Unscrewing the Unscrewable: A Handy Guide to Removing Stripped Laptop Screws


When it comes to maintaining and repairing laptops, properly handling screws is crucial to ensuring a safe and successful result. A common problem faced by both amateur and experienced technicians alike is dealing with stripped laptop screws. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to remove stripped laptop screws, covering various techniques, tools required, assessing the situation, and essential safety precautions. By the end of this guide, you will be more equipped to confidently tackle laptop maintenance tasks and prevent stripped screws from becoming a hindrance in future repairs.

Assessing the situation

Determining the severity of the stripped screw

Before attempting to remove a stripped screw, you must first assess the severity of the damage. The more severely damaged a screw is, the more difficult it will be to remove. Assess the condition of the screw and determine whether a less invasive technique may be successful or whether more drastic measures are required.

Tools needed for various techniques

Compare the tools needed for each technique to what you already have in your possession. Ensure that you have the needed tools for your chosen technique before beginning, as improvising with ill-suited tools might lead to further damage, rendering the screw even more challenging to remove.

Safety precautions when dealing with laptop components

Always exercise caution when dealing with laptop components. Be sure to power down the laptop, unplug the charger, and remove the battery when applicable. Use a static wrist strap to prevent electrostatic discharge damage to the laptop’s internal components.

Tape and screwdriver technique

Appropriate tape types for this technique

Transparent adhesive tape, such as clear packing tape or scotch tape, is most suitable for this technique. Ensure that the tape is new and not crumpled, as this might affect the grip between the screwdriver and screw.

Proper application of tape to the screwdriver

Cut a small piece of tape and stick it to the tip of the screwdriver. Ensure that both the screwdriver tip and the tape adhere to the contours of the screw head, thereby creating a secure connection.

Methods for generating enough force to remove the stripped screw

Firmly grip the screwdriver while pressing down onto the screw. Carefully attempt to turn the screw counterclockwise while maintaining pressure on the screw to create enough force for the tape to grip the stripped laptop screw and remove it.

Rubber band technique

Choosing the right type of rubber band

Select a rubber band with a flat, wide surface area and good elasticity. Too thick or rigid a rubber band may not provide the proper grip necessary to successfully remove the stripped laptop screw.

Positioning the rubber band on the stripped screw

Place the rubber band on top of the stripped screw, ensuring that it covers the screw head entirely. Maintain tension in the rubber band to ensure maximum grip.

Applying pressure and turning to remove the screw

Firmly press the screwdriver down on the rubber band and turn counterclockwise. The rubber band should grip the stripped laptop screw, allowing it to be removed without causing any further damage to the screw head.

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Using pliers or specialized screw extraction tools

Selecting the right tool for the job

Certain types of pliers, such as needle-nose pliers or precision pliers, may provide enough grip to remove stripped laptop screws. Alternatively, specialized screw extraction tools can be purchased, specifically designed for this purpose.

Properly gripping the screw with the tool

Ensure that the tool is in a stable position and that it securely grips the outer edge of the stripped screw. Avoid applying too much pressure, as this can cause further damage to the screw head or surrounding components.

Applying a gentle, steady force to remove the stripped screw

While maintaining a firm grip with the tool, turn the screw counterclockwise with gentle, steady force. It may take a few attempts to loosen the stripped laptop screw, but patience and persistence are key in this situation.

Drilling out the stripped screw

Necessary tools and materials for this technique

For this method, you will need a power drill, a center punch, a left-handed drill bit, and protective eyewear, as well as a steady hand.

Determining the appropriate drill bit size

Select a left-handed drill bit slightly smaller than the screw’s diameter to ensure that it will not damage the surrounding threads or components.

Operating the drill in a controlled manner to avoid further damage

Begin by using the center punch to create an indentation in the center of the screw head to guide the drill bit. While wearing protective eyewear, carefully drill a small hole into the screw head. The left-handed rotation of the drill bit should help loosen the stripped laptop screw, making it easier to remove.

Trying alternative techniques

Left-handed drill bit method

Similar to the drilling technique mentioned above, the left-handed drill bit can be used to create a hole in the screw head, causing it to loosen and become easier to remove.

Hammer and screwdriver method

In cases where the screw head is only slightly damaged, gently tapping the screwdriver with a hammer while turning it counterclockwise can provide enough force to remove the stripped laptop screw.

Using a flathead screwdriver for extra leverage

A flathead screwdriver can be used to apply additional pressure on the screw head, rendering the removal process easier. However, be sure to hold the screwdriver parallel to the head to prevent further damage.

Preventing future stripped screws

Appropriate screwdriver selection for laptops

Always use the correct type and size of screwdriver when working with laptop screws. This will ensure proper torque and prevent the screw head from becoming stripped.

Proper screw installation techniques

When installing laptop screws, do so with gentle pressure, avoiding overtightening. This makes them easier to remove and prevents stripping during future maintenance or repairs.

Maintenance tips to avoid stripping screws over time

Conduct frequent hardware inspections and clean your laptop regularly to prevent dust buildup and corrosion, which can lead to difficulty in removing screws and, ultimately, stripped screws.


Dealing with stripped laptop screws can be a frustrating but surmountable challenge with the right approach and techniques. This guide has provided valuable insight on how to remove stripped laptop screws effectively while also suggesting preventive measures to avoid encountering them in future repairs. It’s essential to tackle these issues with patience, care, and the right tools, allowing you to overcome these obstacles with confidence.

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What causes laptop screws to become stripped?

A screw can become stripped due to various factors, including using the wrong type or size of screwdriver, overtightening during installation, corrosion, or prolonged wear and tear.

What should I do if none of the mentioned techniques work?

If none of the techniques discussed in this guide are successful, it may be best to seek professional assistance from a technician or authorized service center to prevent further damage to your laptop.

Can I reuse a stripped laptop screw after removal?

While it may be technically possible to reuse a stripped screw, it is not recommended. Replace it with a new screw to ensure a secure and safe connection for your laptop’s components.

How do I know which technique is best for my situation?

Begin with the least invasive methods, such as the tape and screwdriver technique or the rubber band method, and work your way through the available techniques based on the severity of the stripped screw and your confidence and experience with the respective tools.

Can I damage my laptop by attempting to remove a stripped screw?

While there is some risk involved in attempting to remove a stripped laptop screw, taking every precaution, including following the techniques outlined in this guide, can significantly minimize the risk. However, if in doubt or uncertain about a particular technique, seek professional assistance.

How can I find the right replacement screws for my laptop?

Refer to your laptop’s user manual or manufacturer website for information on the appropriate screw types and sizes needed for your specific laptop model.

What can happen if I continue to use my laptop with a stripped screw?

While a single stripped laptop screw may not cause immediate issues, it may impact the laptop’s overall integrity and stability over time, leading to potential damage or component malfunctions. It’s essential to address a stripped laptop screw as soon as possible to ensure the continued safe operation of your laptop.

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