Surfshark CleanWeb Review 2023: A Budget Ad Blocker With VPN Power

Surfshark CleanWeb promises to block ads everywhere forever. But can this budget ad blocker deliver?
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Many virtual private networks (VPNs) offer ad blocking features, but Surfshark CleanWeb is a step above the rest. When enabled, it blocks ads, trackers, and malware at the DNS level, meaning it works across all apps and devices without any pesky pop-ups or interruptions.

In our review, we look deeper at Surfshark CleanWeb’s capabilities and pricing to help you determine if this ad blocker is right for you. Let’s get started.

Surfshark is also one of our recommended best VPNs thanks to its security features like multi-hop and a kill switch, the ability to unblock Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu, and thousands of server locations. Check it out in our full Surfshark VPN review.

In this article
Surfshark CleanWeb review at a glance
Surfshark CleanWeb features
Our experience with Surfshark CleanWeb
Surfshark CleanWeb test results
Surfshark CleanWeb customer support
Surfshark CleanWeb prices and subscriptions
Surfshark CleanWeb alternatives
Surfshark CleanWeb FAQs
Bottom line: Is Surfshark CleanWeb good?

Surfshark CleanWeb review at a glance

Price $2.49–$12.95/mo
Max # of devices supported Unlimited
Malware scans Yes
Firewall No
Phishing protection Yes
Ad blocker Yes
Adblock Tester score 100/100
Cover Your Tracks score 2/3
Compatibility Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, FireTV, Chrome, Firefox, Edge
Learn more Get Surfshark with CleanWeb
Prices as of 07/14/2023.

Surfshark CleanWeb pros and cons

  • Low cost for high value
  • Unlimited devices to use simultaneously
  • CleanWeb 2.0 blocks all ads, including YouTube ads
  • Does not completely hide your digital fingerprint
  • Split tunneling and whitelisting are unavailable on iOS
  • Based in The Netherlands, which is part of the 9 Eyes Alliance

Surfshark CleanWeb features

Surfshark CleanWeb is a powerful ad blocker that can help you protect your privacy and security. It blocks malicious ads and websites, trackers, pop-ups, banners, and video ads. It's also easy to use — it’s built-in to the Surfshark VPN, so you can be sure your browsing is always protected.

Surfshark CleanWeb is available as a browser extension and an application. Here’s what CleanWeb can do:

  • Block ads to improve browsing speeds and save bandwidth
  • Includes a bypass list for allowing ads on specific websites
  • Enabled automatically in browser extensions, manual activation required in apps
  • Bundled automatically with a Surfshark VPN subscription
  • Displays the number of blocked ads, trackers, and malware on websites
  • Protects against phishing attempts
  • Prevent tracking and targeted ads with Surfshark Search
  • Includes a cookie pop-up blocker to manage consent requests

We confirmed from their customer support that CleanWeb blocks only malicious ads. CleanWeb 2.0, its upgraded version, blocks all ads.

If you are looking for antivirus, real-time protection, or VPN features, Surfshark has an all-in-one product called Surfshark One that combines these things in a single solution. You can also get them individually.

Surfshark CleanWeb packs a punch at an affordable price. CleanWeb is automatically included with all Surfshark VPN plans at no extra cost. Read our Surfshark VPN review to learn more about how this VPN app hides your IP address to protect you during online activities like browsing, streaming, and torrenting.

CleanWeb vs. CleanWeb 2.0

CleanWeb is Surfshark's ad blocking feature that blocks browser ads and banners within the Surfshark app and VPN connection. It’s compatible with iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and FireTV devices. It also works through the Surfshark app.

CleanWeb 2.0 is an updated version of Surfshark's ad and malware-blocking feature, available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Here are CleanWeb 2.0’s key features:

  • Ad blocker: CleanWeb removes ads from the websites you visit, providing a cleaner browsing experience. It even blocks annoying video ads on popular streaming platforms.
  • Pop-up blocker: Say goodbye to those frustrating cookie pop-ups. CleanWeb blocks these notifications, eliminating the need to agree or interact with them.
  • Data breach alert: This feature keeps you informed about the security of the websites you visit. CleanWeb alerts you if a website has had any data breaches in the past, giving you a warning to be cautious with your personal information.
  • Malware alert: With CleanWeb's malware alert, you get protection against malicious website activities. It actively monitors downloads and other potentially harmful actions, notifying you if any malware is detected.

