How to clean rubberized laptop surfaces

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Laptops with rubberized surfaces are uncommon, but they’re still around. Among the most well-known of them all being Dell’s insanely popular line of Alienware gaming laptops. Rubberized palm rests and surfaces are comfortable to touch, they don’t stain all too easily and they look great. But they’re surprisingly susceptible becoming sticky in certain environments, and they can be tough to clean.

Cleaning rubberized surfaces on electronics requires some specific solutions that aren’t too obvious, and this can complicate things a bunch. On top of that, because these rubberized surfaces are not too common in daily use, it can be hard to find cleaning tips for it on the internet. If you’re one of these people having trouble cleaning your rubberized laptop, well worry not, we’re here for you.

Today we’ll be breaking down how to clean rubberized laptop surfaces, as well why exactly it becomes sticky and oily in the first place. Keeping your electronics nice and clean is a constant and involved process, so it’s important to know why they’re getting dirty in the first place. We’re here to give you the full rundown, so keep reading to find out more.

Why does my rubberized laptop surface get sticky?

So what exactly causes your laptop to get so sticky in the first place? Well, rubber begins as a sticky substance, because raw rubber is essentially a liquid. To turn it into the commercial form of rubber that you find on products like your laptop, it needs to be put through a process called vulcanization. This heats up the rubber and mixes with other chemicals, changing it to a stretchy solid material.

Under specific circumstances and with natural wear and tear, the molecules that make up your rubberized surface can slowly untangle and begin to become tacky. When this happens, your laptop begins to pick up oils and become sticky again. This is what leads to some of those seemingly permanent oil marks on your laptop that you probably have trouble removing.

How to clean rubberized laptop surfaces
Alienware 17 Ranger rubberized keyboard

So, now that you know what exactly is going on, how do we clean it? Thankfully, it’s not actually all too difficult, you just need the right tools and solutions. We’re going to make a list of all the methods you can use to clean up your laptop, so that you can pick the one that’s most convenient or accessible.

Cleaning method 1: Microfiber cloth and window cleaner

Window and glass cleaners are surprisingly effective at cleaning up any grime or dirt on rubberized surfaces. It’s also important to make sure that you’re using a microfiber cloth instead of a normal cloth. Most of these normal bargain clothes can leave behind fine lint, which sticks to the rubberized surface and only leads to more cleaning headaches further down the line.

As for cleaning the surface itself, it’s exactly the same affair as cleaning a window or glass table. Spray down the surface, let it sit for a few seconds and then proceed to wipe it down. Now, you’ll want to be careful since you don’t want to get window cleaner into the delicate electronics inside. Just don’t do it reckless abandon and you’ll be good to go.

Once you’ve wiped it up, you should find that your laptop is now clean and spotless. This is the most easily accessible solution on this list, as window cleaners and microfiber cloths are available at pretty much any supermarket or grocery store. If you’re looking for other methods however, we’ve got you covered.

Cleaning method 2: Microfiber cloth and leather cleaner

Another substance that makes surprisingly quick work of dirty rubberized surfaces is leather cleaner. Not only does it get rid of grime, it also gives your laptop a fresh new sheen that shines. It’s a great choice if you happen to have some lying around, since it works better than window cleaner. You’ll still want a microfiber cloth to keep things lint free though.

The cleaning method here is that same as with any leather product however. Apply some of the leather cleaner to your cloth and get to rubbing down your dirty surface. Watch as the oils and stickiness melt away after mere contact with the leather cleaning solution. Excellent option if you can get access to come.

Now, what if you’ve tried both of these, but it doesn’t work? Maybe your surface has some more stubborn stains that refuse to go away. Well, there’s another way, but you’re going to need some safety precautions before trying that out.

Cleaning method 3: Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl is a synthetic alcohol, and it’s absolutely excellent for cleaning things like rubberized surfaces, though it’s a bit of a safety hazard. Allowing it to come into contact with skin can cause some irritation, and in large amounts it can even be poisonous. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re ready to handle it if you plan to use it.

Get some latex gloves and a face mask before opening up your isopropyl. It’s also flammable, so stay far away from any sort of sparking source of heat. Now that you’ve prepared all the safety precautions necessary, you can get to cleaning your laptop.

First, spray the isopropyl onto the rubberized surface, taking care not to get any into the device’s delicate internals. Isopropyl dries quickly, so you’ll want to be quick. Pull out a clean, preferably microfiber cloth, and start wiping down the laptop. Depending on how stubborn the stains are, it may take a bit of force, but with some effort it’ll get the stain off just fine.

If it doesn’t come off the first time and your isopropyl dries up, then just repeat the steps again until it’s done. Make sure to test out your device to see if it still works, which it should just fine as long as you didn’t go to town spraying your laptop. Now you’ve got a clean laptop to use!


Getting dirt, grime and stickiness off your rubberized laptop can be a chore, but it’s important to ensure it stays comfortable to use. The last thing you’d want is for your laptop to start becoming a bed of moldy growths. We hope this article helped answer your questions on how to clean rubberized laptop surfaces and have fun!

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