Chemical cleaning has been used for several decades as a surface preparation technique for diffusion bonding. Here we present a theoretical investigation that examines the effect of changes in the process parameters when a laser is used as an alternative to chemical cleaning for surface contaminant removal. Here a theoretical model is described that includes laser beam attenuation in the plasma plume and its effect on evaporation of the material. Using the model, a comprehensive analysis of the effect of different fluences and other parameters for a KrF Excimer laser is presented. Calculations were carried out for a range of peak fluxes from below the ablation threshold to fluxes of the order of 9 x 1012 W/m2. The predicted effects on evaporation, melt depth and surface temperature are reported, illustrated by a number of surface topographic images from preliminary experiments. Finally, optimal parameters for cleaning according to the theoretical investigation are proposed.