How to Clean Your Computer Physically – Preventing Against Dirt and Dust

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As reliable as laptop or desktop computers may be, eventually they will get dirty and dusty – two things that can affect not only how your machine runs but also its lifespan. Ensuring your computer is clean and as dirt-free as possible is something any owner can accomplish. Here are some tips on how to physically clean your computer. 

General Cleaning

Cleaning your computer or laptop will generally consist of two parts: cleaning the outside and cleaning the inside. While this does not imply that you’ll be taking your machine apart piece by piece to clean the inside, you should be cleaning or “dusting” the inside of the machine. The best way to get your computer clean and get rid of all the dust is with compressed air. Compressed air is relatively inexpensive and can really get the job done quickly and easily. 

Holding the compressed air can a few inches away from the computer, point it at the air vents and blow. Start slowly and gradually increase intensity until dust no longer comes out of the vents. Make sure you’re actually blowing the dust out and not further into the computer. While you may be tempted to take a few screws out of the machine and get to the real insides of the computer, avoid that temptation and leave that to the professionals. 

Regardless of how neat and orderly you may think you are around your computer or laptop, it’s going to get smudged and dirty. This is even more so if you have a touch screen, which many people now choose. Cleaning the outside of your computer is just a matter of wiping down the screen or monitor. Once again, always make sure the computer is completely turned off. 

You can use either Windex window cleaner or a mixture of 50/50 water and rubbing alcohol. Avoid spraying the cleaners directly on the screen or monitor. Spray them on a cotton cloth or paper towel, making sure to not spray on too much. You want the cloth slightly damp but not so wet that it’s dripping down the screen. Gently wipe the screen with the damp cloth or towel. If there are any specific dirty spots, lightly scrub until clean. 

Keyboards always seem to get dirty the quickest, probably since they’re used the most. Compressed air is about the only thing I recommend to clean the keyboard. You’ll be amazed at how much dust and dirt will come flying out with just one spray. You can also gently wipe the keys off with the same damp cloth you’d use on the monitor. 

Do not try to remove the keys to wash underneath them. There is too much risk of breaking them. This can also happen if you over-spray with compressed air. Swabs dampened with water or rubbing alcohol can be very effective in cleaning keyboards and other small computer parts. Try to use lint-free swabs. 

How Often Your Computer Needs to Be Cleaned

The frequency in which your computer needs to be cleaned can be anywhere from once a month to once a year. The following three factors can determine how often they should be cleaned. 

Where is the computer located? If the computer or laptop is kept in a home, school or clean office environment, for instance, it may only need to be cleaned every nine or ten months. On the other hand, computers located in a dusty warehouse may require a monthly cleaning.
In what type of environment is the computer located? A computer’s surroundings play as much a part in determining how often it needs cleaning as its location. As surprising as this may be, a computer that’s kept on a desk won’t get dirty or dusty as quickly as one that’s kept on the floor. Things contributing to dirty computers include dogs and cats; smoking near the computer; and having the computer in a carpeted room. Eating or drinking near a computer can increase the need for cleaning because there is risk of spilling something on the machine. 
Who is using the computer? While this may seem hard to believe, but some people are just harder on equipment than others are. Children younger than ten are typically considered the highest risk in terms of getting a computer dirty with teenagers next in order. Adults, on the other hand, are usually more careful around their computers or laptops. 

If several of the above factor apply to you and your computer, consider cleaning it more often. The amount of dust you see or are able to blow out of the machine can determine if it needed cleaning. Make note of when the last time it was cleaned, and you’ll have a guideline of how often to clean it. 

If your computer seems to be running slower than usual or it appears hot by the vents, you can assume it’s dirty and in need of cleaning. Cleaning the computer may not completely solve the problem, but it’s a good place to start. 

General Cleaning Tips

Below are some tips and “dos” and “don’ts” for cleaning your computer, computer parts and similar equipment as well as ideas for keeping your computer as clean as possible. 

1. Do not vacuum any parts inside the computer. While you may vacuum the floor around the computer, do NOT vacuum the interior parts. You not only risk vacuuming up loose parts, but the vacuum cleaner could initiate static electricity, which can harm the computer. 
2. Make sure to not disconnect cables and wires from the back of the computer. If it’s necessary, pay close attention to where the cables go. 
3. Take caution that you don’t accidentally move controls or knobs while cleaning the machine. 
4. While cleaning or dusting the fans, be sure to hold the fans to keep the blades from moving. Consider using compressed air to clean the fans. 
5. Avoid smoking near the computer.
6. Avoid eating or drinking near the computer.