Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Cleaning Text.

Cleaning Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 15, 2014)


Excel includes an interesting worksheet function whose duty it is to make sure that your text is "clean." By this, Excel means that your text contains only printable characters. Thus, the function removes certain non-printable characters and control codes from your text. The syntax is rather simple, as follows:


All you need to do is include the text, or a reference to a cell that contains text. In doing some testing, it appears that the function removes anything with an ANSI value of 1 through 31, as well as the values 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157.

So why would you use the CLEAN function? If you import information from some mainframe or on-line services, the non-printable codes could be interspersed in the information you receive. This can cause problems printing or viewing the information correctly. CLEAN can help rectify those problems.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10350) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Cleaning Text.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five more than 3?

2014-11-18 06:02:33

Willy Vanhaelen

@ Micky

These are printable characters so CLEAN must leave them untouched.

Alt+0254 is the lower case thorn letter: þ still used in Icelandic alphabet (see

Alt+0160 is a non breaking space, often used in HTML, it prints like a space.

2014-11-17 11:36:49

Michael (Micky) Avidan

The TWO most frequent non-printable characters I have met are:
Alt+0254 and: Alt+0160.
If I recall correctly - the CLEAN function does not even "tickles" them.
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)

2014-11-16 06:53:13

Willy Vanhaelen

Trim acts on spaces: character 32.
Clean removes non printable characters.
See Help for more details.

2014-11-15 23:54:04


what is the difference betwen TRIM and CLEAN

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