How to Clean Your Desktop PC (2024)

Jeni_Odley
edited February 19 in PC Tech

Maintaining a clean PC is crucial to keep it running smoothly and helps avoid expensive repairs. Over time, dust, food, and other particles can get stuck beneath keyboard keys and in USB ports and fans, which can stop the PC from running properly. Accessories such as the computer mouse also collect dirt and debris, which can cause a jumpy cursor. Regular computer cleaning can also reduce the spread of germs and bacteria, which is particularly important for shared computers in public spaces or office environments. Keeping a clean workspace and computer keeps germs at bay and helps maintain a pleasant work area. 

What tools do you need for a PC cleanup? 

Cleaning kits for PCs include items many people have lying around at home. If not, they can easily be picked up at a DIY or hardware store. Before getting started, consider wearing a face covering or mask if you have allergies or are dealing with a particularly dusty PC. Other tools include a microfiber cloth or computer duster, water, compressed air, Q-tips, screen cleaning wipes, and a small screwdriver.  

How to clean a computer 

The first step to cleaning a computer is identifying dust particles or debris. Although vacuum cleaners are effective for dusty desks or work surfaces, they should not be used directly on PCs. Instead, switch the computer off or unplug it from the wall outlet and use compressed air to blow away any dust. This can often be achieved effectively without having to dismantle the PC. Gaming computers may be more time-intensive to clean as they have more complex cable structures, drive caddies, or a water-cooling loop. These must be untied, unhooked, and dismantled before cleaning.

Once all accessories and items have been removed, users can wipe down any dust or debris using a microfiber cloth or computer duster, paying attention to small crevices. Carefully use Q-tips or cleaning wipes for extra-tight areas or stubborn dirt. Be sure to leave everything to dry thoroughly before reassembly.  

How to clean a computer keyboard 

First, unplug the keyboard from the USB port or shut down the computer. Turn the keyboard upside down and lightly shake it to remove any loose dust or debris, and use a can of compressed air to blow away any stubborn dirt between keys. If the keys are visibly dirty, use a damp (not wet!) cloth to clean them. Once everything is dry, reconnect the keyboard before switching on the computer again.

How to clean a computer mouse 

Computer mice are usually optical or mechanical. Although the cleaning process is similar for both, there are some distinct differences. Optical mice have no rotating parts and therefore do not require any internal cleaning. However, dust can accumulate at the light emitter, which can cause the cursor to jump. Mechanical mice use a rotating ball to detect movement that makes the cursor move on the computer screen. Dust and dirt can collect inside the mouse and around the ball, preventing it from moving smoothly.

Unplug the device or switch off the computer before cleaning an optical or mechanical mouse. Use a damp cloth to clean the top and bottom of the mouse with water. Mechanical mice can be opened by turning the cover anti-clockwise and removing the ball. Using a damp cloth, ensure all debris is removed inside the mouse and from the ball itself. Check that all parts are dry before reassembling and reconnecting the mouse or switching on the computer. 

How to clean the computer fans?  

Computer fans keep our devices cool and dust-free. After unplugging the computer, remove the side panels to reveal the internal fans. Use a can of compressed air, holding it at an angle to turn the fan as it is being sprayed. Try to spray in short bursts rather than long spells to avoid condensation buildup or damage to the components, and remove stubborn dust with a Q-tip or microfiber cloth.    

Some things to watch out for when cleaning a PC 

Just like us, PCs also need room to breathe. Try to keep the general environment clear of dust and remove any books, papers, or other clutter from around the computer to maximize airflow. Computers can generate a lot of heat during use, and the fans are designed to keep them cool. Furthermore, check that sprays or wipes are computer-friendly and avoid using household fabric or furniture cleaners directly on the PC. Computer monitors often have an anti-glare coating, and using standard glass cleaners can damage this handy feature. Therefore, we recommend using only water or computer-friendly cleaning products on PCs.  

How often should you clean your PC? 

Dust and debris build-ups are an inevitable part of owning a PC. However, neglecting this may damage computer systems and reduce their lifespan. It is generally recommended that users should clean their computers every three to six months, wiping over screens and keyboards more regularly if they become grubby. Conducting a deep clean every six months to a year is usually enough to achieve a smooth-running device.  

Conclusion 

Desktop PCs require regular cleaning as part of their general maintenance. Over time, dust and debris can build up in USB ports, underneath keyboard keys, and on the computer screen and can impact the device’s performance. To avoid this, clean the keyboard by gently shaking loose dust and using compressed air to blow out stubborn debris. Optical and mechanical devices can be cleaned by wiping over the surface and removing and cleaning the ball on mechanical mice. This helps to avoid a sticky or jumpy cursor. When cleaning PCs or electronic devices, avoid using strong alcohol or household cleaners, and always ensure that cleaning items are computer-friendly before use. By incorporating computer maintenance into a regular cleaning schedule, we can enhance the usability and longevity of our devices.

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Jeni is a translator and writer based in Taiwan. She is passionate about business development and loves helping companies enter international markets. She is fluent in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese, and combines these with her industry experience to provide practical market entry solutions.

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