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How to Clean Your Mac’s Screen


Opening a new Pages or Word document on your Mac can really showcase how smudged your screen is. You can set everything to Dark mode to avoid reality for a while, but really you should just clean your Mac screen.

MacBook and iMac screens are made of different materials than many PC screens, so you need to take particular steps to clean them safely and effectively. We’re here to tell you those steps, so your smudgy shame can be ended immediately!

Getting Ready to Clean Your Mac’s Screen

Materials needed for cleaning a Mac screen, plus a MacBook

Before you start cleaning your Mac’s screen, it’s important you know what materials your screen is made of and what kind of cleaning products work on it.

The screens of iMac and MacBook computers aren’t plastic, like LCD screens like you might find on a PC monitor or laptop. They’re instead made of glass.

This means you can’t use LCD monitor wipes or sprays on your Mac screen to get it clean. Those cleaners have chemicals in them that can cloud or damage glass, even though they clean an LCD screen well.

You actually only need two things to clean your Mac’s screen: a clean microfiber cloth, and a little bit of water. If you have nano-texture glass on your iMac for reducing glare, you’ll only need the polishing cloth that came with your computer, or you can buy one from Apple.


To make sure your microfiber or polishing cloth is clean, hand wash it with dish soap, rinse it thoroughly, and let it hang dry fully before using it on your Mac’s screen.

You can use a cleaning product as well if you want, but you have to be very careful about the ingredients in the cleaner. According to Apple, it cannot contain acetone, solvents, ammonia, abrasives, or hydrogen peroxide, and the cleaner shouldn’t be a window or household cleaner.

You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol if you want to use a cleaner other than water, but that should be applied to the cloth you’re using, not the screen. Never ever spray or drip any liquid at or onto your Mac’s screen!

Before you start cleaning, your Mac should be powered down, and it shouldn’t be plugged into a charger or power cord either. You may want to clean out dust from your Mac first too so that you won’t have dust floating up onto your screen the second you’re done cleaning it.

Cleaning Your Mac Screen, Step by Step

To start cleaning your Mac’s screen, first put enough water or Mac-safe screen cleaner on one half of your microfiber cloth to dampen it. Avoid soaking the cloth, as you don’t want drops of liquid getting into openings in your Mac.

A microfiber cloth is dipped in water to dampen it for screen cleaning

Hold the back of your Mac’s screen with one hand to steady it, and hold your cloth in the other. Wipe your screen with the dampened part of the cloth in rows from top to bottom or in columns from side to side, being sure not to touch the screen with your hands as you do so.

Wipe the entire screen down several times to remove persistent smudges. Some patience is required with this, but keep wiping with consistent pressure and your Mac’s screen will eventually come clean, we promise!

When your screen is smudge free, do a final wipe down of the whole thing with the dry part of your microfiber cloth (or with a second, dry cloth). This time, wipe in small circles all across and up and down the screen to remove any streaking created by your cleaning method.

Hands cleaning a MacBook screen with a microfiber cloth

If you’re cleaning nano-texture glass, you’ll need to wipe your screen in the row and column method described above, just with a dry, Apple-made polishing cloth. If you have particularly stubborn smudges, you can moisten the cloth with 70% isopropyl alcohol, and wipe with that.

Keep Your Mac Screen Clean (For as Long as You Can)

Sadly, no Mac screen will stay smudge-free forever. But there are a few steps you can take to reduce the need to constantly clean your screen.

First, don’t eat around your computer. That will prevent food bits and saliva from flying out and hitting your screen; it will also keep your keyboard and mouse or trackpad cleaner, too.

You can also keep saliva from smudging your screen by making sure your Mac is fairly far away from you when you’re on video calls. It’s also important to avoid coughing and sneezing on your computer whenever possible.

Woman on a video call on her iMac sits with some distance from her computer

The basic secret for all of this is the farther your screen is from your mouth, the cleaner your screen will stay. So consider setting up your computer in a place where you can have some distance from your Mac while you use it.

It’s also good to cover your Mac’s screen while you’re not using it. If you have a MacBook, consider getting it a sleeve that it goes into whenever it’s not in use. If you have an iMac, perhaps get a dust cover a cloth to drape over it when it’s in sleep mode or off.

Screen protectors exist for iMacs and MacBooks and, though you’ll have to clean the protectors themselves, putting them on your computer can keep the actual glass screen spotless.

Screen protectors can impact whether you can close your MacBook, so be careful about what kind you buy. Some can offer anti-glare finishes, though, which is nice when dealing with shiny Mac screens.

The final tip to keep your Mac screen clean is to clean it consistently. Wipe it down once a week, or once or twice a month, to keep smudges from accumulating and to keep your screen looking shiny and new a majority of the time.

A Clean Mac Screen Equals a Happy Mac Owner

It can be hard to focus on a task on your Mac if you’re thinking about how gross your screen is. We hope our tips have helped you get the clean screen you’re looking for, and show you how to keep it clean, so you can use your Mac with fewer distractions in the future!

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