Surfshark CleanWeb includes a data breach alert that warns you if any sites you visit were involved in a data breach in the past.

You can easily turn these features on or off according to your preferences. Simply go to the CleanWeb settings in the CleanWeb 2.0 browser extension and find individual toggles for each feature. The Surfshark app has only a single CleanWeb toggle under Settings, so you cannot customize it like you can in the browser.

Don’t have a VPN? No worries. You can use the CleanWeb browser extension without a VPN connection. However, when using the Surfshark app, a VPN connection is required for CleanWeb to function.

Phishing protection

CleanWeb effectively prevents phishing and spam by automatically detecting and blocking websites. CleanWeb’s anti-phishing feature is automatically enabled by default, requiring no additional settings. By enabling the feature, you’re protected while using Surfshark VPN.


As of now, there is no firewall option with Surfshark CleanWeb.

Real-time protection

CleanWeb doesn’t offer real-time protection on its own. Customer support chats revealed that its Surfshark Antivirus provides real-time protection. This includes protecting your web browsing, emails, and apps by blocking harmful content. It identifies and filters out malware sources, malicious websites, and harmful scripts.

Surfshark Antivirus also defends against various types of malware, including viruses, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and adware. It continuously updates its protection and scans for emerging threats, ensuring a safe online experience across different platforms.

We found Surfshark’s antivirus program to be a well-rounded security suite with lots of features. It comes as part of the Surfshark One bundle, so you’ll also get the VPN and CleanWeb. Read our Surfshark Antivirus review for more info.

Tracker and ad blocker

CleanWeb doesn’t include whitelisting or blacklisting capabilities by itself. If you want to whitelist certain sites to see ads, use the VPN’s Bypasser feature. (This is the same as split tunneling.)

This feature allows you to choose which applications route through the VPN. For example, this feature can be helpful when your bank must verify your location. The only downside? Bypasser is available only for Android and Windows, leaving out Apple users.

Surfshark VPN

One of our top-rated VPNs after hours of hands-on testing, Surfshark encrypts your internet connection so no one (and nothing) can snoop on your web activities. This is especially important if you use a public internet connection like the Wi-Fi at Starbucks or the airport.

The VPN itself stands out for a few reasons:

  • 3,000+ VPN servers to choose from in locations like Germany, India, Australia, and Canada
  • A no-logs policy that means Surfshark doesn't even collect your data — this was verified by an independent audit agency, Deloitte
  • You can connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time
  • Didn't significantly slow down our download speeds or upload speeds during testing (some reduced speed is expected)
  • Apps for smart TVs, routers, gaming consoles, and more
  • Accepts multiple forms of payment, including cryptocurrency

Our experience with Surfshark CleanWeb

For testing, our team downloaded the Surfshark app on a 2018 Macbook Pro. The setup was relatively easy overall and the interface was very intuitive. If you’re someone who isn’t super familiar with how VPNs or ad blockers work, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by CleanWeb’s simple design.

One thing we loved during our testing was that there were no more ads. Really! This ad blocker gave us a 100% ad-free experience when watching a podcast interview on YouTube. The catch here is that it’s hard to tell when it’s on. What we mean is the only way we know that CleanWeb is actually “on” is when the toggles say on.

There isn’t a signal that says it is on. The only evidence that CleanWeb is working is if you don’t see any ads. It may not be a big deal for some people, but it’s worth noting.

The only problem during setup was that the CleanWeb feature needed to be more obvious. CleanWeb hides in the VPN settings within the Surfshark app when you first go to turn this feature on.

CleanWeb hides in the Surfshark VPN settings — we wish it was more obvious when this was toggled on or off.

You won’t know where the toggles are or if it’s working unless you go to “Settings” and then “CleanWeb” settings. If you find it once though, you’ll know where to go. Customer support let us know that CleanWeb is automatically turned on with the browser extension.

