Using everyday household products to clean your MacBook and other devices can cause liquid damage. 

Bravo for regularly cleaning and disinfecting your MacBook. Whether you are a remote worker, computer repair company staffer, or a school employee, the few minutes it takes to care for your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro will keep it in good working order while reducing the chances of viral spread.

If you do it right, that is.

At MicroReplay, we have commissioned a survey asking device owners about their cleaning habits. Out of concern over the spread of COVID-19, 80% of respondents disinfect the surfaces of their devices regularly, with 42% doing it daily and 35% doing it a few times every week.[1]

That is the good news. The not-so-good news is that device owners may be damaging their devices in helping to stop the virus.

When you walk into a local Target or the cleaning aisle of a grocery store, you will find products that appear ideal for MacBooks, tablets, and other devices. Look at the labels, and taglines will tout that “Bacteria does not stand a chance!” But flip the colorful bottle around and note the ingredients. The cleaning agents in these products rank between 11 and 13 on the pH scale, meaning they are not acidic like black coffee. The products are more of a base than acid, but they are still dangerous to your device and should never be sprayed directly on it.


Note: Please don’t do this!

“Wait a minute? How does cleaning your MacBook cause liquid damage?”

Any liquid – including a disinfectant – will start to erode your shiny new MacBook Pro’s components the instant it gets inside. If you let just a single minute pass and rest assured, these products will cause liquid damage.

With that in mind, examine your Lysol’s packaging. It needs 10 minutes to disinfect a surface thoroughly. Clorox? It requires four minutes to evaporate.

That is fine when wiping down a sink but allowing the cleaner to remain that long on a MacBook gives the liquid plenty of time to seep through the keyboard and get to work damaging the logic board.

What about using Windex to clean the screen? That is a bad idea, too, because it can harm a MacBook’s anti-reflective (oleophobic) display or exterior finish. The blue dye in the cleaner can also change the color surfaces. Any cleaner or disinfectant with acetone will do the same. And, not to mention, Windex has no germ-killing properties, so you are not actually cleaning anything.

It would help if you also avoided aerosols. The same goes for bleach. It will not only damage your device; it will stink it up with a strong cleaning smell.

The good news from our survey is that just 12% of respondents are inclined to spray Lysol or Clorox onto a device. The bad news is that an even smaller percentage are confident about what they should use to clean or disinfect their MacBook or tablet.

“What do I need in order to disinfect my device?”

The CDC and Apple itself understand that users have a desire to disinfect their MacBooks, and both offer the same advice on how to clean your computer effectively:

“Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces,” Apple writes.

Many of our survey respondents have taken that advice to heart. 38% of them purchase wipes that are known to kill the virus that causes COVID-19. One of the reasons organizations recommends isopropyl alcohol is that it dries a lot quicker than most disinfectants – 30 seconds than 4-10 minutes. Moreover, wipes are much less likely to cause damage versus liquid disinfectants.

Still, there are risks to using wipes. Too much exposure to their ingredients can ruin the oleophobic coating on specific MacBook models, tablet touch screens, and smartphone displays.

When it comes to knowing what to use for wiping, your best bet is a microfiber cloth. Don’t have one handy? Any paper towel will do the job (although lower-end, cheaper towels will be more likely to leave lint on your computer – creating additional cleaning issues). Regardless of the type of wipe you use, a good rule of thumb is not to use the same one twice. Doing so, according to Today, creates more germs. Many survey respondents are aware that less than 4% go about reusing the same wipes.

“Wow. I finally feel that my MacBook is disinfected.”

It only makes sense for a device owner to grab a Lysol spray and think it would be useful. After all, look at how it makes your counter shine.

But the components in your MacBook have little in common with kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Treat your device like the expensive, precision-crafted technology that it is, and take care to use the right products and techniques for cleaning. Not only will you save yourself a pricey repair should liquid damage occur, but you will also effectively reduce your chances of spreading viruses like COVID-19.

On one final note: Avoid putting your MacBook in a bag of rice if disinfectant, or any liquid for that matter, damages it. That may do more harm than you think.


  [1] “A survey of US-based adults was commissioned on September 25, 2020. A total of 300 responses were received.”

At MicroReplay, we know a thing or two about MacBooks and how to repair these devices. With over twenty plus years of experience, our company specializes in repairing liquid damaged MacBooks and other high-end laptops.

In need of a liquid spill or cracked screen repair? Book a repair with us today!

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