The build-up of dust and dirt in your PC does more than simply make it look scruffy. Over time it can affect its reliability and performance too, as the dirt clogs up your airways and fans, your PC runs hotter and components wear out faster and struggle to perform at their best. In this tutorial, we’ll reveal ways of safely cleaning out the dirt to keep your PC running at its best for longer.
1. Assemble your toolkit
Start by putting together the tools you need for cleaning. Start with an anti-microbial cleaning cloth for cleaning the outside of your computer – PC World stocks an ESSENTIALS washable cloth that's sensibly priced. Hard-to-reach areas can be cleaned using a can of compressed air, like this FELLOWES Mini Turbo Air Duster. You may also need a small handheld vacuum cleaner and a small, soft brush that won’t shed its hairs easily – a make-up brush or soft paint brush is ideal.
2. Prepare to clean
Switch off your computer and unplug it from the mains before removing any other cables from the main chassis. Leave it a good 20-30 minutes to cool down, particularly if you plan to open it up to clean the inside. Place it on an accessible, clean surface such as a table.
3. Clean the outside
Use your vacuum cleaner to carefully remove obvious dust from the vents and various ports (USB , network, monitor and so on). Try to avoid spinning the fans in the wrong direction when vacuuming near them to prevent possible damage – for this reason don’t use a can of compressed air. Once complete, use your anti-bacterial cloth to give the PC’s exterior a good clean, removing any additional dust and grime you find. Earbuds are a good cleaning tool for crevices, grills and other small gaps.
4. Clean the keyboard
Don’t forget to clean your laptop’s keyboard – the can of compressed air and soft brush can help dislodge the worst of the dirt that’s fallen down inside it. Cleaning the keys themselves might require a brush with harder bristles to gently scrape off the dirt. If you plan to use a cleaning solution, use isopropyl to moisten a paper towel or damp rag to clean the tops of the keys, and a moistened ear bud to clean between them. Do not pour the solution directly on to the keyboard!
5. Clean other devices
Use the cloth to clean all your cables and peripherals such as printers, removing any obvious dust and grime. Use your soft brush to clean inside any small holes to help dislodge any dirt inside. Look for dedicated cleaning products for certain elements, such as monitor screens.
6. Clean inside your desktop
If you’re a confident user, comfortable with opening up your desktop PC, you can go further and carefully clean its insides too. We strongly recommend you wear an anti-static wristband, which should be clipped to the side of your case after removing the cover.
Start by using your vacuum’s nozzle to remove the worst of the dust inside, but make sure it doesn’t touch any of the components. For a more thorough clean, use short bursts of compressed air (any longer and you might introduce moisture) in conjunction with your soft brush or cloth to shift more stubborn dirt. Advanced users may also wish to take out expansion cards and cables to clean them, but make sure you know exactly where they came from!
Once you’ve finished cleaning your laptop or desktop PC, you should find it runs smoother, quieter and cooler – all without upgrading or repairing it.