Major cleaning: make your old laptop like new again

A laptop that has been in use for a few years not only becomes uglier due to dirt and dust, but also warms up faster inside and slower. In this guide we look at how you can make your old animal sparkle again.


After a while your laptop looks older: the keyboard wears and gets an ugly plastic look, dirt, dust and stickiness collects between the keys, corners, holes, hinges and slots get clogged with dirt and dust, and the device gets battered with scratches and pits.

Even worse is that the device is aging on the inside: cooling elements collect deposits, heat conduction deteriorates and the processor is therefore not cooled as well, causing your laptop to overheat faster. The result is that the device produces more noise, performs poorly and all components are loaded with a heavier load, thus shortening the service life of the device.

You don’t even have to have that much technical knowledge to properly clean your laptop. With curiosity and appropriate caution you will come a long way. We help you on the basis of these tips and advice, so that you can take a look at your laptop this Christmas holiday to make it work like new.


  • Compressed air (spray can)
  • A little brush
  • A mild glass cleaner or mild LCD cleaner
  • Cotton swabs)
  • Non-fluffy cloth or kitchen roll
  • Polishing paste (optional)

Clean the outside

We start with the housing. You can remove dirt with a lint-free cloth, for example a fiber cloth, and possibly a mild detergent. Carefully wipe the keys and remove the deposit between the keys with the compressed air and / or a cotton swab. You can easily remove crumbs, etc. Do not spray cleaning agents directly on the laptop and avoid moisture in the case.

Hold the laptop with the keys facing down and press the keys to release crumbs. Then spray with compressed air along the edges of the keys. Repeat this process a few times until you are satisfied with the result.

Scratches or wear spots are of course difficult to solve, but with a scouring pad you can make an ever sparkling device that is now scratched matte. That gives the laptop a completely different look, with less scratches. You can tackle deep scratches or scratches on painted surfaces with polishing paste.

Open the laptop

Cleaning the inside of the laptop is completely different. The repairability varies depending on the manufacturer: some laptops are easy to screw open, while others are very difficult to tackle. On the iFixit repair site you will find good tips and extensive guides for various laptop models here.

However, this effort is well worth the effort. After cleaning the inside, noisy fans can suddenly be whisper quiet again and the device will no longer be so hot when you sit on it with it.

First, make sure that the device is completely turned off and if possible, remove the battery to ensure that it stays that way. Then the opening screws begin. Proceed patiently, systematically and carefully. Some models still have a crosshead, but torx, Allen or pentalobes are increasingly in fashion and you need separate tools for that.

Sometimes the screws are shielded with a cap, for model-specific tips we would like to refer you to the iFixit guides. Incidentally, this site also offers a repair kit with all sorts of necessities to also repair smartphones, which are usually much harder to tackle, or loose screwdrivers for the obscure screws.

Consult the manual of your device (if you no longer have it, google the type number to find it online) or search YouTube to see if an enterprising hobbyist has already started working with your model. It is also advisable to remember where all the screws of different lengths come from: take photos and store them carefully in, for example, a jar or better yet: a series of jars that indicate the order.

Clean the inside

Often a good number of screws hold the device together and some enclosures click together in a specific way. It is difficult to give general tips on this, so we recommend that you search carefully for your model online, watch videos and consult device-specific guides. In any case, the following applies: be patient and careful. If something does not seem to be moving, then that may also be true, unless you are sure that you should be able to remove a part.

Older models in particular are easier. Remove as many parts as possible, usually the hard disk can for example be clicked loose or even extended with a bracket. The lower cover is usually fastened with a series of screws and once these are loose, you can easily lift the cover and see the inside.

Laptops usually only have one cooler on the chipset to cool the motherboard and the processor. Often there are spools or cooling elements running towards all other components and you can see various cooling fins or ribs scattered here and there. The fan is usually in the vicinity and often causes the most noise when it is dirty.

Locate the fan and use a brush and compressed air to carefully remove dust from the fan and the cooling fins. You can usually also remove the entire structure from the electronics to be able to clean it. If possible, you can apply new thermal paste before you reconnect the construction.

The cooling fan of the laptop is usually close to or even on the cooling fins. Use compressed air and a brush to gently remove dust from the cooler and cooling fins. Then find the screws or brackets that hold the cooling material in place. After removing the mounts, it must be possible to disconnect the fan from the electronic components.

Upgrading components

If you still have the device open, you may also be able to see if you can upgrade the laptop. Replacing a CPU or GPU is often difficult, but adding extra RAM can make your device a lot faster due to the larger working memory. Make sure the RAM type matches. Replacing an HDD with an SSD can also work wonders.

Then reassemble the laptop, possibly with the help of the photos, instructions, or other documentation. Then turn it on again.

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