How to Clean Your Desk for a Fresh Start

Front view of a clean and organized desk

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Take a look at your home office desk. Is it dusty? Covered in stacks of paper? Drawers filled with dozens of pens that don't work? Crumb-filled keyboard? It's time to clean your desk and the accessories you use for work. And, when you finish, work with your kids to clean up their homework and study desks.

Whether your desk is large or small, a standing desk or a simple flat surface, cleaning and refreshing a desk will make your workspace healthier, more pleasant, and more efficient. Learn how to clean and disinfect your home desk.

How Often to Clean Your Desk

No matter the style, your desk is a piece of furniture that should be dusted at least weekly. Spills from beverages or crumbs should be cleared away immediately and electronic equipment should be cleaned weekly. Do a monthly sort of papers and file or recycle them. Twice a year, do a complete clean-out and reorganization to get rid of dried-up pens, unneeded supplies, and junk that tends to accumulate in and on a desk.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 electrostatic duster
  • 1 vacuum with hose or hand-held vacuum
  • 2 trash cans
  • 3 cardboard boxes or plastic bins
  • 2 microfiber cloth
  • 1 small, soft-bristled brush


  • 1 container disinfecting wipes
  • 1 disposable electrostatic duster (optional)
  • 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
  • 1 bottle isopropyl alcohol


Overhead view of materials needed to clean a desk

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Clean Your Desk

  1. Empty the Desk

    It is impossible to clean a desk that is covered with clutter or has drawers that are overflowing. Use sticky notes to label three boxes: Keep, Trash, Recycle. Add a fourth box if you have items that can be donated to a charitable organization. Clear the desktop and empty the interior storage as you sort and declutter.

    Turn off and remove electronic equipment from the desktop, if possible, and set it aside.

    An emptied-out desk

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Sort and Declutter

    Assess everything that you have removed from your desktop and the desk drawers. Sort through each stack of papers and recycle, shred, or file them as appropriate. Take a look at the decorative objects like family photos and knick-knacks. Be selective and keep only what you use or treasure.

    Check office supplies and discard or donate all those that are no longer functional or needed.

    View of boxes for sorting desk clutter

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Remove Dust

    Now that the desktop is clear and the interior storage is empty, remove dust from the desk. Electrostatic dusters capture the dust and are safe to use on all surfaces including electronics. Don't forget to dust behind the desk if it is against a wall and equipment cords. For drawers, use a vacuum with a hose and crevice attachment or a hand-held vacuum.


    While you have the vacuum out, use the upholstery brush to remove dust and crumbs from your desk chair.

    Dusting the surface of a desk

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Clean and Disinfect Desk Surfaces

    Desks that are made from laminate or engineered wood can be cleaned with a disinfecting wipe. Wipe down the surface and allow it to air dry. Repeat the process for drawer interiors, trays, and hardware pulls.

    For wood desks, use cleaners designated for wood surfaces or a microfiber cloth dipped in a mild soapy solution. Wring the cloth until it is just damp and wipe the desktop following the grain of the wood. Finish by drying with a microfiber cloth.

    If your desktop is covered with glass, use a glass cleaner or isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints, smudges, and streaks.


    If you have ink stains on your desk, follow these tips to remove them from wood and hard plastic surfaces.

    Disinfecting the desk surface

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Organize Your Desk Drawers and Supplies

    Now that the drawers are clean and supplies are sorted, return them to your desk. Use small organizing bins or trays to keep supplies neat and easy to find.

    Organizing desk supplies

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  6. Dust and Clean Electronic Equipment

    Before you place your computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, mousepad, earbuds, remotes, or laptop back on your desk, they should be dusted and cleaned. By using the correct cleaning products, you can disinfect and clean surfaces without damaging them.

    Dusting a computer monitor

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  7. Clean Decorative Items

    If you have photos or decorative items on your desk, dust them well. Be sure plants have a saucer to catch any drips.

    Dusting off decorative figurines

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Tips to Keep Your Home Desk Clean

  • Straighten and declutter your desktop after every use.
  • Keep a trash can and recycling bin handy to control clutter.
  • Do not eat or drink at your desk. If you do, clean spills and remove crumbs immediately.
  • Remove dust weekly.
  • Organize cords and use trays to corral small electronics and office supplies in drawers.