How to Clean Your Mac's Display

Step away from the glass cleaner!

MacBook Pro

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Cleaning a Mac's display is an easy process with only a few do's and don'ts to consider. Although these instructions are specifically about Apple displays, they work for most liquid-crystal display (LCD) screens. For general instructions for cleaning LCD screens and television screens, check out how to clean a flat-screen monitor.

The instructions in this article apply to the displays on Mac laptops and desktop computers, as well as any third-party displays you use with a Mac.

Mac displays come in two categories: naked LCD screens and glass LCD screens.

Naked LCD screens are used on many of the older portable Macs and most third-party desktop monitors.

Glass LCD screens, like the ones used in recent iMacs, are naked LCDs with a glass panel in front of them. Because the LCD panel is protected, you may think it's OK to use household glass cleaner on your iMac. No, it isn't. Apple recommends distilled water for cleaning these displays. Distilled water is sufficient to remove any dirt, smudges, and cat or dog nose prints. If you encounter a stubborn spot, use a distilled white vinegar and distilled water combination.

Cleaning Your Mac's Display

What you need:

  • Two microfiber cloths
  • Distilled water
  • Distilled white vinegar

Two microfiber cloths are convenient because you can use one for the dry cleaning of the display and dampen the second one with distilled water for stubborn spots. You can manage with a single microfiber cloth but be careful to dampen only a small area of it.

Turn off the computer and monitor and disconnect from the power source before you begin the cleaning process.

  1. Start by using a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down the display gently. Don't press hard against the LCD panel, because this can cause problems with the individual pixels that make up the display. If you're cleaning a glass panel, you can apply a little more pressure, but you should still use a light hand.

  2. When the dry cleaning is complete, check the display for any remaining spots or dirty areas. In many cases, a light cleaning with the dry microfiber cloth is all that is needed.

  3. If you still have areas that need cleaning, dampen the second microfiber cloth with distilled water and gently go back over the areas that are still dirty. Do not spray liquid directly on the display. Wipe dry with the first cloth and then inspect the display.

  4. If any dirt is stubbornly hanging on, mix a distilled white vinegar and distilled water mixture. Never use a solution that is more than 50 percent vinegar. One part vinegar and three parts water should do the trick.

  5. Dampen the second microfiber cloth with the cleaning mixture and wipe the display, concentrating on any areas that are still dirty.

  6. Wipe the display with the dry cloth and then inspect the display again. It should be clean by now, but you can go over it one more time with the damp microfiber cloth if necessary. Be sure to finish with the dry cloth.

It's possible, though unlikely, that a smudge or spot on the glass panel on your Mac's display is on the inside surface. If that's the case, the best thing to do is take the display to an Apple Store for cleaning. A trained technician can pull the glass panel, clean both surfaces of the glass and the underlying LCD panel, and then seal it all back up without damaging the display.