How to clean a Mac keyboard, display, and more

It’s not difficult to do, but keeping a clean Mac can help it run smoother, and keep you from getting sick as well. Here are a few ways you can keep your Mac looking new and fresh.

Clean that keyboard

It’s fair to say that the dirtiest part of your Mac is its keyboard. Even if you wash your hands every time you sit down to type, the keyboard collects the germs and sweat from your fingers, and the dust in your room or office. This can make for sticky keys and transfer viruses, or worse.

First, unplug your keyboard from your computer or, in the case of a wireless keyboard, remove its batteries. (If you’re cleaning a laptop keyboard, shut down the computer and unplug the power adapter.) Blow out the dust and, if necessary, vacuum the space between the keys (or under them, depending on the type of keyboard you have).

Next, clean your keys with disinfecting wipes. (Apple recommends Lysol and Clorox Kitchen disinfecting wipes.) Since the alcohol evaporates, there’s no risk of liquid damaging the keyboard. Still, make sure to squeeze out sopping wipes.

If you don’t have wipes, put a drop of standard dishwashing detergent in a glass of water. Soak a soft cloth in this concoction and then wring it out until it’s barely damp. Now wipe the cloth over the keys to get rid of the grime. Rinse the detergent out of your cloth, wring it out, and then finish up by wiping your keyboard off again. Be very careful not to get water under the keys. You should do this regularly, to make sure that no germs fester under your fingers.

Prevent the keyboard from getting dirty

iSkiniSkin
The iSkin ProTouch keyboard protector is easy to wash.

If cleaning your keyboard proves a mighty chore, or if you have a new one you want to protect from pet hair, cookie crumbs, and the like, you might want to use a keyboard protector, such as the iSkin ProTouch, a silicone keyboard protector that’s easy to wash (about $20). An even thinner option is the Moshi ClearGuard.

Get rid of dust

While most Macs today are designed so you can’t open them, the Mac Pro remains the one model that’s easy to get inside. Unfortunately, because of the way it’s designed, it also collects a lot of dust. I had a pre-2013 Mac Pro (the original “cheesegrater” case) for several years, and found I had to clean it every few months.

It’s okay to vacuum the outside of your computer with a standard vacuum, but you want to avoid using it on the inside of your Mac because of the possibility that static electricity from the vacuum could zap its electronics. Instead, purchase a vacuum specifically designed for electronic components or use a battery-powered vacuum. Alternatively, haul the computer outside and blow the dust out with compressed air.