Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesRelated ArticlesLaptops are an increasingly preferred method of computing for many, replacing the tried-and-true desktop as the primary work device. Apple users are no different in this regard but, like every other piece of electronics that is constantly handled, MacBooks get grungy. Keyboards, trackpads and screens become repositories for finger oils, food and other nasties that are part and parcel of using a device full time. Cleaning these laptops is not difficult, but use the right materials to avoid damage.
1Preparation: Apple recommends that you unplug the MacBook and remove any ancillary devices plugged into it. This includes mice, monitors, printers and external hard drives. The recommendation even goes as far as informing you to remove the battery if your Mac if a model that has a removable battery. Shut down the machine. Wash your hands and prepare a clean workspace, free of liquids like coffee that risk spilling into sensitive components such as the keyboard or air vents.
2Gather Your Materials: Paper towels are great for cleaning messes on kitchen sinks but are notorious for making fine scratches on plastic. On older MacBooks featuring plastic surfaces, avoid using these or napkins. Bathroom or facial tissues might be soft enough but are often impregnated with lotions or other softening agents that leave a residue -- in addition to having a tendency to shred. Use a clean, new microfiber cloth for cleaning and polishing. Monster Cable's ScreenClean solution is good for cleaning every surface of your MacBook. Do not use anything with ammonia or a high percentage or alcohol content like acetone on any surface. Grab a can of compressed air and a small keyboard brush if you have extra crumbs or dust you want to get out of various nooks and crannies. If it's the cold and flu season, disinfecting wipes are a good option for the surfaces you touch -- but inspect the ingredients for bleach or high percentages of alcohol first. Apple recommends no more than 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for use on its devices, whether straight from the bottle or incorporated into other cleaning solutions.
3Getting Underway: Start by blowing loose contaminants from the keyboard with the compressed air can. Use your keyboard brush to whisk away stubborn debris. Don't invert the can, or you'll start blowing water at the computer. Try to brush away dust that's accumulated on and around air vents rather than using the compressed air to avoid blowing the dust into the MacBook itself. Spray your electronics cleaner of choice directly onto the microfiber cloth -- rather than directly on the machine -- and wipe away fingerprints and remnants from that burrito you had for lunch the other day. When cleaning the screen, make sure you're using a clean section of the microfiber cloth, wiping in straight lines from the edges in. Avoid using a swirling motion, since if there is anything tiny on the cloth or screen that might cause fine scratches, the visibility of the damage will be more apparent in circular patterns.
4Dealing With Spills: Part of cleaning any electronic device is mitigating damage from things that spill. MacBooks and other laptops are with us for much of the workday, including conference rooms, our desks and at impromptu meeting spots like coffee shops. Should you spill something into the keyboard, it's important to remain levelheaded and move quickly to avoid lasting damage. Immediately shut down and invert the device, letting as much liquid run out as possible. While the unit is inverted, gently dab any surface moisture that might be present. If you can, fill a plastic or cardboard storage container with rice and immerse the piece for 24 to 48 hours.