Cleaning is an essential part of routine computer maintenance. Keeping your computer’s intake and exhaust vents clear prevents overheating problems, while cleaning the monitor ensures that you see clear images and text to avoid eyestrain. If you have allergies, cleaning the keyboard and mouse or touchpad may help you avoid flare-ups due to dust and other allergens. Giving your computer a thorough cleaning requires just a few minutes. The tools needed to do the job are affordable and readily available.
Intake and Exhaust Vents
A can of compressed air with a long, thin tube connected to the nozzle is one of the most useful tools for removing dust from a computer’s intake and exhaust vents. If a vent is clogged with dust, place the end of the tube near the dust and use short, controlled bursts of air until the vent is clear. Check your computer’s vents periodically and clean them in this fashion as needed. When you aren’t using compressed air, store the cans away from extreme heat or cold.
If you have a desktop computer placed on the floor, contaminants may occasionally get inside the computer and collect on the internal components. This is particularly likely if you smoke or own pets. Once a year — or more frequently in especially dusty households — shut the computer down, disconnect all cables and open the computer’s case to check for dust. You can remove dust quickly with a small vacuum designed for cleaning electronics. Avoid using a standard room vacuum because too much suction can dislodge the solder points and loosen components inside your computer, causing instability or other damage. A room vacuum may also generate a static charge that could damage the computer. Do not attempt to clean the inside of your computer’s power supply, as a power supply can store a lethal charge of electricity even when the computer is turned off. If the power supply is extremely dirty, it must be replaced. Store the vacuum in its box or case when you aren’t using it and replace the bag or filter as indicated by the manual.
Many computer monitors have coatings that resist glare, keeping text readable when the computer is used near a window on a bright day. Because ammonia can remove anti-glare coatings, you should never use a household window cleaner on your computer’s monitor. Instead, use a glass cleaner designed for electronics. You can purchase glass cleaner in a bottle and spray a microfiber cloth before gently wiping the dust from the monitor, or buy a package of moistened, individually wrapped towels. If you use a microfiber cloth, wash it after each use as trapped dust can scratch your monitor. Moistened towels should be kept sealed to prevent the cleaning liquid from evaporating. Clean your computer’s monitor whenever you begin to see dust on the screen.
Mouse and Keyboard
Keyboards can be difficult to clean because the spaces between the keys are difficult to reach. An electronics vacuum with a crevasse attachment can reach these spaces. Alternatively, clean the tops and sides of the keys using cotton swabs moistened with rubbing alcohol. Avoid using harsh solvents to clean your keyboard, as such solvents can strip the letters from the keys. Cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol can also remove dust, fingerprints and other stains from your computer’s mouse or touchpad.