To keep the laptop running in tip-top shape, cleaning and maintaining its software and hardware is a must!
While you can do software maintenance in a few simple clicks, hardware cleaning can be a tedious and challenging task.
Although you can dust off the screen and keyboard, it's not enough to keep your laptop in good shape.
You must get into its internal components to ensure no dust buildup can hamper its performance. So how do you do that?
This article will discuss how to clean the insides of a laptop, why laptop cleaning is essential, and tips on how to handle it when cleaning.
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What You’ll Need Before Starting
Before discussing how to clean your laptop, it is important to know that an intensive deep cleaning should be left to professionals.
If you mishandle any internal components, you could permanently damage your laptop.
However, you can still take some steps to clean it without causing problems with the computer.
We will discuss below some of the basic things you need to know to clean your laptop internally.
There are two types of laptops: easy-to-open ones and those that are almost impossible to open. We will discuss below the things you’ll need for both.
Easy to Open Laptops
When your laptop's case is easy to open, you'll need several things: a screwdriver, cleaning products, microfiber cloth (or any proper cleaning cloth), and canned compressed air.
The screwdriver depends on the brand and specific model of your laptop. You can buy a set from Amazon with almost all types of screws needed to open the computer.
For a cleaning solution, we recommend you mix 50/50 of distilled water and dish soap with vinegar. This solution can clean oil residue and other hard-to-remove tough stains.
You can also use cleaning products like isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your computer.
It's best to use a microfiber cloth to remove the dirt easily. Cotton rags or paper towels aren't advisable as they leave behind dusty debris.
Lastly, you need canned compressed air. This can be found online or in grocery stores and electronic shops.
Pressurized air can help deep clean hard-to-reach areas and dust buildup from your laptop.
Hard to Open Laptops
Many laptops are very difficult to open, making it almost impossible to clean them internally.
Some have their bottom panel glued to the laptop, while others, like Macbooks, use a special type of screw called a pentalobe that requires a special screwdriver.
With this type of laptop, you’ll need a cleaning cloth, cleaning products (like those mentioned above), and canned pressurized canned air.
Unfortunately, for this type, there's no way for you to clean it internally.
However, you can still wipe the external parts like the screen and keyboard to remove stains and dirt. If you want a deeper clean, we recommend you bring it to a professional.
So now that you know what you need to clean your laptop, follow the directions below:
How To Clean A Laptop Internally (Step By Step)
1. Turn Off Your Laptop
First, you need to completely turn off the power and unplug your laptop before cleaning it.
This might seem like common knowledge, but some don't even bother turning it off when cleaning, especially with those that can't be opened.
If you don't, you might accidentally press something and delete important documents or change a setting that you can't undo.
Important tip: If you're working with a cleaning solution or canned air, it's best to do it in a well-ventilated location. Work on a hard, flat surface like a table or desk so you won't lose moving parts easily. Also, take it somewhere you don't mind getting dusty, as you may blow dust on the surface while cleaning the parts.
Next, put a clean, dry towel on the surface before placing your laptop. This will serve as a cushion and protection for when you put your laptop upside down.
Lastly, wash and dry your hands before and after you clean the computer. If you have sensitive hands and are planning to use a cleaning solution, consider wearing latex or plastic gloves.
2. Unscrew And Open The Device
If you have an easy-to-open computer, this step is for you. Once you find the appropriate screwdriver to open the back panel of your laptop, unscrew everything.
Just be extra careful when you detach the back and ensure that the screws are stored somewhere safe.
You don't want to end up losing any of them! If you're unsure how to do this, check the laptop's manual before you do anything.
3. Remove All the Dust Using the Canned Air
Now that the laptop case is removed, you need to remove the dust in the internal parts.
Using the compressed air, blow air directly in short bursts to each of the parts you see at the back of your laptop.
Don't remove any movable parts, especially if you're unfamiliar with putting them back together.
Blow short blasts of compressed air into your laptop's fans, heat sinks, and other parts, such as the memory and processor, if you can see them.
When cleaning the laptop fan, hold it in place, as the short bursts of air can make it spin too fast and damage its mechanism.
If your laptop has a dust filter, clean it with a damp cloth, but make sure to dry it afterward.
Although some people may recommend you use a vacuum or air compressor when removing the dust, DON'T DO THIS! They might cause your hardware to break.
Stick with canned air instead, as they don't have a strong pressure that can damage your laptop.
Once you're done cleaning the internal parts, it's best to put the back panel back right away, so you won't accidentally break them.
4. Clean the Ports
The ports of your computer can accumulate a lot of dust and dirt. To clean them, use a cotton swab and gently wipe the insides of the ports. You can use the canned air to clean the ports.
By blowing air, you can remove the hard-to-reach dirt and grime buildup in the ports. If you work in a dusty environment, you'll notice that your ports have more dust than usual.
