Complete guide to cleaning your Chromebook – make it new again

By | 08/06/2016

Cleaning your Chromebook isn’t as difficult as you’d think it is. It’s easy. Seriously.


You may be confused about what cleaner to use, or what cloth to use, or how to clean the screen, or how to clean the USB ports, or how to clean underneath the keys, or just how to go about cleaning your Chromebook.

I’ll show you how to clean it in a straightforward and easy to understand way.

This guide covers the most basic cleaning techniques all the way to advanced methods. It covers everything from just cleaning the Chromebook laptop keyboard, trackpad, and body, all the way up to cleaning the Chromebook’s screen, under the keys, and even the power and USB ports. All of it.

This is a complete guide to cleaning your Chromebook laptop, and I know that you may not want to do a full cleaning. Feel free to skip around and clean just the part that you need. But be sure to read the preparations.

If you decide to do a complete cleaning, I suggest you follow the steps in order. Make sure you clean the Chromebook’s screen last, because it’ll get dirty from all the other steps.

Anyway, let’s get cleaning.


Getting ready to clean your Chromebook laptop

This button. Press it and hold it to shut off your Chromebook to prepare for cleaning.

This button. Press it and hold it to shut off your Chromebook to prepare for cleaning.

Warnings: No matter what part of the Chromebook you’re cleaning, make sure you follow these prerequisite instructions.

This entire guide is written for Chromebooks specifically, but may also work on Windows or Mac laptops as well. If you don’t own a Chromebook and you’re using this guide, please take caution and know what you’re doing so you don’t damage your laptop.

If you’re using one of these laptops, you may want to switch to a Chromebook. I know, that’s probably not what you came here for, but you may want to check it out regardless. It just may be the best decision you’ve made about computers. I wrote an article about my personal experience with Chromebooks and another article about the benefits of Chromebooks over Windows computers. Both of these articles are based on factual data and personal opinion- a slight mix of the two. Check ’em out.

Even though all Chromebook models are pretty similar in build, there are always exceptions. Some of these instructions may not apply to your specific Chromebook model, so exercise caution.

Did you get all that? Good. Let’s move forward to the next step on getting your Chromebook like new.

Preparations:

Step 1: Power down the Chromebook. Turn it off completely by holding down the power button in the top right corner. Don’t set it to sleep or hibernate. Shut it off completely and make sure it’s off.

Step 2: Remove any connected peripherals attached to the Chromebook. This includes USB devices, such as a mouse, keyboard, USB drive, external hard drive, power cable, etc. Make sure there is nothing still connected to your laptop.

Step 3: If your Chromebook has a removable battery, go ahead and carefully remove it. Most Chromebook models don’t have a battery that can easily be removed, so you can skip this step if not. If you remove it, make sure you do it properly. There’s a specific process and it’s different for every model, so don’t go pulling it out. And be careful of electricity. Take precaution.

Cleaning your Chromebook’s keyboard

Cleaning your Chromebook's keyboard is probably a wise idea as it gets the most traffic from debris from your fingers.

Cleaning your Chromebook’s keyboard is probably a wise idea as it gets the most traffic from debris from your fingers.

Let’s start with cleaning the keyboard, as this area gets the most traffic and dirt from your fingers.

You’ll need the following items:

  • A blunt knife- such as a butter knife (a screwdriver works too)
  • Compressed air
  • Isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol)
  • A microfiber cloth or semi-abrasive cloth, depending on how dirty your keys are

Step 1: Use a dab of isopropyl alcohol on a semi-abrasive cloth if your keys are noticeably dirty. If not, then use a microfiber cloth as it’s much less abrasive and safer for your keys (you don’t want to scratch the paint off your keys).

Isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) is cheap and can be found in any convenience store.

Isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) is cheap and can be found in any convenience store.

Step 2: Use the cloth of your choice and slowly, but firmly go over your keys in a circular motion per each key. Use a firmer motion on dirty keys. The dirty should slowly come off. Gather the dirty bits and take them off of the keyboard. If they fall into the cracks between the keys, that’s fine for now.

