How to Clean MacBook Computers: 5 Tips For Best Results

By: Danielle Fisher  | 
MacBook desktop computer
Have you ever considered how many germs the exterior of your Mac might harbor?
Image courtesy of Apple

When you're cleaning your house, it's easy to move the computer aside and clean underneath it. But, did you ever consider that you might actually need to clean your Mac too? Most people freeze at that moment, since they aren't sure how to clean MacBook computers without possibly impacting their functionality. They are, after all, expensive electronics products that can be easily damaged by water and chemicals!

Yet, just like the steering wheel of your car, your Mac laptop or desktop might have more germs than you think. And cleaning it isn't as easy as cleaning the rest of your house. Apple products are designed to look sleek and clean, so let's tidy up your gear. In this article, we'll explore 5 tips that can keep your MacBook air or MacBook pro models looking shiny, new, and disinfected.


Tip #5: Cleaning Your Mouse

An Apple mouse for a MacBook computer.
It is extremely important when cleaning a laptop keyboard to use as little moisture as possible, since the keys sit right on top of the main components of the computer's hardware
Image courtesy of Apple

Think about your computer habits. What part of your Mac do you touch the most? For many, it's the mouse, which means it is also has the most germs. To clean your Mac mouse, first properly disconnect it from your computer by safely ejecting it, unplugging it and taking out the batteries (depending on what type you have). Apple suggests using Lysol or Clorox disinfecting wipes to clean the top of the device [source:].

It's important when cleaning the mouse to use a soft, lint-free cloth and not too much cleanser. If you use too much, you may get cleaner into the cracks of the mouse, which will damage it permanently. If you're using a disinfectant wipe, make sure you ring it out first. If you're using a cleaner with a cloth, put the cleaner on the cloth; never spray it directly on the mouse.


If your mouse has a track ball, turn it over and rub the track ball back and forth on a clean, white piece of paper. If your mouse uses a laser, be very careful and clean this area with a dry lint cloth only. Don't use any cleaners, as they may damage the sensitivity of the laser. Finally, try to avoid taking the mouse apart. The Mac Mighty Mouse is actually glued together, so taking it apart would permanently damage the device [source: Osborne].

Tip #4: The Outside of Your Computer

The outside of your laptop or desktop can collect all kinds of grimy fingerprints, dust and germs. And if dust gets inside the vents of your desktop, it could slow down the functionality of the fans and other vital components. To clean your Mac, use a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth like a diaper you would use for dusting or a thin microfiber cloth that won't scratch the surface. And use the power button to properly shut the computer down and unplug it before you start to clean.

You could begin by using a damp cloth or a dry cloth — a Swiffer cloth works well — to gently wipe the dust off. If you're dealing with ground-in dirt and tough smudges, you can clean with a delicate cleanser. Apple warns against using aerosol sprays, bleach, solvents or abrasives that could damage the finish [source:].


Just like with cleaning your mouse, you should be careful not to get any moisture into the cracks and openings of your Mac. Even if it's a result of cleaning, Apple warranties do not cover water damage.

Tip #3: Disinfecting Your Mac's Keyboard

A keyboard for a MacBook computer.
It is extremely important when cleaning a keyboard to use as little moisture as possible.
Image courtesy of Apple

Chances are you don't wash your hands before using your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. And, let's be honest, you've probably consumed a snack or two while pounding away at the keys or perusing your Facebook wall. So it probably goes without saying that your keyboard needs a good cleaning. Compressed air is a great way to clear out small debris between the keys.

Once again, use a soft, lint-free cloth and a gentle cleanser. If you have an external keyboard, make sure you unplug it and take the batteries out if it's wireless. You should be especially gentle when cleaning the keyboard, as the keys can easily pop off with too much pressure or if a frayed cloth with loose threads catches one. It's best to clean the base of the keyboard one bridge at a time by holding down the keys on either side.


It is extremely important when cleaning a laptop keyboard to use as little moisture as possible, since the keys sit right on top of the main components of the computer's hardware and any excess moisture could drip down the sides of the keys and cause water damage. Once you've gone over everything with a disinfectant, go over it one more time with a slightly damp cloth to remove any excess cleanser that could damage the finish.

Tip #2: De-gritting Your Laptop Trackpad

The trackpad on your MacBook is a very delicate and should be treated with extreme care when cleaning. Apple strongly warns against using any type of cleaning solution on the trackpad [source:]. This includes window cleaner, alcohol and ammonia. Instead, simply use water on a barely damp, lint-free soft cloth and wipe off any excess moisture with a clean, dry cloth of the same material.

If your white MacBook trackpad has become discolored, there may be a solution. Although Apple does not actually suggest the technique on its support site, some techies recommend using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to gently rub away the grit and return it to its original white luster.


Tip #1: Making Your Screen Shine

Your Mac desktop or laptop's screen is just as delicate as the Mac trackpad. To clean it, you should use a soft, lint-free cloth that is just slightly damp with water. Apple warns against using glass cleaners like Windex or other products that contain alcohol. It's best to just use a clean cloth with a small amount of water. Be very careful because if excess moisture from your cloth gets into the microphone, camera, or other crevices, you could ruin them, or the computer.

If your screen isn't coming clean enough with just water, you can try a screen cleaner specifically designed to clean Mac screens — Monster iClean. It's available at the Apple Store and is the only cleaner and cloth designed to be safe for Mac screens.


How to Clean MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Models

Your Mac cleanup doesn't have to be terribly time-consuming to be effective. While you're tackling each of these tips, gently clean up that touch bar and power adapter of other particles that may've collected around your work area.

As long as you use the right tools listed above and avoid getting soapy water or liquid directly into any cracks, you can ensure a sanitized and refreshed look for your MacBook.


For more information on Mac products, see the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Baker, John. "How To: Clean Your Black MacBook." March 14, 2007. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Bohon, Cory. "How to Clean Your Mac." Mac Life. May 4, 2011. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Chase, Jon. "A Baker's Dozen Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Mac." Switched Huffington Post. April 7, 2011. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Fu, Peter. "Cleaning Your Laptop." The Cornell Daily Sun. March 2, 2009. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • "How to clean apple products." Support. April 5, 2011. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Hodge, Karl. "How to clean your PC of dust and dirt." March 20, 2011. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • "How to disinfect the Apple internal or external keyboard, trackpad, and mouse." Support. Aug. 12, 2010. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Jones, Hollin. "The essential guide to deep-cleaning your Mac." Nov. 9, 2008. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • "MacBook User's Guide." (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • McElhearn, Kirk. "Six ways to clean up your Mac." March 22, 2011. (Aug. 15, 2011)
  • Osborne, Ian. "How to clean your Mighty Mouse." Feb. 27, 2010. (Aug. 15, 2011)