We recommend you clean them regularly, even if you're not deep cleaning your laptop to avoid connection problems.
5. Wipe The Laptop Screen
Of course, if you're cleaning your laptop's internal parts, you should also clean the external parts.
For the laptop screen, you can use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe finger marks and stains on your screen. Don't forget to wipe the edges and remove the gunk under the bezel.
One important thing to note when cleaning the laptop screen is to never use a dry cloth, as wiping your screen with one can scratch it.
6. Clean And Disinfect The Laptop Keyboard
Your keyboard is the most touched part of your laptop. Dirt, grimes, oil, and other stuff you don’t want to know. We recommend you use a microfiber cloth for this.
However, don’t just wipe it across the keyboard. If you do, the towel may latch on the key ridges and rip them off—you don’t want that to happen.
The best method is to carefully wipe every key to remove the dirty bits on top. Start by lightly dampening a small portion of the cloth using the cleaning solution we mentioned above.
Don’t let it get too wet. If you see liquid dripping out, it’s a sign you’ve used too much. Squeeze it out as the droplets may go in the keys.
Moisture in the space between the keys can harm your laptop. If there’s something in between the keys, use cotton buds to get it out.
7. Clean The Chassis And The Touchpad
The final step is to clean the touchpad and the body of your laptop. Using the same cloth, dampen a bigger portion of it with the cleaning solution.
Again, make sure that nothing is dripping. Start by wiping the palm rest, the screen border, and the touchpad. Then, close the laptop and wipe the lid.
Don't rub too hard, as you may damage the chassis of the machine. As for the final touches, slowly wipe the sides and bottom of the computer.
If there's a previous milk, coffee, or juice spill on the laptop, clean the stain by applying a small amount of cleaning solution to it.
Don't spray! Attempting to do so may damage the parts of the computer.
How To Know That Your Laptop Needs Internal Cleaning
Computers, whether a laptop or a desktop PC, usually show signs that they need inside cleaning. Below are some of the signs you need to watch out for:
Overheating is often an example that your computer needs cleaning. This is because dust can clog the vents and fans of your laptop and can prevent it from cooling down.
If it doesn't cool down, the hardware in your system will continuously overheat, which can affect its performance.
Operations Slow Down
When your laptop's components are overheating, their operation may slow down. In some cases, cleaning the software by removing unnecessary apps can fix this performance issue.
However, more often than not, it's a sign that the internal parts need cleaning.
So, when your system takes longer to boot up, or your programs are lagging, try to tidy up your computer and check if it'll fix this problem.
The Battery Drains Quickly
Besides slowing down your computer's performance, an overheated laptop drains its battery quickly. This is because the fan operates at full speed to cool down your hardware.
To ensure that your battery life will stay long, keep your vents and fan clean, as well as all the other components.
How To Avoid Damaging Your Laptop During Cleaning
Even if your laptop is stationary the whole time you're cleaning it, you'll be moving some parts in ways you don't usually do to get to all its surfaces.
If you do this process improperly, you might damage or break it. So, we have listed the following tips below when cleaning your laptop to ensure its safety:
The first and most important tip is to ensure you put as little pressure as possible when cleaning and wiping its surfaces.
By following this type, you avoid one of the most common reasons why laptops fail: broken solder traces on the board or cracked circuit boards.
These can happen when the chassis is flexed or pressed too much, not when you accidentally drop it.
Next, when picking or moving the laptop, make sure to use both hands to support both sides, especially when you grab it by the keyboard deck.
Doing this can evenly distribute pressure from your fingertips, putting less stress on the chassis.
It's also best not to pick up the laptop by its corners because doing so creates extreme pressure in one area.
Another tip, don’t lift your laptop using any part of its lid. Always close the lid before moving it. This can also prevent damage if you accidentally drop the laptop.
Also, don’t have any liquids near your cleaning area, especially if you live with pets or children that can accidentally spill them.
Lastly, don’t hold the laptop while cleaning it. It’s best to keep it on top of a towel on a flat surface to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on it.
This will also make it easy for you to clean it.
Cleaning The Inside Of A Laptop FAQs
How often should you clean the inside of your laptop?
It is recommended to clean it every 3 to 6 months. However, if you live in an environment with a lot of dust buildup, it's better to clean it more frequently.
What should you do If your PC cannot open?
If you can’t clean the inside of your computer, you can clean the exterior instead. Or, you can visit a computer specialist as they might have the equipment needed to open and clean it.
Even if your machine is working properly, you need to ensure that it gets cleaned regularly. At the same time, don’t forget to maintain your operating software as well.
Doing so can help improve its performance and extend its lifespan. Remember, laptops are an investment, and taking care of them can help you get the most out of your money.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.