9 free malware cleanup tools for Windows PCs to remove adware, spyware, viruses

Make sure your PC is free of malware with these free tools

Has your Windows PC been infected with malware? Does it have irritating adware constantly popping up? Is spyware sending out personal information? You need these free cleanup tools.

A brilliant collection of 9 top tools to clean up malware infections on your Windows PC. They are all free, so start downloading!

All of the cleanup tools on test here are free of charge. If you suspect that some sort of malware has got into your Windows PC, you can run these security programs and scan the disk for signs of infections.

They don’t just find malware, they remove it too.

Some of them are portable tools that do not need installing and they are especially useful. For example, you could put them all onto a USB thumb drive. This could be your portable cleanup toolkit that you carry in your pocket and use to clean work PCs or friends and relatives’ PCs.

It is a good idea to download a few tools and store them somewhere just in case you need them.

Prevention is better than a cure

It must be stressed that these cleanup tools only remove malware. They do not prevent it from being installed. This is because they do not have real-time protection.

If ransomware gets onto your computer, it could encrypt your files before you get around to using these cleanup tools. If spyware or a Trojan infects your PC, it can send out your personal files or install more malware before you discover it.

Cleanup tools are very useful, but they do not prevent malware infecting your computer. You need real-time protection.

Get real-time protection with the paid version of Malwarebytes 3. It’s what I am currently using to protect my PC. That’s an affiliate link, but I only recommend things I use myself. It keeps my computer clean. It can be used on its own or with other security software as a second line of defence.


This software used to be called Malwarebytes Anti-malware, but it is now plain old Malwarebytes.

Malwarebytes Windows cleanup tool

Download the full program and it runs as a full program with all the features enabled for 14 days. After that, the premium features like real-time protection are disabled, but the cleanup features still work.

Malwarebytes detects and removes all types of malware and rootkits. You just run it, update the malware database and click the Scan button. If you want more control over what is scanned how thoroughly it scans, clicking the Scan button in the sidebar reveals three options.

Threat Scan is the most comprehensive, but it can take quite a long time. Custom Scan enables you to choose files and folders to check, such as the Downloads folder after downloading files. Hyperscan is the quickest and simplest scan. It can still take quite a few minutes, but it is quick enough to run every day.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit

One of the best features of Emsisoft Emergency Kit is that it does not need to be installed. The downloaded file simply unpacks itself and saves the files wherever you want it.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit cleans up malware on the PC

You can put it in a folder in the root of the disk, C:\EEK for example, or copy it to a USB flash drive, which could then be used on other PCs you want to clean up.

No menus are added because this is a portable application and you must open Explorer, go to the folder and click the program to run it.

The first time you choose to scan, there is an option to look for PUPs, potentially unwanted programs. You then choose between Quick Scan, Malware Scan and Custom Scan. The Malware Scan is really a full scan and is the most thorough option.

The scanning is unusually configurable and the number of processors and threads can be selected. There are also seven settings for the thread priority. This means you can configure it to run as fast as possible with maximum resources or use minimum resources so you can continue to work as it scans.

EEK can automatically shut down the computer when a scan is complete.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool is automatically downloaded and run during Windows updates. It isn’t obvious that Windows Update is scanning for viruses and cleaning your PC, but it does.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool for Windows

Microsoft cleans a huge number of PCs using this tool. You don’t need to wait for the next Windows Update though, you can download it and run it any time you want. It does not install and it just runs.

There are no menus and not much of an interface. Three options are presented - quick scan, full scan and custom scan. Choose your scan and sit back and watch the green progress bar creep along. That’s the most excitement you’ll get.

It probably targets the most common malware infections rather than everything that is possible. It’s fast.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner was such a popular cleanup tool that Malwarebytes bought it. It does not scan every file on the disk for viruses. Instead it mostly focuses on the browser, which is often the target of adware, PUPs and spyware.

AdwCleaner removes adware and browser toolbars

AdwCleaner is a small program and it does not need installing, so it can run from anywhere, such as a USB thumb drive.

It scans quite quickly and it produces a list of items that need cleaning. It is pretty strict and lists anything non-standard in the browser for deletion. Check what it selects for deletion before proceeding.

