Cleaning Your Laptop’s Touchpad

One of the things I miss about using a ThinkPad is the TrackPoint. Yes, here I am again dwelling on those rubbery nubs that come standard with all ThinkPads (sadly, not with all the Lenovo-branded laptops, though, even if they’re practically made by the same company). However, since I’ve already replaced my trusty old ThinkPad with a Compaq V2000, I had to get used to using a touchpad. And guess what? I realized that touchpads aren’t as easy to maintain in terms of cleanliness compared to trackpoint nubs, especially for one who tends to have sweaty and sometimes oily fingers.

I can hear you saying “yuck,” but let’s face it, not all palms and fingertips are built the same and touchpads do tend to get dirty. Touchpads may be the de facto standard in laptop pointing devices, and many are more accustomed to them than rubber nubs. But because of the touchpad’s being essentially supposed to be a smooth surface for your fingers to glide on effortlessly, they tend to suffer from the following problems after some time.

  • Sticky surfaces. This usually happens if you’re fond of eating while using your computer. Sometimes food residue or even beverages get to lodge themselves on your touchpad. Imagine spilling a few drops of coffee on your touchpad. That sure would be a sticky situation.
  • Oily residue. Okay, this is icky, but many laptop users have sweaty and possibly oily palms and fingertips. It’s a fact of life. Let’s live with it.

Whatever these are, the imperfections on touchpad surfaces can lead to inefficient cursor control and even possible hardware damange. Sticky surfaces would mean slow and clumsy cursor movement. Oily residue on the touchpad surface would strip off the touchpad finish after some time, and this would eventually lead into a very slippery or sticky touchpad surface. At the very least your touchpad would no longer have a uniform texture.

Cleaning Your Touchpad

Yahoo Tech recommends using an alcohol solution or diluted window cleaning solution.

Carefully clean finger oils and dirt from your laptop’s touchpad with a damp cloth; you can also add a small amount – less than 50 percent of the solution – of isopropyl alcohol.

Vinegarbook.co.uk says use vinegar. Okay, I’m not for smelly laptops, but I guess the acid in vinegar does dissolve some dirt and grime. Just make sure you don’t use too much, as you might damage the touchpad membrane.

If you work with a laptop PC then you may well find that the finger touch control pad quickly becomes unresponsive, sticky or un-smooth. When the laptop is switched off, just dampen a kitchen towel with a little vinegar and wipe all around the control pad.

You can also use a simple lens-cleaning cloth both on the LCD and the touchpad. These are usually soft and non-abrasive and good for general laptop cleaning. For dust or debris wedged into the touchpad edges, you can try compressed air sprays.

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