Apply more isopropyl alcohol as needed. Try to remember which keys have debris that fell between them.

Step 3: After all the keys are cleaned, let it sit until completely dry.

Next, we’ll clean underneath the keys. You can skip this step if you feel that your Chromebook’s keyboard is clean.

Step 1: Use the blunt blade or screwdriver and carefully stick it under each key you think there’s debris hiding under. You can tell which keys are dirtier than other by simply looking between the cracks, or from your cloth cleaning above. Typically, the keys that were dirtiest will have debris under them as well, or the keys that you saw debris fall into when you were wiping them.

Any blunt blade will easily pry off the keys of your Chromebook for cleaning.

Any blunt blade will easily pry off the keys of your Chromebook for cleaning.

Step 2: Pry out the keys carefully and store them somewhere safe. Do this by inserting the blade tip at an angle and then “scooping” out the key. You may have to practice a bit to get it right, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. Be careful not to insert the blade too deeply, or else you may damage the chip below the keyboard.

The keys will pop out as you pry them, so be careful.

Step 3: Use the compressed air and gently spray where the keys used to sit. Don’t hold the can upside-down. Instead, tilt it and spray it. You can also try tilting your Chromebook as well to get the debris out.

Canned air is readily available from any electronics store and works wonders cleaning your Chromebook's keyboard and other crevices.

Canned air is readily available from any electronics store and works wonders cleaning your Chromebook’s keyboard and other crevices.

Step 4: Place the keys back onto the keyboard. The keys should snap back into place. Don’t force it. If it doesn’t snap, you could be placing it incorrectly. Try adjusting your angle to where you push directly down.

Step 5: Clean up. Store the isopropyl alcohol and compressed air as directed by the manufacturer.

Cleaning your Chromebook’s trackpad

The trackpad of your Chromebook will get dirty and littered with debris, just like the keyboard. It's easy to clean with isopropyl alcohol.

The trackpad of your Chromebook will get dirty and littered with debris, just like the keyboard. It’s easy to clean with isopropyl alcohol.

Cleaning the touchpad, or trackpad, is pretty easy and straightforward. It’s probably the second-most dirtiest part of the Chromebook, right behind the keyboard. But, that depends on your browsing habits and what you use your Chromebook for. If you’re a productive task-doer, you’ll probably have a dirtier keyboard. If you’re a video-watcher, you’ll probably have a dirty trackpad. But alas, let’s get that trackpad clean and new.

You’ll need the following items:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A semi-abrasive cloth or microfiber cloth, depending on how dirty your trackpad is

Step 1: Dab the cloth into isopropyl alcohol. Depending on the debris on your trackpad, you’ll want to choose the proper cloth for cleaning. A rougher cloth will clean tougher debris.

Step 2: Wipe gently, but firmly in a circular motion along with surface of your trackpad. It should “click” as if you’re clicking it while you wipe so you know you’re firm enough. Use more isopropyl alcohol as needed.

Step 3: Let it air dry. No need to wipe. The solution will evaporate by itself and leave no residue, unless your keys were extremely dirty. If so, go ahead and wipe. Store isopropyl alcohol as directed by manufacturer.

 

Cleaning your Chromebook’s USB, power, headphone, and other ports

Your Chromebook's ports will gather dust and debris, but can be cleaned easily with canned air and a damp cloth.

Your Chromebook’s ports will gather dust and debris, but can be cleaned easily with canned air and a damp cloth.

The ports get dirty and collect dust and debris due to the heat generated from your Chromebook. The dust gets sucked in like a magnet. Although the dust won’t really harm your Chromebook nor alter the performance, it still extremely annoying to us clean freaks- and I’m one of them. Thankfully, cleaning the dust out of the ports (USB, power, headphones, SD cards, Kensington lock, other locks) is easy.

Things you’ll need:

  • Compressed air
  • A soft cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Step 1: Use the isopropyl alcohol on the cloth. A microfiber or other non-abrasive cloth will work fine. Just use a dab so it’s nice and damp.

Step 2: Spray the port with the air. Dust and debris may come flying out. Let the big chunks fly out. The small and fine particles will stick to the Chromebook or surface of the port.

Step 3: Use the damp cloth and wipe the port after you spray it with the compressed air. This will pick up any loose particles hanging on the edge of the port. Don’t stick the cloth into the port. The moisture can damage the port.

Step 4: Let the ports air dry. Don’t use them or insert anything until it’s completely dried. You don’t need to wipe them out- the solution will evaporate by itself. Store the isopropyl alcohol and air as directed by the manufacturer.

Cleaning your Chromebook’s lid and body

The body of the Chromebook is the most noticeable, especially the lid. Keep it clean with regular cleanings.

The body of the Chromebook is the most noticeable, especially the lid. Keep it clean with regular cleanings.

After moving your Chromebook around for the mobility, it gets dirty. Not to mention, you probably don’t always have clean hands to carry it around. Cleaning up the dark spots is easy.

Things you’ll need:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A soft cloth (microfiber works)

Step 1: Dab the cloth into the isopropyl alcohol. Just use a moderate amount. If it’s dripping, let it drip until it stops before you start cleaning. Too much isopropyl alcohol can damage the laptop if it gets into the frame.

Step 2: Wipe the exterior of the Chromebook. You can safely wipe the lid, bezel, and body with no worry, as the isopropyl alcohol won’t damage the finish of your Chromebook. It may spread the debris around if it’s that dirty. If so, apply more isopropyl alcohol and wipe with a clean part of the cloth. Repeat as needed.

Step 3: Let the Chromebook air dry. You don’t need to wipe it down or anything. It’ll evaporate and leave no residue, unless the residue is dirt or debris. Store the isopropyl alcohol as directed.

Cleaning your Chromebook’s screen

You’ll need a special cleaning solution to clean your Chromebook’s screen. You can get this stuff at any retailer that carries laptops or computers. Make sure it’s safe for screens and that’s the sole purpose of the cleaner. All-in-one solutions generic cleaners may not be safe for your display and may leave streaks or damage it. Get something that’s dedicated to cleaning monitors and screens.

Cleaning kits come with everything you need to make your Chromebook's screen clean and like new.

Cleaning kits come with everything you need to make your Chromebook’s screen clean and like new.

Some products are designed just for this purpose and will clean your device without harming it. I’ve used several dozen cleaning kits on my electronics (and not only on my Chromebook). Here are my go-to cleaners:

Tech Armor Complete Cleaning Kit (gel screen cleaner + microfiber cloths + hardware spray)

Belkin Screen Cleaner Spray Kit (spray + microfiber cloth)

UsefulThingy Screen Cleaner Kit (spray + microfiber cloth)

Bryson Screen Cleaner Kit (spray + microfiber cloth)

If you have any good kits, let me know in the comments.

 

For this part, you’ll have to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Use a microfiber cloth and apply the solution as directed. Clean as directed.

You should do this step last, as the screen is the most visible part you’ll be starting at when using your Chromebook. If you do this step first, you’ll probably get debris all over it from the other steps.

Don’t use normal soap or isopropyl alcohol to clean your Chromebook’s’ screen. It’ll likely leave streaks or damage it. Also, don’t use water. It’ll probably just spread the dirt around and leave streaks when it dries. 

If you’re on a budget (or you’re handy0, you can make your own screen cleaner solution. You can make it with basic household chemicals and a microfiber cloth.

Here’s a quick video with all the ingredients you’ll need to make a screen cleaner as good as the store-bought variety:

Is your Chromebook clean yet?

Well, there you have it. A complete guide to cleaning up your Chromebook. If this guide has helped you, please consider sharing it to another avid Chromebook fan.

Got any cleaning tips? Share them in the comments and let’s clean up.


About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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2 comments on "Complete guide to cleaning your Chromebook – make it new again"

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Rohan Samal
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I see a lot of dust/ debris underneath the trackpad. Im sort of worried on it right now. Could you explain how to remove the trackpad and clean the region underneath it

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