How to Clean a MacBook Screen in 4 Steps, With Photos

Macbook Pro on a desk with a vase and tea cup

How to Clean a MacBook Screen in 4 Steps, With Photos

Key Points

  • Household cleaners like Windex and Clorox wipes can cause serious damage to a MacBook screen due to their potent chemicals.
  • Scrubbers such as sponges and paper towels can physically scratch and damage the screen.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and other cleaning liquids with astringent or corrosive properties can eat away at the plastic and LED elements on the display.
  • To clean a MacBook screen, shut down the laptop, dampen a soft, lint-free cloth, gently wipe the screen, and then dry it with another cloth.
  • If necessary, you can repeat the cleaning process, but avoid using anything stronger than tap water.

If you’re a MacBook user, you’ve probably seen your fair share of fingerprints, smudges, dirt, and grime on your screen. As such, you’re surely well aware of how difficult it is to get these things off your display without causing harm. You don’t want to go scrubbing away at these blemishes with a disinfecting wipe, though. That’s unwise. Luckily, we know of a way to clean a MacBook screen without doing damage. We’ll help you clean your screen with ease, plus offer some advice on what not to use when wiping off your display. Simply follow along with the steps listed below.

What Not to Use to Clean a MacBook Screen

Man using MacBook in brightly lit room.
It’s important not to harm the delicate surface of your MacBook screen.


Before we help you clean your MacBook display, we need to go over the things you should never use to clean your laptop’s screen. These cleaning supplies will cause serious damage to your MacBook that you might not be able to undo. Without the proper precautions, you could render your laptop completely useless if you’re not careful. Here are the three types of cleaning supplies you should never, ever use to clean a MacBook screen.

Household Cleaners

From window cleaners like Windex to disinfectants like Clorox wipes, household cleaners can do real harm to your MacBook. These household cleaning products have potent chemicals in their long lists of ingredients. Your MacBook’s display is very delicate, and such potency can hurt the materials that make up your screen. A laptop isn’t a kitchen counter or dining room table, after all. You must take more care when cleaning your MacBook screen. Avoid putting household cleaners in contact with your MacBook screen at all costs.


Whereas household cleaners can do damage through chemical reactions, scrubbers — such as a sponge or a paper towel — can actually cause physical damage to your screen. Scrubbers like these should only be used to get pesky food waste off of your dishes and pans, not remove dust and grime from your MacBook screen. Scrubbers cause scratches, and scratches cause damage. You should only use soft, lint-free cloths on your screen. Leave the scrubbers for hard surfaces and dish duty instead.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Lastly, avoid putting your MacBook screen in contact with hydrogen peroxide. This chemical will eat away at the plastic and LED elements on the display. (Not to mention the chance of it running down the screen and entering into the hardware itself.) The same goes for bleach, ammonia, and other cleaning liquids with astringent, abrasive, or corrosive properties. The only liquid you truly need on your soft, lint-free cloth is water. Anything stronger, and you’ll run the risk of irreparable damage to your MacBook’s display.

How to Clean a MacBook Screen

Now, let’s review the steps required to clean a MacBook screen. Follow along with the guide below, and you’ll be enjoying a spot-free, shiny laptop display before you know it. We must reiterate: Avoid the temptation to put anything harsher than water on your screen. Likewise, resist the urge to clean the screen with a paper towel, sponge, or other scrubber. The steps listed below should be more than sufficient to clean a MacBook screen to pristine condition.

Step One: Shut Down the MacBook

MacBook Pro screen turned off with laptop open.
Shut down your MacBook before cleaning it.


First, shut down your laptop. This is to make sure you don’t accidentally open any software or perform any unwanted actions on the computer when you clean it. Simply hold down the power button on the keyboard or click “Shut down…” on the Apple menu.

Step Two: Wet a Cloth

Soft, lint-free cloth on table.
Wet a soft, lint-free cloth and wring out excess water.


Next, take your soft, lint-free cloth — such as a microfiber towel or other streak-free cloth — and get it slightly damp. (You don’t want it sopping wet, as this could potentially leak into the internal components of the laptop’s display.) Wring out any excess water before proceeding to the next step.

Step Three: Gently Wipe the Screen

Soft, lint-free cloth on MacBook screen.
Use the cloth to clean the MacBook screen.


Take the cloth and gently wipe the screen. With a good cloth and ample water, you won’t need to apply much pressure at all to start seeing results. If you need to put more water on the cloth and give it another once-over, you can feel free to.

Step Four: Dry Screen

A clean MacBook screen and keyboard powered off.
Your MacBook screen should now be as shiny and spotless as a mirror.


Last, take another soft, lint-free cloth and wipe up any excess moisture or streaks from the screen. You don’t want to leave any of these droplets behind, as that will put us back at square one. Those excess droplets will dry and dirty up the screen all over again.

If you still see smudges or streaks, feel free to head back to step two and repeat through step four as many times as necessary. Once again, do not use anything stronger than this cloth and a little bit of tap water. It’s essential you protect your MacBook screen as you clean it.

Voila! If all has gone according to the steps above, your MacBook screen should look pristine now. If not, some experts say you’re safe to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution for particularly grimy screens with stuck-on smudges. However, we urge you to proceed with caution here. Perhaps test a tiny sliver of the corner of the screen before applying the solution to the entire surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean my MacBook screen?

To clean a MacBook screen, use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth slightly dampened with water. Gently wipe the screen without applying too much pressure. (You don’t want to scratch the screen and cause irreparable damage.) If any dust or fingerprints remain, try again with a different clean microfiber cloth or use a little more water on the cloth. Apple also suggests trying a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution for particularly tricky smudges, but be careful with this.

Can I use household cleaners on a MacBook screen?

When cleaning a MacBook screen, you should steer clear of all household cleaners. This is especially true of those containing harsh chemicals like ammonia or bleach. These substances can erode the screen’s coating, leading to potential damage that can’t be undone. Stick to using water and a microfiber cloth instead. (And it bears repeating: don’t use any scrubbers, either.)

Is it safe to use alcohol on a MacBook screen?

While Apple experts say it’s okay to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution on your MacBook screen, it’s best to avoid using alcohol on the display until you’ve tested a small spot in the corner of the screen first. Alcohol can be quite harsh if not properly diluted, potentially harming the display’s protective coating. Try your hardest to get the smudges up with water before turning to this alcohol solution.

Can I spray water directly onto a MacBook screen?

Never spray any liquids directly onto your MacBook screen. This poses the risk of the water running down the screen and entering the inside of the laptop. Instead, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and wring out any excess liquid before applying it to the screen.

How often should I clean my MacBook screen?

Cleaning your MacBook screen every few weeks is a good practice to prevent any buildup of dirt or grime. This routine schedule will help you better maintain a crystal-clear display. Of course, if you find your screen getting dirtier faster, feel free to give it a once-over more frequently than this suggested timeline.

To top