Surfshark CleanWeb test results

We put Surfshark CleanWeb to the test to see how well it works. We checked whether it blocked different types of ads as well as how well it blocked tracking ads and protected against browser fingerprinting. Lastly, we tested CleanWeb on YouTube ads. Below are our scores.

Surfshark CleanWeb ad blocker scores

AdBlock Tester Cover Your Tracks
Surfshark CleanWeb score 100/100 2/3
Test results as of 07/14/2023.

For our testing tools, we use the AdBlock Tester and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF's) Cover Your Tracks. AdBlock Tester checks if CleanWeb effectively blocks different ads and tracking elements, while Cover Your Tracks assesses browser settings to protect against tracking techniques. These tests evaluated CleanWeb's performance in blocking ads, preventing tracking, and safeguarding user privacy.

Surfshark CleanWeb scored 100/100 on AdBlock Tester, meaning it blocked all ads and tracking scripts.

Does Surfshark CleanWeb block YouTube ads?

Our tests confirm that Surfshark CleanWeb does not block YouTube ads on mobile apps and browsers. CleanWeb 2.0 does block YouTube ads, however.

The CleanWeb 2.0 browser extension successfully blocked YouTube ads.

Both the browser extension and the app successfully blocked tracking ads and invisible trackers, but not the digital fingerprint.

A digital fingerprint is a unique set of characteristics that identify a user, their browser, and their hardware setup. It includes necessary information for accessing websites and seemingly unimportant data collected by tracking scripts. Tracking sites combine these pieces to create a unique picture, or "fingerprint," of your device.

As far as CleanWeb’s antivirus side, you should rely on it only for malware protection if you use it alongside Surfshark Antivirus. This is a separate offering from Surfshark that can be purchased separately.

We also tested Surfshark VPN for WebRTC and DNS leaks, which can leave your personal info out in the open for hackers to grab. Thankfully, Surfshark passed the leak tests, and is a reliable way to secure your internet access.

Surfshark CleanWeb customer support

Surfshark CleanWeb provides various customer support options:

  • 24/7 live chat
  • Knowledge base
  • Email

On the downside, Surfshark does not offer phone support as part of its customer service offering.

For personalized assistance, Surfshark's 24/7 live chat support is 10/10. We recently contacted them with questions about configuring CleanWeb. We immediately connected with an agent and they were professional and quick to answer. They provided clear instructions and guided us through the process step by step.

Thanks to their assistance, we quickly and efficiently resolved our issues. Surfshark is doing something right in the customer service category!

Surfshark CleanWeb prices and subscriptions

Surfshark VPN + CleanWeb offers three subscription plans with different starting costs at very reasonable prices:

  • 1-month subscription for $12.95/mo
  • 12-month subscription for $3.99/mo
  • 24-month subscription for $2.49/mo

(Remember, if you want to buy CleanWeb or CleanWeb 2.0, you buy the VPN, since it comes bundled automatically.)

When compared to NordVPN, Surfshark's 24-month plan is significantly more affordable. Surfshark also allows unlimited device connections, making it a budget-friendly choice if you have multiple devices.

Compared to ExpressVPN, Surfshark's pricing is notably lower. With similar monthly costs but a considerably cheaper annual rate, Surfshark provides excellent value. It features servers in 100 countries, 24/7 customer support, ad and malware blocking, split tunneling, and impressive streaming capabilities that allow you to unblock Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Whether you opt for the 12-month or 24-month plan, Surfshark provides excellent value, making it a reliable and cost-effective choice for those needing a dependable and budget-friendly VPN service.

Surfshark VPN with CleanWeb cost

Plan 1 Month 12 Months 24 Months
Price per month $12.95/mo $3.99/mo $2.49/mo
Price per year $155.40/yr $47.88/yr $29.88/yr ($59.76 billed every 2 yrs)
Learn more View Plan View Plan View Plan
Prices as of 07/14/2023.

If you're not happy with your purchase, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and a refund within 30 days.

