In this report

How to clean a computer

Last reviewed: November 2010
Cleaning a laptop screen
Dirt begone
Don't use liquids with ammonia to remove screen smudges and dust.

If you can't remember the last time you cleaned your computer, it's probably time. Computers attract their share of dust and crumbs, maybe from too many snacks while you're working. These tips from testers in our computer lab can help keep your machine humming. (For safety, turn off and unplug the computer before cleaning it.)

Clean the keyboard

Keyboards seem to be a magnet for crumbs. While it might be tempting to just flip it upside down and shake out the crud, don't do that. The particles could get under the key caps, which protect the key switches. Instead, gently vacuum the keyboard with the dusting brush connected to the flexible hose on your vacuum. Or use a can of compressed air.

Cover up

You can get ahead of the crud by putting a flexible plastic cover over the keyboard to protect it.

Clean the display

Spray some nonammoniated glass cleaner or put a drop of dishwashing liquid on a soft, damp, lint-free cloth and then wipe the screen. Avoid cleaners that contain ammonia, which will harm the plastic surface. Check your computer's manual for its specific recommendations.

Bust the dust

See clumps of dust around the openings in your computer case? Use the vacuum brush to clear them away. Ventilation helps keep a computer cool.