How to clean a MacBook screen and get rid of smudges

MacBook Pro 16-inch 2021 sitting on a patio table
(Image credit: Future)

Once you know how to clean a MacBook screen, you won’t know why you put it off for so long. If you have one of the best MacBooks, smudges and fingerprints will inevitably build-up on the display until it ruins your visibility. So many of us delay cleaning it though, with some worried about damaging the screen, and others just generally forgetting to do it.  

However, cleaning a MacBook screen — or any computer screen — is actually very quick and easy to do. All it takes is a few household items which you might already have in hand. Here, we will take you through what to use and what to do step-by-step.

How to clean a MacBook screen  

What you'll need

Soft, lint-free microfiber cloths


70-percent isopropyl alcohol solution (optional)

According to Apple, the following method can be used on any type of MacBook screen, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It’s also safe to use on the iMac, Mac Pro and Mac Mini display. However, if your iMac has a nano-texture glass display, skip to the final section. 

1. First of all, shut down and switch off your MacBook — make sure it’s not plugged into the wall either, for safety. 

2. Next, wipe away any immediate dust using a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth. If your Mac came with a cloth, use that, but if not, we recommend the MR.SIGA Microfiber Cleaning Cloth ($12.99, Amazon). Don’t use anything else — paper towels can even scratch the surface, so make sure you stick to microfiber.   

The screen of a MacBook being wiped with a microfiber cloth

(Image credit: Future)

3. If smudges persist, you can dampen another soft microfiber cloth with water and gently wipe the screen in a side-to-side motion. Make sure you don’t scrub, as this could damage the display, and only ever apply water to the cloth — not directly to the screen. The cloth should only be damp, not sodden, and avoid getting moisture into any of the openings. 

4. If stubborn marks remain, you can also apply a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution to the cloth and then wipe the marks away with that. Again, never spray anything directly onto the screen itself. Alternatively, you can use wipes which contain the same solution. Apple suggests using Clorox Disinfecting Wipes ($11.49, Amazon). 

5. Leave to dry completely.  

The screen of a MacBook being cleaned with a disinfecting wipe

(Image credit: Future)

And that’s it. Your MacBook’s screen should be looking like new again! The same method can also be used to clean other laptop displays, although only use water to clean those — no wipes or IPA solution. You can also gently buff out any streaks and speed-up the drying process using a dry microfiber cloth.   

How to clean the rest of your MacBook 

If you want to clean the rest of your Macbook or iMac, it’s a very similar method:

1. Make sure it’s shut down and unplugged

2. Use a dry lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe away immediate dust from the exterior, including the keyboard. 

A MacBook keyboard being cleaned with a microfiber cloth

(Image credit: Future)

3. If it needs a more thorough clean, you can dampen the cloth with water, just like above, but be sure not to get any moisture into the openings. Also make sure you don’t spray any liquids directly onto your MacBook.  

4. If you want to sanitize your MacBook, or water just hasn’t done the trick, you can also use 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes, 75 percent ethyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. These can be applied to the hard, nonporous surfaces including the keyboard. Just be sure to keep the moisture away from the openings once again. 

How to clean nano-texture glass 

To clean this kind of display, you should only use the cloth supplied with your iMac or Pro Display XDR. No other type of cloth should be used on nano-texture glass, according to Apple. Replacements are available if you’ve lost yours ($19, Apple).

If smudges persist, you can dampen this cloth with a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol (IPA) solution and then wipe the marks away. 

If your iPhone is blocked up with dust and pocket lint, be sure to check out our guides on how to clean an iPhone's charging port and how to clean an iPhone's speakers.

Can I use Windex on my Macbook screen?

Apple specifically advises not to use window cleaners to clean its displays. It also advises against using household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide here as well. Any of the above could cause irreparable damage, due to the abrasiveness of the cleaner. 

Only a suitable, recommended cleaner should be used on your display, such as the ones we mention in our step-by-step guidance. Once you have this to hand, Apple reminds you to never apply it to the screen directly, as it could drip through the display and lead to more damage. 

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.