5 Replies Latest reply: Mar 10, 2014 4:29 PM by PlotinusVeritas
crssbns Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

So I cleaned the outside of my Late 2013 21.5" iMac with rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol), including the screen and around the edges of the screen. It took 3-4 tries with a paper towel soaked in the rubbing alcohol to get it squeaky clean again (I have a skin condition that requires me to put lotion on my hands/forearms and over time the lotion managed to get all over the screen and around the edges of the iMac from moving it around). The paper towel wasn't wet enough to drip, but very close to it. My iMac had a very visible film of rubbing alcohol residue all over it after I finished wiping it down with the rubbing alcohol, which I cleaned up with a dry cloth. I used the rubbing alcohol straight out of the bottle onto the paper towel - did not dilute it.

Prior to doing any of this I had called Apple to see what kinds of cleaners I could use on my iMac. The woman on the customer support line said I could use rubbing alcohol to clean off the screen, which didn't seem to be that unusual to me since I've heard of people cleaning electronics with it before.

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So, after I cleaned my iMac it seemed like the screen was more difficult to read and see details, and for the first time I actually noticed individual pixels without looking for them. I was worried that I might have done damage to it, so I called Apple again and spoke with a different customer service rep.

He was shocked that I had been told by another Apple customer service rep to use rubbing alcohol to clean my iMac. He told me that rubbing alcohol can "soak through" the glass on the screen, and damage the LCD behind it - but I'm skeptical of this because it doesn't make sense to me that glass could be porous. He told me that rubbing alcohol can even damage internal components, and that in his many years of computer repair experience he would NEVER recommend using rubbing alcohol on any electronics or computers, period.

After doing some research on my own I found out that Apple is putting a special coating on the screens of these current iMacs, which is supposed to reduce glare. I never really paid much attention to the glare on my screen prior to cleaning it, but I wonder now if the rubbing alcohol removed this anti-glare coating (since I had to wipe it down 3-4 times to get all the lotion residue off), the lack of which may be causing my eyes to have more difficulty reading and seeing details on the screen, in addition to making the pixels easier to see?

What do you guys think? Could I have damaged this coating by cleaning with rubbing alcohol?

Also, I didn't realize that the small gap between the screen and the body/shell of the iMac wasn't sealed completely. I'm concerned that excess rubbing alcohol (which there was) may have gotten into the gap and damaged the adhesive holding the screen on and even possibly the internal components? If this is the case, how would I know if any of the components have been damaged? Is there some sort of self-test that I can run to verify that all the hardware is running up to their proper/maximum performance specs?

I know I might seem a little bit too worried, but this is seriously the most expensive piece of electronic equipment I've ever owned (special ordered directly from Apple @ $2k), and I want to make sure I haven't damaged it.


iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013), OS X Mavericks (10.9.2)
  • MichelPM Level 6 Level 6 (10,105 points)

    You may have damaged this by using the Rubbing Alcohol. No Doubt about it!

    Never, EVER use any type of rubbing alcohol or any caustic or ammonia based glass cleaners on/in or around your Mac

    Does your screen still look streaky or like it has been etched? Does it look cloudy?

    Here is a link to properly clean your desktop Mac.

    If this your first and very expensive Mac, you should have done a little research before just assuming and using rubbing alcohol on a piece of expensive computing equipment.




    The alcohol, probably, damaged the coating on the glass, trapped some residue behind the coating onto the glass potential damaging the glass, itself and could, potentially over time, make it to the LCD screen.

    Apple bonds the glass panel directly onto the LCD screen, on the new 2012-2013 models , now.

    So, there is the potential for the LCD to get damaged.

    I only use a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and really wrung out to clean the screen first, then the aluminum body.

    Only clean your iMac body and screen when your iMac is turned off.

    AppleCare will NOT cover this kind of damage, so if this has happened, you will have to get this repaired at your own expense. This could be very expense to correct. You will have to make an appointment with an Apple Store for diagnosis and to tell them what happened.

    As this was an accident! maybe if you really plead your case and ignorance! maybe you can reach an agreement whereby you might only have to pay a reduced repair/replacement cost instead of having to foot the entire repair bill.

    Not good. And not good as this seems to be a fairly new Mac.


    Not ot sure about the internal electronic components. All you can do is make an appointment with an Apple Store and have an Apple store tech look over everything to see if there is no liquid or etching marks formed from the combination of heat and the presence of the rubbing alcohol.


    So Sorry.


    An expensive Live and learn lesson.

  • MichelPM Level 6 Level 6 (10,105 points)

    If your screen doesn't look etched, streaky or cloudy when dry, you probably lucked out and not damaged the matte coating, glass or LCD.

    I do not know if isopropyl alcohol is strong enough to completely wipe away the matte coating on the screen.

    If you still do not notice any real, strong glare from the iMac's screen, then the coating is still intact and, again, you have lucked out.

    Still not sure about the internal electronics, though.

    If your cloth was really wrung out, nothing may have not been damaged. Again, lucked out.

    Don't ever use that method and cleaning solution, again!

  • PlotinusVeritas Level 6 Level 6 (14,715 points)


    crssbns wrote:


    What do you guys think? Could I have damaged this coating by cleaning with rubbing alcohol?





    Dont think you have,  I know you have.






    I use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) everyday all the time on things.   I run thru 2 bottles a week.





    Never never never use anything but water, and NEVER dripping wet




    Use a very lightly damp, soft (if you can squeeze the cloth very tightly and even a drop comes out, its still too damp), lint-free cloth to clean the computer’s exterior. Avoid getting moisture in any openings and be very careful not to get the damp cloth around the trackpad edges or around the inside edge between the monitor and its bezel. Do not spray any type of liquid directly on the computer. Do not use sprays, solvents, or abrasives; do not attempt to use any solvents on the LCD display either directly (especially!) or indirectly. There is never any call to use any type of lens cleaning solvents on the screen of your LCD display. Again, do not spray any liquid directly on the screen. Never use Kleenex, or paper towels, these are abrasive. Soft cotton cloth only or a microfiber lens cleaning cloth.


    No rubbing alcoholic, no glass cleaners of any variety, no acetone, no lens cleaning sprays, no AR coating sprays, no sprays sold as "for your LCD TV", no sprays sold as "for your notebook display".  Water only, and never sprayed on, and never dripping wet even slightly on the cloth.

  • seventy one Level 6 Level 6 (11,620 points)

    Greetings PV,


    Agree with your post entirely but I have to report, my local Apple store sells a spray 'for cleaning screens'.   Which rather contradicts Apples formal document, wouldn't you say?

  • PlotinusVeritas Level 6 Level 6 (14,715 points)

    Yeah, I know they sell that



    Apple stores also sell keyboard covers, which contradicts THIS:


    Apple additionally now recommends against using these keyboard covers on current Macbooks:

    "Leaving any material on the top case  could result in damage to the display when you close it. This includes palm rest or keyboard covers, as well as any adhesive-backed keycap additions."



    Go figure