How to Clean a MacBook Air Screen

The MacBook Air is a very popular laptop, but like any brand used often, it accumulates plenty of grime over time. The screen may take on fingerprints and even smudges from debris on the keyboard. Most of this can be washed off with a soft cloth and water, but isopropyl alcohol is even more effective at treating stubborn smudges. You can also disinfect the screen with wipes to remove germs, but always be careful with the products you use to avoid damaging your MacBook.

Wiping Down the Screen

Shut off and unplug your laptop before cleaning it.

Press the power button on the keyboard to turn off your MacBook Air completely. Then, pull out the power adapter cable and any other accessories plugged into your laptop. Make sure your MacBook isn’t connected to any electrical sources.

  • Test your laptop first. If you shut it down, the screen won’t light up when you press a button. Since you’re applying water to an electronic device, any electrical current present may mean a shock or damage to your MacBook.
  • Always unplug any electronics before you clean them.

Dampen a lint-free cloth with water.

Use only soft or microfiber cloths, since rougher fabrics may leave some unpleasant scratches on your MacBook’s screen. Make sure the cloth isn’t dripping water before you use it. Squeeze it to wring out excess moisture.

  • Always apply the water to the towel. Avoid putting it on your MacBook. The moisture can leak in and cause damage.
  • Never use a paper towel or rag, as these can leave scratches on your screen.

Wipe the screen off from top to bottom.

Starting at the top ensures that you are able to see any water droplets before they are able to get inside your MacBook. Work from corner to corner, wiping across the screen. Go back and forth a few times to eliminate any smudges or debris. Gradually work your way to the bottom.

  • An easy way to do this is to lay your MacBook flat, resting the screen end on a table. This will prevent the hinge from moving as you wipe the screen.
  • If you see water dripping down the screen, dry it off right away.

Use a cloth with soap and water for stubborn stains.

Get a clean microfiber cloth and dampen it with water. Squeeze it out to drain excess moisture. Then, put a tiny amount of dish soap on the cloth, about 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) or less. Rinse the screen off with a damp cloth when you’re finished scrubbing it.

  • Choose a regular liquid dish detergent. Try to avoid harsh cleaners, like those designed to cut grease and tough stains. Harsh cleaners may end up damaging your MacBook’s screen.

Dry the screen off with a microfiber cloth.

Choose a clean, unused cloth and wipe down the entire screen once again. Absorb all of the moisture along the edges of the screen first to prevent them from dripping down into the heart of your MacBook. Finish up the rest of the screen and check it to see how clean it looks.

  • You may need to clean the screen more than once to make it look perfect.

Using Isopropyl Alcohol to Remove Smudges

Unplug your laptop and shut it down.

The isopropyl alcohol can leak into your laptop if you aren’t careful. To be safe, disconnect your MacBook’s power cord, then use the power button to turn it off. Make sure it doesn’t come back on when you touch a button.

Dampen a microfiber cloth with isopropyl alcohol.

You don’t need a lot of the isopropyl alcohol, only about 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) to start. Apply it to the cloth instead of the screen to avoid potential damage. Make sure the cloth isn’t dripping before you use it. If it drips, squeeze out the excess moisture.

  • Isopropyl alcohol is effective at removing fingerprints as well as marks left by the keyboard when you close your MacBook. You can get it at most general retail and drug stores.
  • Applying the alcohol to the cloth instead of the screen helps prevent pixel damage.

Wipe the screen with the dampened cloth.

Move the cloth side to side over the screen. Most of the smudges will come off right away, leaving your screen clear and reflective. Pass the cloth back over the tougher areas to treat them.

  • You may need to wipe down the screen a second time with more isopropyl alcohol before your screen is completely clean.

Rinse off the isopropyl alcohol with water.

Dampen a second microfiber cloth with lukewarm water. Wring out excess moisture before using it on the screen. Then, wipe the cloth in a circular motion around the screen to finish cleaning it.

  • Dry up any water dripping down the screen as soon as you can, so it doesn’t reach the electrical components.

Dry the screen with a clean microfiber cloth.

Finish up with a third cloth. Go over the entire screen, making sure you get all of the water. Then, check your screen to see how reflective it appears.

Disinfecting the Screen

Shut down and unplug your laptop before cleaning it.

Always turn your laptop off to avoid accidents while cleaning. It will protect your MacBook in case any liquids get inside it and end up on the electrical components.

  • Press a button to test your MacBook. If it stays off, then you’re ready to clean it.

Use a disinfectant wipe on the screen.

Check the wipes before using them. Avoid any that have bleach in them, since bleach is abrasive and may damage your MacBook. Also, squeeze the wipe to make sure excess liquid isn’t going to drip into your laptop’s crevices.

  • You do not need to buy specialty wipes. Simply get a regular multipurpose pack from a general store near you. If you want wipes designed for use on MacBook’s or other electronics, you can purchase them online, but they aren’t necessary.
  • Another method is to mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1-part distilled water in a spray bottle. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the solution.

Wash off your laptop with a microfiber cloth dampened in water.

Use only a soft cloth, not a paper towel or anything else that may cause damage to your MacBook. Lightly moisten it so it isn’t dripping. If you see it dripping, wring it out to remove the excess moisture.

  • Make sure you use the cloth to clean off all of the disinfectant.

Dry your laptop off with a clean microfiber cloth.

Remove any remaining moisture. Your MacBook will be clean and sterile. Next time anyone touches it with grimy hands, you can give it a quick wash to keep it in working order.


  • Avoid using bleach cleaners. Apple also recommends avoiding aerosols and disinfecting sprays. Water or isopropyl alcohol is all you need.
  • Avoid scrubbing your MacBook with excessive force. Wipe it gently to avoid damaging it.
  • Ask a professional for help when you need it. This is especially useful for delicate cleaning jobs like the ports. If you can locate Apple employees in your area, they generally will provide this service for free.


  • Improper cleaning may cause damage to your MacBook Air. Always use soft, lint-free or microfiber cloths. Avoid paper towels.
  • Excess moisture can permanently damage your MacBook. Never apply water or other cleaning liquids directly to it,
  • Power down and unplug your laptop before cleaning it to avoid the risk of short-circuiting and fires.

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