Can I Use Water to Clean My Laptop Screen? (With Two Alternatives)


Laptop in a Sink with Running Water

I spend a lot of time on my laptop, as do most people nowadays, and, after a while, dust and smudges will inevitably build up on the screen. This is most obvious before the device is powered on and the screen is black. Since I work out of my car, I usually do not have any type of cleaner on me, so I recently wondered if a bit of water on a paper towel would do the trick. I did some research and testing, and this is what I learned.

With a careful and gentle application, a laptop screen can be wiped down and cleaned with water without an issue. Contrary to popular belief, laptop computer screens are surprisingly sturdy and can withstand the occasional wipe-down when dirt and dust pile up.

Now let’s take a closer look at a few other questions you might have, quickly go through a step-by-step cleaning process, and highlight a couple of solid alternatives to keep that screen clear and clean.

Will Water Damage My Laptop?

Laptops are meant to stay dry and kept away from the natural elements. However, minuscule amounts of water (such as from a spray bottle) will not harm your screen. In fact, it is recommended that you conduct regular cleaning sessions to your entire laptop computer as we apply oil with every key-tap and mouse-click.

With regular cleaning, your laptop will remain free of unwanted gunk. But beware, never spray your laptop directly, especially the screen. Instead, apply the bit of water to a microfiber towel and wipe.

If, however, there is excess liquid dropped directly onto the laptop or, in a terrible situation, submerged in water, the possibility of damage is almost inevitable. Always keep drinks away from your machine to avoid accidental spills and possible damage.

Do Paper Towels Work?

Although useful for household spills, mirrors and windows, paper towels or regular towels are too rough and will surely leave a mess of lint on your screen.

To avoid this and best clean your laptop screen without the mess, use a small microfiber cloth. These cloths are ideal when wiping laptop screens. Their lack of lint and ridiculously soft and gentle fabric ensures your screen does not get scratched.

Invest some cash in inexpensive microfiber towels–you can find all sorts of styles in an online retailer such as Amazon.

Pro Tip: These microfiber towels are also safe to use on television screens, eye-glasses, smart-phones, tablets, and camera lenses.

Step-By-Step Process to a Cleaner Laptop

Here are the best practices you can follow in order to ensure you clean your screen correctly:

  1. Completely shut your laptop down (not sleep mode) and remove the power source cord.
  2. If possible, and if only you feel comfortable, remove the battery from the housing.
  3. *If you are not comfortable, disregard and move to the next step as it is still safe to continue*
  4. With a dry and clean microfiber cloth, start by applying minimal pressure in a side-to-side motion on your laptop screen.
  5. This will remove dirt and particles prior to introducing liquid.
  6. In a spray bottle, add water and gently spray directly onto your microfiber cloths (not your laptop screen!) once all loose particles are removed.
  7. With another microfiber cloth, wipe off the excess water covering the marked spots.
  8. If needed, spray with a bit more water and repeat the process.

Pro Tip: For a final buff, ensure all moisture is gone. Then, take an unused microfiber towel and, with circular motions, buff out any last streaks left behind. This will give you a clean, slick look to your laptop screen

What Other Household Items Can I Use to Clean My Laptop Screen?

You can use water with a drop of dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and even distilled vinegar in minor quantities.

Tip: There is nothing more annoying than crumbs in between your keyboard keys. Nothing works better against this than compressed air. You can find the cans online or at your local office supply store.

Is Windex Safe to Use on My Laptop Screen?

With their portable profiles, it is not uncommon for laptops to become filthy with fingerprints and oil due to their constant movement. These movements range from transporting from one location to the next or a simple moving of the screen forward and backward to meet our needs.

These issues become even more prevalent if you have a touch-screen feature on your laptop. The natural build-up oil from your hands and fingers will leave annoying fingerprints and streaks that make typing and reading difficult.

So, to mitigate this issue, feel free to use your Windex as it is not only safe, it is an excellent alternative to store-bought cleaners which can become expensive over time. As long as you do not spray Windex directly onto your laptop screen, you will not damage it.

To clean, be cognizant and only lightly spray the Windex onto the microfiber towel (one half-spray of solution). Gently pass over your laptop screen and repeat if necessary.

Pro Tip: If you have cracks or scratches on your screen, do not use Windex or any liquid for that matter. Have the screen fixed before introducing liquid as it may penetrate into your inner workings and permanently damage the internal components.

Can You Use Alcohol Wipes to Clean the Surface of My Laptop/Screen?

Alcohol wipes are a simple alternative to both disinfecting your laptop, along with getting stubborn stains off your screen. With its effectiveness against oil, alcohol may certainly be used to clean your laptop.

Alcohol also has quick-drying properties, which make it ideal when dealing with an overly-stained machine.

However, avoid using wipes that are significantly soaked. Ring-out the excess alcohol solution to avoid dripping. Wipe dry and remove any remaining streaks with a microfiber towel. If possible, finish drying with a fan–do not let excess liquid sit!

Final Thoughts

As long as you follow the simple guidelines laid out in this article, you should be able to enjoy many years of clean and clear use of your laptop or favorite device. And, the good news is you don’t have to invest a bunch of your hard-earned cash on fancy specialized cleaners in order to do so.

I hope this post has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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