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If you thought dust and dirt were just the enemies of your furniture and clothes, think again. A regular build-up of dust and dirt on your computer hardware can lead to serious issues, such as overheating, that may cause your computer to perform sub-optimally and even add to repair costs in the long run.

How often should you clean your computer?

Fortunately, cleaning your computer is not difficult and only requires a time commitment of 15 to 20 minutes every once in 3 to 6 months. If you live in a very dusty area, you may need to do it bi-monthly. Even then it’s only a small time investment that can yield a number of benefits including keeping your system running smoothly and ensuring minimal repairs and optimal performance. If you’re looking for cleaning and maintenance support for your enterprise hardware, IT Support Houston can be a great resource.

What You Will Need to Clean Your PC Hardware

  • Hardware set – These are a set of cleaning tools designed specifically for dealing with computer parts, such as a set of screwdrivers for opening and closing screws and more.
  • Can of compressed air – This can be easily purchased at your local electronic stores
  • Mini Vacuum Cleaner – Small, portable vacuum cleaners can be a very handy cleaning tool and these days, many come with accessories necessary for cleaning delicate computer equipment.
  • Cleaning cloth – Any non-abrasive cloth material will work, but it’s best if you use an anti-static cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol will work as well)
  • Cotton swabs – Q-Tips are good to have, but not essential
  • Pencil/pen – Good to have, but not essential

Deep Cleaning your computer Hardware

Wipe down your computer
The easiest way to clean your computer is to dust off the outside of your system with a soft, dry cloth weekly, if not every few days. This will help you get rid of any fingerprints on the screen. We will advise not to spray liquids directly onto the monitor as sometimes liquids can seep into the inner co Do not use regular household cleaners that may damage the monitor’s anti-glare coatings. Simply wipe the screen with a soft microfiber cloth. You can lightly dampen the cloth with distilled water for tougher smudges. The front and back of your laptop can be cleaned with a clean sponge and mild dish soap and water. Always make sure to wring out the sponge and cloth and rub gently. Make sure your computer is completely dry before you power it back on.

Clean Your keyboard
The easiest way to get rid of food crumbs, stray hairs lodged in your keyboard is to simply pick up your keyboard, turn it upside down and gently tap the back to dislodge tiny bits of dirt and other materials stuck in the crannies. For sticky dirt, use a Q-Tip cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to wipe around the keys. If that still does not solve your keyboard problems, you may need to consult the keyboard manual for guidance on deep cleaning your keyboard safely.

Clean Your Mouse
Both optical and mechanical mouse types can be cleaned efficiently with little care. Optical mice don’t need internal cleaning as they lack any moving mechanical parts. But their naturally fluid movement can get erratic over time with dust collection near the light emitter. Mechanical mice, on the other hand, can collect dust and particles inside the mouse, making it difficult for the mouse to move properly. If you are having trouble with the mouse pointer, the mouse may need to be cleaned.

Cleaning your mouse is a fairly basic process. First off, you will need to unplug the mouse from the USB port. If the mouse is plugged into the PS/2 port or shut down the computer before you unplug it. Similar to the keyboard cleaning process, you can moisten your cleaning cloth with rubbing alcohol, and clean the top and bottom of the mouse. With a mechanical mouse, you will need to remove the tracking ball in the mouse. Simply turn the ball-cover ring counter-clockwise, remove the ball and clean the tracking ball as well as the inside of the mouse with your cleaning cloth. Wait until the parts are completely dry before reassembling and reconnecting the mouse. For quick, everyday cleaning, you can simply place the mouse on a clean sheet of paper and move it back and forth to dislodge the dust and particles onto the paper.

Clean Your Monitor
Most monitors are a magnet for dirt, fingerprints, and dust rendering it difficult to read or watch anything on your screen. However, cleaning your monitor is a simple process. There are multiple highly recommended monitor-cleaning kits available in stores or online. But make sure you buy the kind that is recommended for your specific monitor as other kinds may end up damaging it. Cleaning kits for glass screens will differ significantly from non-glass LCD screens. For generic cleaning, simply use a soft clean cloth moistened with distilled water.

Cleaning Internal Components
Although you don’t need to do a computer clean-up for internal components as regularly as your monitor keyboard, it is a good practice to clean your computer case and the sides and back of the monitor every few months. You can clean these using an anti-static cloth to dust the computer casing. Take care not to use strong solvents or furniture cleaners. In case of dust or debris accumulation in the air intake slots, you can use a can of compressed air to blow it out.

Blow dust build-up out of computer vents, fans and accessories
Similar to the above, you may need to infrequently do a deep clean by using a screwdriver to open your computer’s exterior case. Use your can of compressed air to clean any dust buildup out of the fan and the case. Make sure that you’re blowing the dust out of the computer case and not back inside. You can also lightly moisten cotton swabs with rubbing alcohol to clean any lingering dirt on the fan vents or nooks and crannies of the case. For laptops, you will need to check the manual to safely open and clean the case. Short bursts of compressed air are also useful in blowing the dust out of your keyboard and mouse. But be careful as these are delicate components, and too strong a gust can damage the parts.

Check surge protector
It may be difficult to understand if your surge protector he’s actually working efficiently because a single power surge is enough to eradicate the protection provide Even if your surge protector is turning on, it may not be providing adequate protection. It might be a good idea to get your surge protectors checked out periodically by a qualified technician, especially after a significant power surge. Managed IT Services in Houston can help keep your systems in shipshape over the years to ensure optimal performance.

Keep PC ventilated
Proper airflow inside and outside of your PC is critical in ensuring its longevity and optimal performance. Always keep more than three inches of space free on either side of your PC. You should also take care to place your system in a room that is large enough or well-ventilated. You also need to keep an eye out for the effectiveness of your CPU fan and fan blades. If your processor starts overheating and you experience PC shutdowns without overtaxing your system, it may be time to upgrade your CPU fan.

Putting Your Computer Back Together
Once the cleaning process is complete, return all your peripheral components back to their designated locations. Cable management can be tricky. In case you get confused, you can always refer to the computer manual or even do a quick Google search to ensure you’re putting everything back in the right place. If you removed the RAM and video card, make sure you slot them back into allocated sockets. Once the internal components are all fixed, you can screw the side panel back on, and complete the process.

Scott Young

Scott Young, is the president of PennComp LLC, an IT Support Houston company. Being a CPA, Six Sigma Master Blackbelt, Change Management Certified and Myers Briggs Qualified, Scott’s expertise is reflected in PennComp as a leading IT company for computer services and network integration. PennComp utilizes Six Sigma methodologies and practices in their service delivery and offers state-of-the-art monitoring and management tools to their clients.