Just how dirty can a laptop be? Well according to researchers at the University of Arizona, they’re filthy and can harbour 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. And not just harmless bacteria, but viruses and bugs too. So regular cleaning is a no brainer and is even more paramount if you’re not the only user.
There are lots of cleaning solutions you can use to rid your tech of grime and germs but it’s best to avoid household sprays like window cleaner or anti-bacterial sprays which often contain ammonia or alkaline and can do more harm than good.
The fail-safe arsenal for the job is a can of compressed air, a microfibre cloth, cotton buds and rubbing alcohol, which evaporates almost immediately, thus reducing the risk of liquid getting inside your laptop.
To begin the task, turn off your computer and remove any leads. Flip the keyboard upside down and shake off any loose debris. Then spray compressed air in-between the keys and over any open ports, vents or connection points to clear them of dust too. Use a short burst of air rather than longer sprays, as too much can cause moisture to accumulate.
Add a little rubbing alcohol onto the microfibre cloth (never apply the alcohol or any cleaning liquids directly onto your computer, always dab onto a cloth first and wring before using) and wipe down the screen and keyboard. Dampen a cotton bud in the rubbing alcohol and use it to clean those awkward bits between keys. You may have to repeat the process a few time to get your laptop box-fresh clean and shiny.
Personally, I prefer electronic cleaning cloths, such as Q-Connect KF04501 screen and keyboard wipes, which are like baby wipes for tech and are anti-bacterial, antistatic and nonabrasive. They’re not cheap at €7.50 for a tube but they save a lot of faffing and are super easy to whip around the keyboard.
Another novel option is to try a cleaning compound gel, which is basically a cleaning slime that you rub over the keyboard surface and pull up slowly, it catches dust, dirt, hairs and sanitizes in the process. It’s quite satisfying to use but, again, punchy at around €10 for a tub.
If your laptop is a bit whiffy – sometimes the casing can absorb the smell of cigarette smoke while and nicotine and tar residue can stick to the keys – rubbing alcohol will help somewhat but placing it overnight in a sealable plastic bag filled with dry balls of newspaper or little packets of charcoal will draw out the offending odours.
If you would prefer to leave the job to the professionals, The Laptop Lab at Back from The Future (www.backfromthefuture.ie) offer a thorough cleaning service for €80. They will not only clean all the external surfaces but take the shell of the laptop apart and clean out all of the internal workings of the computer. This includes the underside of the keyboard, the hard drive, fans and processors, as well as replacing the thermal paste on CPU and GPU which is the glue responsible for keeping your computer's hardware cool. They will also run a check to ensure there are no viruses soiling our software too.