4 Things You Should Do to Maintain Your Laptop

By Dan Gookin

As with all things in the computer universe, there are two sides to laptop maintenance: hardware and software. The good news is that nothing will ever leak out of your laptop, nor will your laptop ever emit an odor strong enough to require the use of an air freshener.

Maintaining the storage system

Disk maintenance was once a common activity, with nerds bantering back and forth about which utilities to use and how often to run them. All that talk is idle now. That’s because Windows automatically handles all storage maintenance chores. These tasks include running disk tune-up and defragmentation programs. As long as you haven’t disabled any of these activities, consider your laptop’s storage system to be adequately maintained.

  • One common storage maintenance task that’s not automated is backup.

  • Unlike an automobile, you have no reason to take your laptop into the dealer or a repair place for regular check-ups. Shun anyone who offers you such a program, which is often called a maintenance contract by some dealers. Your laptop doesn’t need it, and you don’t need to pay for it.

Keeping it clean

Laptops are robust beasts. They can go through a lot without cleaning.

After you’ve been out and about with your laptop a few times, you should do some minor clean-up. Look at those fingerprints! Yikes! If only your mother could see it.

The best way to clean a laptop is with a soft cloth. Use a non-abrasive cleaner like 409 or Fantastic. Spray the cleaner on the cloth, and then wipe down everything on the laptop except for the screen. A damp sponge also works best for cleaning a laptop. Be gentle as you wipe, and try not to get any moisture inside the laptop.

  • Consider washing your hands from time to time.

  • Turn off the laptop before you start cleaning it.

  • You might also want to use cotton swabs to clean some of the gunk from the cracks.

  • Do not clean inside any openings. Never spray any liquids into those openings, either.

  • If your laptop manufacturer has any specific cleaning instructions, directions, or warnings, please refer to them first before following the information offered here.

Grooming the keyboard

Every so often, you may want to vacuum your laptop keyboard. You can use the little portable vacuums, with either the tiny (toothbrush-size) brush or the upholstery-cleaning attachment. This effectively sucks up all the crud in the keyboard. It’s amazing to watch.

Some people prefer to clean the keyboard by using a can of compressed air. This method isn’t recommended, because the air can blow the crud in your keyboard farther inside the laptop. Instead, use a vacuum.

Cleansing the screen

To keep the screen clean, use a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe away the dust and sneeze globs. If you need more power to clean the screen, use a liquid specifically designed for laptop screens — especially for a tablet PC (with a touchscreen). Using the wrong cleaner can damage the screen, rending its touch-powers useless or even making the screen difficult to see.

Let the monitor dry completely before closing the lid!

  • Oftentimes, the keyboard creates a shadow stain on the screen. It’s difficult to avoid and impossible to clean off. To help prevent the stain, place a soft, lint-free cloth — like one you’d use to clean the monitor inside the laptop — between the keyboard and screen when the laptop is closed.

  • Office supply stores carry special LCD screen cleaners as well as the lint-free wipes you can use to clean your screen and the rest of your laptop.

  • One great product you might want to try is Klear Screen, from Meridrew Enterprises. No, it’s not cheap. You want good, not cheap.

  • Avoid using alcohol- or ammonia-based cleaners on your laptop screen! They can damage the LCD screen. Worse, they can render that expensive touchscreen monitor useless.

  • Never squirt any cleaner directly on a laptop’s screen.