Clean your computerI have a dirty secret.
I've never cleaned my computer. Sure, I've dusted my monitor, but I
haven't taken off the cover or tried to reach the crumbs lurking inside
"Your computer could fry if you don't keep it clean," says Jonathon Millman, chief technology officer for Hooplah Interactive.
clogs the vents behind your computer, which causes your CPU to heat
up—and heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers.
Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road.
Keep your computer in tip-top shape by following Millman's guide to a spotless computer system.
- can of compressed air (available from computer dealers or office-supply stores)
- cotton swabs (do not use a cotton ball)
- rubbing alcohol
- paper towels or anti-static cloths
Always turn your computer off before you begin and unplug all the cords.
Step 1: Inside the caseUsing
a screwdriver, remove the side of the case that's opposite your
motherboard. Touch as little as possible inside the computer, keeping
fingers away from cards and cords.
Blow air around all of the
components and along the bottom of the case, keeping the nozzle four
inches away from the machine. Blow air into the power supply box and
into the fan (from the back of the case). Lastly, blow air into the
floppy disk and CD drives. Wipe the inside of the cover with a lightly
moistened cloth before replacing it.
Millman recommends doing
this every three months if your case sits on the floor, if you have
pets that shed, or if you smoke. Otherwise, every six to eight months
Step 2: Outside the caseRun
a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol around all of the openings on
the back of your case. Give them one swipe with the damp end of the
swab and one swipe with the dry end. Do this as often as you clean the
inside of your computer.
Step 3: KeyboardTurn
the keyboard upside down and gently shake it. Most of the crumbs and
dust will fall out. Take a can of compressed air and blow into and
around the keys. Next, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing
alcohol. It should be damp, but not wet. Run the cotton swab around the
outside of the keys. Rub the tops of the keys. If you have a laptop,
follow the same procedure but take extra care with your machine. Do
If you have kids, you're worried about spills. If it happens,
disconnect the keyboard immediately and flip it over. Blot the top with
a paper towel, blow compressed air between the keys and leave it to air
dry overnight. For laptops, liquid can easily penetrate the hard drive
so turn the computer over immediately and leave it in that position
until it dries.
Step 4: MouseRub
the top and bottom of your mouse with a paper towel dipped in rubbing
alcohol. Open the back and remove the ball. Wash the ball with water
and let it air dry. To clean inside the mouse, dip a cotton swab in
rubbing alcohol and rub all of the components. Scrape hard-to-remove
grime with your fingernail. Finally, blow air into the opening. Replace
the ball and the cover. Do this monthly.
Step 5: MonitorMoisten
a paper towel or a soft, lint-free cloth with water. (You can also buy
monitor cleaning products at computer-supply stores.) Don't spray
liquid directly onto the screenspray the cloth instead. Wipe the
screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. Never touch the back of
For laptop screens, Millman suggests buying a special cleaning solution available at computer stores. Do this weekly.
Finally, make sure that everything is dry before you plug your computer back in.