How To Clean Your Mac Inside And Out

7 min read

What’s the easiest way to keep your laptop running in tip-top shape? Keep it clean, of course! It doesn’t matter how old your Mac is, a clean Mac will always outlast its newer cluttered counterpart.

If you've been wondering how to clean up MacBook Pro or other Macs, there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind to help your Apple devices have a long and fruitful life. Let's break the cleaning process down step by step. 

How To Clean Up Your Mac

Macs can be a cesspool of grime, dust, and germs throughout their lifespan. Most of us clean them only when we want to sell them. But even if you aren’t considering putting your Mac on the market, keeping your Mac’s body, keyboard, and screen clean and free of debris will help you substantially increase its lifespan.

A great way to maintain a clean MacBook is to schedule regular tidying-up sessions where you can show it some tender love and care. Explanations below will teach you how to keep both the external parts of your Mac and your internal hard drive and desktop clean and clear.

How to clean MacBook keyboard

Even though your keyboard may appear clean at first glance, bacteria can still fester on the keys as well as inside. Don’t worry though, to maintain a clean Mac keyboard you just need to follow a few simple steps once in a while:

  1. Unplug your keyboard or shut down your laptop

  2. If you have an external keyboard, turn it upside down and shake to loosen any debris that has accumulated in between the keys. If you’re using the standard keyboard on a MacBook, gently turn it upside down and rock it back and forth (but don’t shake it too hard).

  3. Slightly wet a lint-free cloth or paper towel

  4. Gently wipe the keyboard to help get rid of dirt or oils that have gotten stuck on the keys, trackpad, and the spaces in between

  5. To get through stubborn grime, gently rub it with an alcohol-damped cotton swab

After you’ve cleared the keyboard with the steps outlined above, you can add another layer to the process by using a compressed air spray around the keys to completely get rid of dirt, dust, or crumbs.

A preventative solution to help keep your keyboard clean would also be to avoid eating near the computer and washing hands regularly to avoid creating buildups.

Mac keyboard clean how to

How to clean Apple’s butterfly keyboard

If you have a MacBook from 2015 or newer: a 2016 MacBook Pro or a 2018 MacBook Air, for example, you’ll need to take extra care when cleaning the keyboard, as removing the keys on Apple’s slimline butterfly mechanism may break them (leaving you with a pricey repair bill).

This new keyboard design is now a standard across many Macs, but unfortunately there have been many reports of keys getting stuck and other grievances. To help stop your keyboard from going awry, all you need to do is follow Apple’s recommended guidelines for a clean Mac keyboard:

  1. Tilt the MacBook at a 75-degree angle and hold in position

  2. Use a compressed air spray can to dislodge any debris around the keyboard. Then apply the attached nozzle straw and spray about half an inch from the keyboard from left to right.

  3. Put the MacBook on its side and continue to air spray

  4. Change sides and repeat the process once again

By now, you should have removed any blockages or debris from your keyboard.

How to clean MacBook screen effectively

Trying to watch videos, reply to emails, or read an article on your laptop screen full of fingerprints and dust isn’t fun. That’s why cleaning your screen should be an important part of your computer upkeep. However, remember to exercise extreme caution as abrasive cloths can damage your Mac.

A clean and shiny screen lets you see your Mac from a completely new perspective. You’ll feel like you’ve just taken a new MacBook right out of the box. Here’s what you need to do to achieve a clean MacBook screen viewing experience:

  1. Shut down your MacBook and unplug the power adaptor (friction from a dry cloth may interact with and damage a plugged adaptor)

  2. Using a dry microfiber cloth, gently polish the screen in small circles. Don’t use excessive force. Stay away from paper towels, abrasive fabrics, and dish towels that may be too rough.

  3. Keep polishing the screen for about five minutes to remove fingerprints and other dirt particles

If a dry cloth wasn’t enough to remove all the prints on your screen, you can try using a moist cloth. Dampen a soft microfiber cloth with water. Excess water may drip into your laptop causing serious damage, so be sure the cloth is only slightly moist. Use distilled water to minimize the risk of minerals found in tap water from causing a short. Don’t spray water or other chemicals directly onto your screen as that can cause a short or damage to the screen itself.

display Mac Apple retina clean

How to clean a Mac mouse properly

Computer mice are known for harbouring lots of germs. Even without the use of a tracking ball, the rubber parts underneath the mouse can collect grime too. If the sensor lens becomes dirty, it can prevent the mouse from working at its optimum capacity. All to say — it’s a good idea to clean your mouse regularly, especially before you pass it on to another person:

  1. Unplug your mouse from the computer

  2. To remove fingerprints and grime, wipe the mouse body with a microfiber cloth

  3. To clean the scroll wheel on top of the mouse and any other grooves, try using a toothpick

  4. Flip the mouse upside down to clean the rubber base with a cotton wool bud. You can also use this to clean the sensor lens but be careful not to push too hard on the sensor window.

Mac keyboard mouse Apple clean

How to clean dust from inside your Mac

If you’ve been experiencing problems like your Mac overheating, hearing more fan noise, unexpected shutdowns, or slower performance, it may be due to the fact that you have too much dust caught in the fan and battery area. Although newer Macs are less likely to suffer from this issue.

To clean the dust, you’ll need to get inside your Mac, but doing so can void your warranty, unfortunately. After looking up the proper instructions to open your Mac, you can use compressed air spray to puff away the accumulated dust.

It’s better to take preventative measures like keeping your work area free of dust and working with your laptop on a hard table surface rather than on your lap or a couch.

How to clean your Mac’s desktop

Now that you know how to take care of the exterior of your Mac, you also need to do some work to maintain your desktop tidy as well. Luckily, there are a few apps that make keeping your files in order a simple feat.

Looking for ways on how to clean Mac desktop? Spotless is a smart desktop organizer that will help keep your files neat and tidy. Create your own rules and schedule tasks to tidy folders without you lifting a finger. Just drag and drop your files onto the app’s pop-up drawer in the Menu bar and get a prompt to set a new rule right away.

Organize your files by type and schedule automated tidying up at the time most convenient for you. Get a spotless desktop with Spotless’ handy file management tools!

automatically declutter your desktop

Another way to keep a clean Mac is by clearing irrelevant icons that demand attention and hog processing power. You can do this easily with the Bartender app by customizing your macOS menu bar. You decide which icons stay visible on screen and which go into a collapsible bar. For hotkey fans, Bartender supports keyboard quick shortcuts, so you don’t even have to take your hands off the keyboard.

clean icons Bartender app

Finally, CleanMyMac X is the easiest way to keep your computer running in top shape with the single click of a mouse. Its range of capabilities includes a full system cleanup, malware removal, app uninstaller, and a shredder to eliminate files without a trace. If you haven’t had a clean MacBook Pro in a while, take this app for a spin and watch your laptop speed improve automatically with the removal of hard drive junk.

CleanMyMac X Mac cleaner

Now that you know how to clean MacBook on the outside, you can also easily keep the inside clean and tidy with the help of apps like Spotless, Bartender, and CleanMyMac X. The best part is you can use all those apps (plus 150 more) free when you sign up for a seven-day trial of Setapp, the best app platform to keep your Mac life productive. Why not give Setapp a try today and see how swiftly you can achieve a truly clean Mac.

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