (30-35 C) with a soft cotton cloth. No clean paper from the kitchen because contains pieces of glass to maintain hard work. A piece of cotton or from cloth is ok....and remember the TFT screens doesn't like much pressure....

RachaelA12 (author)agis682017-01-16

Not if you dilute it with water lets say 1/4 alcohol and 3/4 water that would work great plus you wouldnt have to worry about all the problems just using rubbing alcohol could possibly cause you but you wont know till you try!!!

laminterious (author)agis682009-03-12

Where do you come by the information that the fumes of isoprophyl are lethal???

laminterious (author)agis682009-03-15

still looking, because none of those links on the google search shows that isoprophyl fumes are lethal. Why dont you actually do the leg work and prove it.

CarlyMcMenoman (author)2015-02-14

That worked better than I could have expected and I knew going in how well Isopropyl works. Apparently, I forgot that I purchased a laptop with a slight burgundy hue. Thanks!

LarryS4 (author)2015-02-10

Your formula sure works great. The screen is shinier than new...thanks pal.

ressing1 (author)2010-07-18

Using the Salting Out method leaves some salt in the alcohol. This may not work well for cleaning LCDs.

jqfive (author)2009-09-27

i dont know about vinegar and alchohol, i rather stick to clean distilled water and a nice soft 100 percent cotton cloth. it works for me .

carrierpilot1357 (author)2009-07-30

does it matter if the screen is matte or glossy?

Cmos4081 (author)2009-04-10

Never do this with the LCD monitor or Laptop on. Always power them off first!

slimguy379 (author)2008-12-21

i repair electronics as a part time job and i go through rubbing alcohol like its candy.....

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-05-01

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! alcohol can discolor some screens!

static (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-07-31

But alcohol isn't always alcohol. I understand that ethyl alcohol shouldn't be used but, isopropyl alcohol is OK. Of course everyone needs to decide for themselves what risks there are.

keng (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-05-01

I'm with the penguin on chemicals at all....just water and this cloth

laminterious (author)keng2008-05-01

Using just water alone can and will work. However, if your screen is pretty dirty (as my wife's was) then using just water may cause you to push harder against the screen to get more of the dirt off, which can cause damage. Also, using just water, you run the risk of water and moisture getting inside your case and behind the screen itself. By using isopropyl alcohol, if that were to happen, it will evaporate quickly, with a much lower chance to ruin your electronics.

keng (author)laminterious2008-05-02

" run the risk of water and moisture getting inside your case and behind the screen itself." that would never happen if you do it correctly by dampening the cloth rather than dampening the screen. 80)

laminterious (author)keng2008-05-02

Well, the main worry is that you dampen the cloth too much, to cause excess water. It's a fine line, hence why I would prefer isopropyl, you lessen that risk by alot. Even if you over saturate the cloth.

LinuxH4x0r (author)keng2008-05-01

Yep. I use a similar one I got with my mac

laminterious (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-05-01

Not rubbing alcohol that is diluted to 50/50. Normal alcohol can and will, and there is a chance that just plain isopropyl will as well, which is why you dilute it. It adds a bit of astringent to the water as well as making it dry quick. Another thing, you are not supposed to press hard at all... cleaning the LCD screens is supposed to be nice and gentle.

static (author)2008-07-31

I see why your are the winner. Others didn't point out that "rubbing alcohol" contains more than isopropyl alcohol and water.

Tester5000 (author)2008-07-31

OOPS, I forgot step 1, and electrocuted the cat lying on the sofa... my coffee was hot again though!

alvie (author)2008-07-21

1) Turn off the laptop or monitor. 2) Wet a small (3 or 4 inch) sponge with tap water, add 3 or 4 drops of liquid dish washing soap (non toxic & biodegradable preferred). 3) Rub all over the screen. Look from the side to see the greasy spots and get them off. The sponge shouldn't drip, you don't want to get water into the screen. 4) Rinse the sponge well, wipe the screen with end-to-end horizontal swipes from the top. Use just enough pressure to pick up the soap from the screen, so the screen is almost dry behind the sponge. Use a different edge of the sponge for each swipe, and rinse the sponge again in running tap water when you run out of clean edges. 5) Repeat with vertical wipes, top to bottom. Done. No drying needed. Distilled water is overkill, if you use the correct pressure on the sponge it will pick up 99% of the water with anything dissolved in it. Same goes for alcohol, as regular dish washing soap is more than enough for this job and there's no risk of damaging the coating. Enjoy!

chergingerl (author)alvie2008-07-22

:) YOU must not have tap water like ours! (Ours comes with more scrubbing power (particles) than a cleanser! LOL)

Tamaresque (author)2008-05-08

I've only ever used vinegar diluted in filtered water. Works wonderfully. Now I've got the gals at work using it on their screens, too.

laminterious (author)Tamaresque2008-05-08

Yup, as I mentioned, vinegar works just as well. I just dont like the smell of vinegar, so I use isopropyl alcohol instead.

killerjackalope (author)2008-05-01

Another source of lint free cloths is the one that comes with plasma TVs it's the same kind of clother used for lenses and whatnot, for some reason you're not supposed to touch the actual screen and water is only safe but should only be used when necessary, damage will occur otherwise, bottom line the cloth you get is safe for LCDs if you have a glass fronted LCD you have less to worry about though. Good instructable, lots of smart safe tips, I've made the mistake of marking and LCD screen with a paper towel before, I just didn't think about it and it does make marks on the screen.

Ahh, I didnt think about those, I will add it, thanks! You are not supposed to touch the screens because even slight pressure from a finger can screw up the pixels.

Yeah but it's odd you'd think they'd just glass front them...

Yea I know... but another aspect to our "Buy, use, break a small part, and throw away." culture. I have a sneaking suspicion they dont add glass to some to increase the rate of people breaking/ruining them. Sadly.

No point in doing that, for items like that the price of insurance for three years is £10 we bought it, covers everything including knocking it over and apparently natural disasters... About a wekk after we got it my gf at the time rolled in to it in the office chair she had trouble getting balance on, no damage despite some thump from the chair corner, accompanied by a few seconds of ominous rocking back and forward...

Huh... my insurance didnt cover squat.

You mean the warranty... they call part of it insurance though it's really the manufacturers warranty, that and if you complain about it they just give in, the companies have enough money to shut you up by giving you a new one, we have a succession of PS2's to prove it, we made them renew the insurance each time we were given a new one, hence we now have a total of four... all of which ended up working mostly, one is perfectly fine, one only plays games, one grumps a bit but works and the other is just a little broken in general...

About This Instructable




More by laminterious:How to watch Hulu and Sling outside the US!How to Build a Tripod Head for $10 that is PanoramicHow to make a David Miscavige (or any one) paper mask
Add instructable to: