So, you want to clean your Chromebook’s screen without damaging it and make it like new again- with no fingerprints, smudges, and stylus prints.
Those Cheetos and Rockstar you had yesterday while playing RuneScape left their signature on your laptop, didn’t they?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
(If you want to clean your entire Chromebook, just out this cleaning guide).
With my 6 years or so of playing with these machines, I’ve certainly come across some (pretty horrific) dirty displays.
Many Chromebooks nowadays are touchscreen compatible, which means they’ll pick up dirt, dust, fingerprints, grease, oil, and smudges easily.
When it’s time to clean them, many people get lost and have no idea how to clean a Chromebook screen properly- without damaging it.
Some common reader questions are:
- Should you use rubbing alcohol? Hydrogen peroxide? Or just plain water?
- How do I clean my Chromebook screen without damaging it?
- Are you supposed to clean it with a microfiber cloth? A paper towel? A tissue wipe? Or a piece of newspaper (because any old-school tech junkie knows that newspaper doesn’t hard water stains)?
This tutorial will answer all those questions and more. So read on and clean up your Chromebook’s display for good and make it like new again!
I tried to organize this by separating the first part into sections about the various cleaners you can use (and make yourself). And the second part about the various materials and cloth you can use to clean with.
Not exactly conventional, but I hope you can get some value out of this- especially if you have no idea where to start with cleaning laptops.
Inspecting your Chromebook’s display
The easiest way to see if your screen is clean or dirty is to shut it off and find a bright light in the background of a dark room. This will make all the dirty show up under the bright light like a spotlight.
Here’s how to do it:
- Shut off your Chromebook so that the screen is off.
- Wait until nighttime or go into a dark room with only one bright light.
- Turn on the light and shine it on the screen.
- Move the Chromebook around using the source of the light as a spotlight for dirt.
Take note of all the dirty areas for cleaning.
This is important because once you power it on, the dirty spots will likely disappear and get flooded out by the light emanating from the screen.
What spray, liquid, or screen cleaner should you use to clean a Chromebook screen?
This section covers some of the most popular solutions to clean your screen.
We’ll go over which ones are the best and which ones you should avoid preventing damage to your Chromebook.
The first option most people use is plain water- straight from the tap.
And the problem with this is that tap water often has minerals in it like calcium and magnesium carbonates. These minerals what leave behind those white streaks and hard buildup over time that you may have seen on your aquarium or shower door.
When you use tap water on your Chromebook’s monitor, it’ll likely just smear the grease on there and also leave behind mineral and calcium deposits over time.
Not to mention it’ll also damage and scratch your screen if you’re not careful and you have hard water. Just imagine a ton of microscopic rocks being smeared across your screen as you wipe. This peels off the anti-glare coating and can leave behind minor scratches if you’re not careful.
The calcium and magnesium carbonate mineral deposits will damage, discolor, and possibly even scratch (visibly) your screen over time. So don’t use tap water to clean your Chromebook’s screen!
Do NOT use tap water to clean your screen under any circumstances if you want to protect it. This is a big no-no.
Distilled water is a good choice for quick cleanup- provided that you’re using an acceptable and 100% clean material to wipe the screen with.
Distilled water is completely pure and has no minerals, so it doesn’t leave behind streaks or contain any minerals either. You just have to be careful of the material you use to wipe the screen with- it has to be clean and free of any buildup or else you might as well be just using tap water!
The only drawback with using distilled water is that it’s too pure- there’s nothing in it to actually clean the screen. It doesn’t work well for oil, grease, or smudges but rather just spreads it around your screen.
For fingerprints and dust, distiller water works fine. It’s good for a quick screen cleanup but nothing too intensive.
Extremely dirty screen with visible dirt or grease marks won’t really be cleaned with distilled water. You’ll just blotch the dirt and grease all over the display (or spread it to a very thin layer that shows up under bright lights).
Windex and related sprays
This may be obvious, but you should never use Windex or other similar window cleaners on your Chromebook.
This stuff is harsh and will tear and break down the protective coating and even may damage your monitor by eating away the material until you get visible “blobs” or “lighter areas” all over your screen.
Don’t use window cleaner, Windex, Simple Green, alcohol-based solvents, or anything of the sort on your Chromebook. Ever.
Bottom line: NEVER use harsh window/surface cleaners on your Chromebook!
Vinegar can work excellently as a screen cleaner, but you need to make sure you get the diluted, pure, and white vinegar type. Any other vinegar may damage your screen.
You can purchase white vinegar at any grocery store. Check the ingredients and make sure it’s just pure white vinegar with no additives.
After you get the vinegar, you can make your own DIY screen cleaner for your Chromebook using this simple recipe:
- Get 100% pure white vinegar.
- Get distilled water.
- Mix the vinegar and distilled water in a 75:25 ratio. That means for every 3 parts distilled water, and 1 part white vinegar.
- Dump the solution into a spray bottle.
- Shake vigorously.
You’ve just made your own screen cleaner at home. Congrats. Use it liberally on your Chromebook screen and clean off those nasty smudges!
Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
Rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol) is probably the best DIY screen cleaner for Chromebooks you can possibly make. The stuff is available at any drug store and will make you enough cleaner to last you a year for less than $2.
All you need to do is pick up some 70% rubbing alcohol and a gallon of distilled water. Both of these items should cost just about $1 depending on where you live.
Get both and this will last you a long, long time. Be sure to get a small spray bottle if you don’t already have one.
After you get the ingredients, here’s how to make your own cheap screen cleaner at home:
Step 1: Mix the 70% rubbing alcohol with distilled water in a 1:1 ratio. That’s one part alcohol for one part water.
Step 2: Pour into a spray bottle.
You now have a DIY screen cleaner for your Chromebook’s LCD/LED screen that’ll take off bacteria, smudges, fingerprints, and grease without leaving any streaks!
Rubbing alcohol is commonly used for cuts because of the antiseptic properties, which means that it’ll kill bacteria on your screen upon contact.
To use it, just spray once onto your screen and use your material of choice to clean it. Wipe it gently in horizontal motions until the smudge or dirt is gone. You can spray this stuff as much as you want and it shouldn’t damage your Chromebook’s screen at all.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the process of cleaning with rubbing alcohol:
Hydrogen peroxide is another solution commonly used for cleaning.
I wouldn’t use this stuff since isopropyl alcohol is better than hydrogen peroxide for cleaning screens. Peroxide may damage the screen because it’s stronger and will also leave streaks more easily in my experience.
But isopropyl alcohol will evaporate itself and any water present immediately, so it doesn’t leave any streaks behind (given that your cloth or material is clean).
Another important fact is that isopropyl alcohol won’t conduct electricity. So if you accidentally spill some on your laptop’s keyboard, touchpad, or even in the screen crevices (the bezels around the screen), it won’t short or malfunction your Chromebook- in terms of electrical conductivity, that is.
(Not that I recommend you go haphazard and spill the stuff.)
This is why I prefer rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for cleaning screens, let alone computers, laptops, gadgets, and Chromebooks in general.
Commercial screen cleaners
Any electronics store will sell screen cleaners advertising different features like “streak free” or “cleans in a single wipe.”
Know that it really doesn’t matter and they should all work the same. Just get the one that looks most appealing to you and use it. There’s no real need to do comparison shopping- especially when you can make your own screen cleaner for less than $2.
If you’re too lazy, you can always just order a bottle online. I’ve had good success with WHOOSH! screen cleaner. It’s cheap, easy to apply, doesn’t damage the screen, and just works like you’d expect a screen cleaner to work.
What material should you use to clean a Chromebook screen?
Now that we’ve covered some of the screen cleaners, let’s go over the actual materials you can use to clean your screen. This will finally decipher all those different cleaning materials out there and help you pick the best one!
Believe it or not, lots of people use toilet paper as a wipe to clean their screen.
I mean, this stuff cleans you pretty well), so why not use it to clean your monitor? It’s widely available, cheap, and convenient. And everyone has a roll. So it’s perfect to use with a solution mentioned above to wipe up your screen, right?
Well, guess again.
Toilet paper is terrible for cleaning screens. The stuff will easily break apart (assuming you get the cheap brand as I do) as soon as you start wiping the screen after spraying it down. The bits and pieces of paper break apart and leave an annoying mess to clean up after you’re done cleaning the screen (assuming the toilet paper holds).
Don’t use this unless you’re going to bunch up into a blob to wipe your screen. It’s more annoying than convenient. Not recommended for cleaning. At all.
Any tech junkie (or car unkie) will know that the newspaper has been used for many decades because it doesn’t leave any streaks after wiping something down.
I wouldn’t recommend this for your monitor either unless you have no choice. The ink won’t damage your screen nor smear off onto it, so don’t worry about that. If you have nothing else available and you don’t want to leave streaks all over your display, you can use a nice fold of newspaper as a wipe.
You can also get this stuff for free. Look around your local grocery stores and many of them will have “take one” pamphlets or magazines that are free near the entrance vestibules. Grab one without any color (black and white) and you’re good to go. This will easily clean the screen without smears and streaks- and it’s free!
Microfiber cloth (the best screen cleaner – ever)
This is what most tech enthusiasts will recommend for any type of electronic cleaning.
Microfiber cloth consists have thousands (or even millions) of tiny fibers, hence the name microfiber. Each fiber is very “sticky” to dust, particles, and even bacteria. Each fiber will “stick” to anything it comes in contact with due to the many fibers working together to form a surface that’s adhesive.
You can even feel it against your skin when you handle the cloth!
Microfiber can pick up over 98% of bacteria, dust, dirt, and germs off of a surface with just a single wipe and no solution used. That’s pretty amazing.
The best part is that it won’t scratch your electronics- in this case, your laptop screen.
Wiping the cloth across your display won’t do anything to the component, but will pick up all the nasty particles, fingerprints, and smudges across your screen. It works especially well for dry particles, like dust.
Fingerprints or other greasy/oily stains will require a dab of screen cleaner (you can find a recipe for DIY screen cleaner above) but will remove easily with just a swipe or two.
Never use the same spot on the same cloth twice
Be sure to wash the cloth after every cleaning because it’ll pick up dirt and dust like a sponge. If you use the same cloth over and over, you may end up scratching your display because you’re basically using a form of sandpaper.
Although the cloth is safe, the particles it picks up aren’t.
So be sure to wash it and dry it out each time. Microfiber cloth is reusable, cheap, widely available, and makes a killer combo with screen cleaner solutions.
Microfiber types and “grades”
Because of the rising popularity, there are thousands of brands and “types” of cloth.
You can get different fiber counts, chemical-infused cloths for extra strength, sizes, thickness, and various materials (polyester, polypropylene, nylon, Kevlar, Nomex, trogamid, and polyamide).
They’re used from anything and everything from electronics, glasses, cars, general cleaning, and more.
Stick with the cheap ones
For Chromebooks, I’d suggest keeping it simple.
Buy in bulk so you always have a cloth handy. And get a larger size so you can use one cloth to clean your whole Chromebook by using different parts of the same cloth.
You can clean the screen, keyboard, bottom panel, touchpad, screen protector, and lid. You can pick up a pack of microfiber cloths from Amazon here or if you want a “premium” solution, you can check out the MagicFiber cloths.
Commercial screen cleaning cloths
This is often just repackaged microfiber cloth. I’ve never seen anything special and it’s mainly just overpriced microfiber that you can get for cheap. Expensive electronic cleaners aren’t worth it.
They’re just varying grades of microfiber cloth that you can get for much cheaper. I wouldn’t fall for this unless you have no choice or you want a pack that includes everything you need in one package.
This often includes the spray, cloth, and sometimes some other extras that are unnecessary to clean your screen.
But hey, some people like the convenience and I’m not here to judge.
If you like getting everything you need in a simple package, go for it and buy it.
If you really want a suggestion, I’d just go with this cleaning kit. It’s cheap and works just fine. It comes with a “premium cleaning cloth” but again, that’s just the sales pitch.
You can get it online or just go to your local electronics store and buy whatever grand. Generic works fine for this case.
Commercial cleaning wipes
These are another example of repackaging in action.
These are basically microfiber cloths with the spray already applied. they save you a step because you don’t have to deal with spraying the screen and you can wipe the dirt, germs, bacteria, grease, or smudges off easily. I would only consider these if you need the portability.
I just buy a pack of Endust wipes in bulk and store them in places I frequent. You can check them on Amazon if you’re interested or need the portable cleaning solution.
Since the Chromebook is a laptop, a lot of people bring it with them everywhere they go. Screen cleaning wipes are easily portable alongside the laptop, so they are convenient in that matter.
I always carry a pack of three that I bring with me when I travel for short trips. Pretty handy for quick cleaning on-the-go.
How to clean your Chromebook’s screen
So now that we’ve covered some of the various solutions you can use to spray on your screen and some of the various materials you can use to wipe your screen, let’s cover some cleaning techniques.
I’d suggest using rubbing alcohol with distilled water and a microfiber cloth.
To clean a smudge, simply spray the cloth once or twice and press firmly on the screen.
Rub the cloth in a circular motion until the screen is clean. Use the method above to detecting smudges to confirm that your Chromebook is now smudge-free.
This is the last time I’m ever eating hot wings while trying to play RuneScape again.
Fingerprints are very easy to clean. Often you don’t need any solution or spray to get them off. Just wipe it with a microfiber cloth firmly with light pressure and it should come off. If it smears, use some screen cleaner.
If you have a touchscreen Chromebook, the screen will get dirty fast. I suggest looking into getting a screen protector so you don’t damage it over time by constant cleaning (and to protect it from wear and tear).
Cleaning oil, stains, and grease
These are often the worse type of dirt to clean. Oil will smear and grease will smudge. Stains vary. Those Hot Cheeto stains aren’t gonna clean themselves.
I’d suggest using a few sprays of screen cleaner directly on the screen and wipe in a circular motion to make sure you get all the dirt.
After that, wipe it up with a cloth. Use more pressure and solution for stubborn stains.
You may find yourself smearing it across the screen. If this is the case, keep cleaning until the dirt is gone. Use different parts of the cloth- never the same part twice!
Drinking sticky liquids and beverages will leave a sticky mess on your screen.
The easiest way to tackle this is to get a large microfiber cloth and spray a nice amount of isopropyl alcohol directly on the screen. Let it sit for a few seconds.
Then Wipe it off with firm pressure. This may take several applications before the energy drink you had last comes off. But when you’re done, it should be good as new.
Glue, sticky adhesives, gum, food, and other residues
If you’ve accidentally got some glue or other sticky residues on your screen, you’ll have to perform some serious cleaning on your Chromebook to restore it.
I’d start with using the simple approach of just basic cleaner. Use rubbing alcohol, then try hydrogen peroxide. The trick is to let them soak long enough to break down the residue and then wipe it off using a microfiber or newspaper.
Lay your Chromebook flat
You’ll want to lay your Chromebook flat and open the lid all the way so it’s 180 degrees with a flat surface. When you pour the solution on the screen to let it sit, make sure it doesn’t slowly move towards the edges or else it may get into the bezels and cause permanent pixel damage.
The last thing you want is a screen with pixelated, horizontal or vertical black lines going across it rather than a smudge on the display. So be careful when letting the peroxide or alcohol on it and do its cleaning.
Apply pressure for stubborn stains
If the residue doesn’t come off, one trick you can try is wrapping a microfiber towel around your index finger and then “scratching” the residue off.
This will prevent your finger from scratching the screen while picking away at the stickiness bit by bit. It takes a long time and works better if the residue has been soaking in a solution for a while, but I’ve had some awesome success with this technique.
The proper way to wipe
I just thought I’d put this section on this guide just for completion’s sake.
When you finally get your cleaning solution of choice and your material to clean with, you should practice proper wiping procedure (ahem) to get the most out of your cleaning and not damage your Chromebook.
Wipe with gentle circular motions
The proper way to do it is to wipe in circular motions like you’re buffing a car (for those with experience).
Only when the stain is stubborn should you use more force, but the proper way to do is it to just use gentle, circular scrubbing until the stain, residue, or otherwise dirt is removed from the screen.
Don’t push too hard, and start gently with the cloth or material barely touching the screen. Then use more force as necessary if the stain doesn’t come off.
Moving across the screen
As you wipe with a circular motion, you can move from stain to stain or just across the screen in a snaking pattern until you clean the whole thing.
This ensures an even and level clean rather than spotting. If you jump from stain to stain, there may be spotting because some areas are clean and others are slightly dirty. This may be annoying when watching movies because it’ll really show up.
So when you wipe, you can “buff” your Chromebook across the screen as you clean. This way the whole display gets cleaned evenly and everything’s the same level of cleanliness. Is this too much for cleaning yet? Probably.
How to get rid of stubborn stains
Just increase your force and pressure as you wipe in a continuous circular motion. When you get to the point where you start to see your pixels warp (that thing that happens when you push on an LCD screen and see “waves”), that’s when you’re starting to damage the display. Stop and consider your options to remove stubborn buildup on your laptop.
You can use either one to get rid of stubborn stains on your Chromebook:
- A stronger screen cleaner
- A coarser material (such as microfiber with more fibers) – NOT something crazy like a wire sponge
Did you make your Chromebook screen clean like new (once again)?
Well, that’s about it.
I hope this guide helped you learn a bit more about cleaning agents and what type of material to use to clean your laptop without damaging it.
This is based on my few years of experience with Chromebooks and laptops in general, and I’m sure that many enthusiasts already know this stuff already. I wrote this more for the beginner to the practice, so hopefully, it helped someone out!
If you have any tips and tricks to cleaning or keeping your Chromebook clean, post them in the comments below!
If you like what you read, I have a tutorial on cleaning your entire Chromebook you may want to see.
And if you’ve found this guide helpful, let me know as well. Consider telling a friend =]!
Thanks for reading!