Read Our Surfshark Review

Surfshark CleanWeb alternatives

Looking for options besides Surfshark CleanWeb? Consider these alternatives:

  • NordVPN Threat Protection: NordVPN offers a secure VPN and protection against online threats to keep your browsing experience safe. It’s one of our recommended best VPN providers, thanks to an extensive server network, excellent speed test results, and a headquarters in Panama.

    Get NordVPN | Read NordVPN Review | Read NordVPN Threat Protection Review
  • TotalAV: Get antivirus protection and various security features to protect your devices from online dangers. TotalAV is one of our favorite antivirus programs thanks to multiple security features and excellent protection scores.

    Get TotalAV | Read TotalAV Review
  • Total Adblock: Block annoying ads while browsing the internet for a clutter-free and enjoyable online experience. Made by TotalAV, Total Adblock continues the trend of strong security.

    Get Total Adblock | Read Total Adblock Review

Surfshark CleanWeb FAQs


Does Surfshark CleanWeb work?

Surfshark CleanWeb is an effective ad blocker that blocks malicious website ads successfully. Its CleanWeb 2.0 version blocks all ads, benign and bad. It’s user-friendly, and we hardly noticed any lag.

The product’s only major negative is that it didn’t completely hide our digital fingerprint.


Does Surfshark CleanWeb block YouTube ads?

We confirmed with Surfshark’s customer support team that the CleanWeb feature on the Surfshark VPN app blocks only harmful ads and phishing attempts. Using CleanWeb 2.0 in the Surfshark browser extension can specifically block YouTube ads.

We tested this and it’s true. CleanWeb does not block YouTube ads, but CleanWeb 2.0 on the browser does. Make sure you use the browser extension of CleanWeb 2.0 if you want an ad-free viewing experience.


Is Surfshark safe and legit?

Based on Surfshark's privacy policy, which emphasizes its no-logs policy and limited data collection, it’s safe to use and protects your privacy. It also uses RAM-only servers, which means your data is never written to a physical drive.

However, it’s important to note that Surfshark is based in The Netherlands, part of the 9 Eyes Alliance. This raises concerns about potential cooperation with global surveillance programs. If you prioritize privacy, you may want to consider this aspect and make an informed decision based on your needs and risk tolerance.


Should I leave Surfshark on all the time?

To stay protected from ads and tracking while browsing, it's best to always keep Surfshark CleanWeb enabled. Using the Surfshark browser app and keeping CleanWeb enabled even when not using the VPN enhances its effectiveness. This way, you'll have consistent ad blocking and privacy features and can use the VPN only when you need extra security to encrypt your connection.

As for the VPN, there are reasons to leave Surfshark on all the time. If you live in a country with strong censorship, Surfshark’s NoBorders mode helps you access the internet while its camouflage mode can keep your internet activity hidden from even your internet service provider (ISP). Speaking of ISPs, Surfshark VPN can also prevent throttling, which happens when your internet provider slows your download speed.

Bottom line: Is Surfshark CleanWeb good?

Overall, we’re impressed by Surfshark CleanWeb’s effectiveness as an ad blocker. CleanWeb excels at seamlessly removing intrusive ads, trackers, and malware. One of CleanWeb 2.0’s standout features is that it blocks ads on streaming services. It really makes a difference, especially on sites like YouTube. Surfshark also has a beginner-friendly interface with responsive customer support, making it easy to set up and find answers fast.

If you’re looking for an affordable ad blocker solution that offers all-encompassing protection, Surfshark CleanWeb is worth considering. Surfshark CleanWeb 2.0 offers an ad blocker, pop-up blocker, data breach alert, and malware alert — all in one. It's a reliable tool that enhances your online experience by keeping unwanted ads at bay while safeguarding your digital security.

Interested in other ad blockers? Check out the best ad blocker apps that we recommend to keep pesky pop-ups at bay.

Limited-time offer: 85% off + 2 months free
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Author Details
Cheyenne Lightfoot is a freelance content writer specializing in the intersection between identity and access management and user privacy. As an account executive, she has helped small-to-medium-sized businesses prevent data breaches, safeguard sensitive information, and achieve compliance with passwordless multi-factor authentication software.