Cleaning your computer is one of those necessary things you must do as a responsible computer owner. Just like taking your dog for a walk each day, you also need to clean your computer regularly. Keeping your computer clean will help it run better and keep it in good working order for a longer time.
But the cleaning techniques can vary greatly depending on cleaning a PC or a laptop. Both have hardware that can be quite different and therefore each has specific cleaning instructions.
Our guide will outline how to clean your laptop and PC both safely and thoroughly.
Desktop PC Cleaning
Before cleaning any computer, make sure you shut it down completely. Also be sure to check the power strip and make sure that’s unplugged. When cleaning a desktop PC, make sure you unplug the cord from the back of the tower.
To clean the outside of your computer, a soft lint-free cloth is a must. This is the only safe way to clean the exterior of a desktop computer. Never use a paper towel. Just dampen the cloth and wipe the entire exterior of the tower; anything that is plastic or metal.
One of the trickiest areas of a desktop PC to clean are the air vents. They tend to get the dirtiest, so knowing how to clean these is a must. The air vents’ purpose is to regulate the computer’s temperature, but they get overwhelmed with dust in a short period and can cause your computer to grossly overheat.
To clean the air vents on a PC, you will need to remove the case using a screwdriver. There are fasteners along the back and the sides of the tower. Once you have access to the vent, use a can of compressed air or a vacuum cleaner with a small house attachment, even a Dust Buster, to remove the dust. Always make sure to blow the dust away from the fan and hold the fan’s blades as you blow the air to keep them from spinning.
While you’re cleaning the inside of your computer, you can also use the compressed air to clean your video card, other drives, the rear fan, front fan and external connectors. A small paintbrush also works great to loosen the dust. When finished, give the entire case another spray to get rid of anything you missed. To get into the tighter spaces, you can use a Q-tip dipped in glass cleaner to gently remove any dust you missed.
Most desktop PC monitors have an LCD screen nowadays, but if you have an old glass-screen CRT monitor, a household glass cleaner will do the trick.
Just make sure to stay away from cleaners with ammonia as they can damage the coating on a CRT monitor. A homemade glass cleaner of equal parts water and white vinegar works good too. Also, when cleaning your monitor, make sure to wipe in the same direction.
To clean a PC keyboard, first, flip over the keyboard to remove any crumbs or particles and then use compressed air to clean the cracks and crevices. You can also use rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to clean the top of the keys.
If you make this a habit, using a small soft-bristled dusting brush, can really prolong your keyboard’s life and improve its overall appearance.
Using a Q-tip dipped in glass cleaning solution is also a great utensil for cleaning your mouse, since we all know how many disgusting things can linger there. Use the Q-tip to clean between the buttons, around the seams, and along the bottom.
Cleaning Your Laptop
When cleaning a laptop, make sure you remove all power sources plugged into it, then turn it upside down to remove the battery. Look for a smaller screwdriver too to do this. This should be all that you need to remove the battery. Also, put a paper towel underneath when it’s upside down to protect the finish.
Like all computers, the exterior of a laptop can get pretty gross after a while. Always use a lint-free rag and get it damp with water to wipe the grime off the body of your laptop. No strong chemicals are needed. You can also use the rag on the face and bezel of the computer.
Keeping the vents on a laptop clean is critical. To clean the vents on a laptop, you first need to find them by looking at the underside of your computer. Look for the panel with extra screws near the bottom of the laptop. Once you find it, unscrew the panel using a small screwdriver and the vent will be removed along with it.
Once you’re in, use a Dust Buster or a small hose on a vacuum to suck out the dust. Compressed air works too. Also, clean around the vents on the outside of the laptop.
Since laptops rely heavily on a fan, removing any debris and dust on a regular basis will greatly extend the life of your laptop.
There are several ways to clean your keyboard on a laptop. Firstly, you can use a Dust Buster or a mini vacuum cleaner. Another effective way is using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. These work great for getting rid of grease spots as much as they work on your walls. Canned air works to clean a keyboard too, just make sure to angle the can at 45 degrees to get under the keys.
You can also use ear buds or paint brush to clean the gaps between keyboard keys.
To clean an integrated mouse/trackpad on a laptop, you can also use Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. These work great on a laptop’s trackpad. Otherwise, you can use a lint-free cloth and dampen it with white vinegar to gently wipe it and remove any sticky or greasy residue.
To clean a LCD monitor, which is the standard on most laptops now, a soft lint-free cloth is a must. To clean your monitor with a lint-free cloth, dampen it with water and gently wipe all visible particles off your screen.
You can also use screen cleaning solution or cleansing wipes. Whatever you choose do not spray any liquid directly on the display. Instead, dampen a microfiber cloth and then use it to clean the monitor surface.
SEE ALSO: How to Connect Your Lap or PC to Your TV
When finished with computer cleaning, always make sure you let all the parts dry before putting your computer back together. Also, when cleaning your computer, try to repeat the cleaning process every six months to make sure your computer stays in top working order. If you have pets, you may even want to increase the cleaning to every three months because of the higher amount of hair and dander in your home.
For tips on maintaining the health of your PC on the inside, which is just as important as the exterior cleaning, read our blog post: 5 Free Programs You Need in Your Computer Maintenance Arsenal