How to Powerwash a Chromebook (Factory Reset Chromebook)

How to Powerwash a Chromebook

Those who have previously been in the Android operating system (OS) ecosystem for quite some time might notice that Android, or Linux-based system in general, really, especially nowadays rarely needs any extra maintenance compared to, like, the most used OS in the computers or laptops landscape where after some time it felt like its performance kind of degrading and feel a little sluggish.

Whether it’s because of a virus or generally just so many old files piling up over time, you will notice that it performs not as great as when you first bought it. And most of the time, you’d end up being suggested to “factory reset” it and most likely it somehow just solved the issueー until it happened again sometime in the future.

However, what if we tell you that Google has already developed an OS that is essentially an Android for computers and laptops? Shouldn’t that also solve the vulnerability issue that the other popular OS has been plaguing around?

Yes, this Android OS for computers is called ChromeOS and has been around for around 11 years now, though it’s just recently that Google made an attempt to further push this OS to the mainstream market by partnering up with mostly a laptop manufacturer and branding them as a Chromebook.

While it is highly likely that you won’t need to be concerned with degrading performance while using ChromeOS, there might be a chance that you need to perform a reset for your Chromebook, when trying to resell your device for example.

Therefore, here’s our guide on how to powerwash a Chromebook.

Wait, powerwash?

As weird as the name may sound, it is the name that Google gives to its factory reset feature in ChromeOS. Thus, please do not actually try to point a power washer to your Chromebook or ChromeOS-powered computers for whatever reason as electronics will break with water.

Before performing a factory reset Chromebook, make sure that you have backed up any important files from your device as the Powerwash feature will wipe a Chromebook to its clean initial state just like when you purchase them brand new.

There are plenty of ways to back up your files from your device such as using an external hard drive or uploading them to cloud services such as Google Drive. Each Google account comes with 15 GB of storage and can be upgraded to 100 GB and even up to 2TB by subscribing to Google One.

How to execute ChromeOS’s Powerwash feature

There are two ways to powerwash (factory reset) your device. Both options will work out the same therefore feel free to choose whichever method suits you best. 

First method:

  • Sign out of your Chromebook
  • Press and hold keys: CTRL + ALT + Shift + R
  • Select Restart
  • A box should appear. Select Powerwash then Continue

How to Powerwash a Chromebook

After restarting, you should see your ChromeOS boots up as if it was new and will ask you to put in your Google account credential.

Second method:

  • When logged in on your Chromebook, click the status area in the bottom right-hand side corner where you should see your profile icon
  • A small box should pop up. Select Settings then click Show Advanced settings at the bottom of the page
  • On the Advanced settings tab, scroll down until you find the Powerwash section and click the icon
  • A window should open and then click Restart

How to Powerwash a Chromebook

Do note that both methods will log you off from your Chromebook or computers and if you plan to resell them, please refrain from logging back into your Google account on the device as the ChromeOS will attempt to resync your accountー which deviates the purpose of taking the step to Powerwash your device.

Hard reset Chromebook

Another factory reset feature that ChromeOS includes is a hard reset. Unlike the traditional factory reset, this method will only restart your Chromebook hardware such as its keyboard, touchpad, and cameras and also might delete some files in your download folder. 

To put it simply, the feature will attempt to reboot the hardware as well as do a soft rollback.

A hard reset feature could be useful if you notice that your Chromebook seems to be having an issue and you have tried various other troubleshooting and it still persists.

How to perform a hard reset on Chromebook

Some Chromebooks from different brands or series may have their own unique combination to hard reset their device. Therefore, if you attempted this method and are still unable to hard reset the device, you can try looking up the steps specified on that brand and model.

The method below is one that Google default to which should work in almost Chromebook including to reset HP Chromebook.

  • Turn off your Chromebook
  • Press and hold the Refresh key and tap the Power button
  • When the Chromebook starts up, release the Refresh key

An additional step of plugging in your Chromebook with the AC adapter (laptop charger) after turning off the device might be needed if your Chromebook still fails to hard reset after following the steps above.

Bottom line

ChromeOS, Google’s desktop version of Android offers two ways to reset your device. The first one is through its feature called “Powerwash” while the second one is through a hard reset.

The Powerwash feature is basically a factory reset where it will roll back the device to its original out-of-the-box state. On the other hand, a hard reset will attempt to restart the connected hardware in your device as well as perform a soft rollback with the hope that it could fix the issue.

Do note that by executing Powerwash, it will reset the entire OS and will require users to reinput their Google account credentials. If you are planning on reselling the device, do not log in as it could resync your data to your Chromebook.

As Powerwash also wipes all the data inside the Chromebook, it is highly recommended to make backup copies of all the important files inside the device before progressing.


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