Panda Cloud Cleaner

Panda Cloud Cleaner claims that it ‘detects malware that traditional security solutions cannot detect’.

Panda Cloud Cleaner scans the PC for malware and removes it

It is a common claim and it is hard to check without pitting it against thousands of malware samples. Panda Security software usually does quite well in malware performance tests, so this lends confidence to the Cloud Cleaner.

There isn’t much in the way of features and when the program runs, there is just a button to start the scan. There is an option for a custom scan though. A full scan is actually quite fast and didn’t take long.

On the Advanced Tools menu is an option to kill all processes, which could be useful for stopping malware that is currently running.

ESET Online Scanner

ESET Online Scanner sounds like it is a tool that runs in the browser, but it is downloaded like all the others. It is only a very small program though.

ESET Online Scanner scans the PC for malware and removes it

When it runs, there is an option to detect potentially unwanted applications. If the advanced settings section is expanded ther are options to detect potentially unsafe or suspicious applications, use anti-stealth technology, and more.

The default setting is to scan everywhere, but you can easily change this to a custom scan by adding or removing locations. When scanning is complete, there is an option to remove all data, so it cleans up after itself, which is useful.

Norton Power Eraser

Norton has been producing security software for a very long time and it is popular with many users. Norton Power Eraser is a stand-alone tool to claims to remove the most deeply embedded and difficult to detect crimeware.

Norton Power Eraser cleans malware from infected computers

Like some of the other tools, it also claims to detect the things ordinary virus scanners cannot detect.

There is a large Scan button, but also an Unwanted Application Scan and Advanced Scans on the too. The advanced scans can be used to check Windows, or scan any version of Windows if you have installed multiple versions, such as on a dual boot setup.

Click the Scan button and Norton Power Eraser reboots the computer so that it can check for rootkits. Most of the other apps scan without rebooting. However, Norton claims to use more aggressive scanning techniques to find malware.

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool

Kaspersky is one of the best known security software providers and at the bottom of the downloads page is a collection of free tools. Scroll through these and there is a wide range of tools, Among them is Virus Removal Tool.

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool cleans up Windows PCs

The interface is straightforward and there is a large Start scan button. The default scan checks system memory, startup objects and boot sectors. Click the Change parameters link and the system drive can be added to the list of items to be checked.

The default scan is fast because it checks only places likely to hold malware and checking the whole drive takes longer, but is more thorough.

It’s useful if you need to check the computer is OK and you only have two minutes to spare.

Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool for PC

Bitdefender regularly beats many rival security programs in virus detection tests and it is a market leader. The company has a collection of free tools and free antivirus software.

Bitdefender free malware removal tool

There is Adware Removal Tool for PC and Bitdefender QuickScan. QuickScan was so quick I couldn’t be sure it was working.

Adware Removal Tool is a small download that requires no installation. It does not scan every file on the disk looking for malware and instead, it focuses on web browsers. It finds adware, toolbars and other things can can cause browsers and the internet to become very annoying to use.

There aren’t any features and the tool just scans. It is over in a couple of minutes and the results are shown.

More cleanup tools

This is not a complete list of cleanup tools for removing malware like viruses, adware, spyware, PUPs and other security threats. A complete list would be very long and some of the tools that claim to be malware cleanup or security tools are actually malware themselves.

While browsing the web you might see a warning that your computer is infected with this or that and it needs cleaning. Do not accept the virus scanner or cleanup tool offered.

They are almost always scammers with dodgy software that will do more harm than good. Sometimes they pretend to scan and produce false reports. Then they say they can clean up the malware for a fee.

The products listed above are the most used, most common and most reliable.

Remember that a malware cleanup tool is run AFTER your computer has been infected. The damage is already done and personal information might already have been sent to the malware owner or your files might be encrypted with ransomware. You need real-time protection.

Get real-time protection with the paid version of Malwarebytes 3. It’s what I am currently using to protect my PC. That’s an affiliate link, but I only recommend things I use myself. It keeps my computer clean. It can be used on its own or with other security software as a second line of defence.

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