Cleaning Your Computer

Summer 2010 CSANews Issue 75  |  Posted date : Jul 20, 2010.Back to list

Keeping it simple is the best way to deal with computer cleaning. I would not recommend opening the tower if you are not familiar with the inside components but, if you have a technician who is going to replace or upgrade your RAM (memory) or other parts of your computer, you could ask him or her to clean the inside of the tower at that time.

Meanwhile, there are simple steps to prevent dust and pet hair from building up around the fans. There are generally two fans inside a computer and some have more than two. These fans keep the processor and other components cool. If dust is allowed to accumulate around the fans, it causes the computer to overheat and burn out the components (single piece which forms part of a larger unit).  It is essential that dust is kept away from all components to ensure that your computer runs smoothly, so make sure that your desk and surrounding areas are also dust-free.
  • Position your computer tower as high as you can from the floor, preferably on your desktop. If this is not convenient, build or purchase a small platform to raise the tower off the floor, especially if it is carpeted. If your computer tower sits inside a cabinet it will stay relatively clean, but make sure that there is enough airflow to keep the cabinet cool. Taking off the back of the cabinet would be the best solution. This could be replaced with a fine mesh panel that will not only ensure a good airflow, but will also catch some of the dust that will try to enter. You should check this mesh from time to time and vacuum any dust that has accumulated so that it does not impede the airflow.
  • Disconnect your computer tower from the power source. If you wish to use a can of compressed air to blow away the dust, remember to hold it upright at all times otherwise condensation will drip onto the components and could damage them. I prefer to use a small computer vacuum that will do a great job without causing damage, as long as you do not touch any internal components. This works as a vacuum or a blower and some models have a micro dust brush as well. Do not use a standard vacuum to clean inside your computer because it builds up a tremendous amount of static electricity, which will kill your computer on accidental contact. It is also too powerful for the job in hand.
  • I have discovered that wiping the monitor, keyboard and the outside of the computer tower, printer and other peripherals with a "Swiffer" cloth is the best way to keep the dust at bay. Using other materials just seems to move the dust around, but the dust clings to the "Swiffer" cloth and you can then discard it. Make sure that your monitor is turned off before cleaning.
  • If your monitor needs more than dusting, use a lint-free cloth that is slightly damp, not wet, and gently wipe the surface of the monitor. If your monitor is LCD (liquid crystal display), keep sharp objects and your fingernails away so that you do not pierce the surface; most laptops have LCD monitors. If you own the older, larger CRT (cathode-ray tube) monitor, the surface is more like glass but you should still use a slightly damp cloth so that water does not penetrate the outer frame, causing damage to the components. Never open your CRT monitor or try to clean the inside. Do not use unapproved liquids to clean your monitor. These could do permanent damage.
  • Keyboards always seem to collect a great deal of dust, so you may wish to cover it when not in use. If you own a laptop, you can close the lid after you close down your system. Cleaning is simple with a small computer vacuum, a new soft clean dry paint brush or a can of compressed air. Remember to pick up the keyboard and keep the can of compressed air upright to avoid condensation dripping on to the keyboard.
  • Many computer users forget how important it is to clean the computer mouse often. The mouse is in use 90 per cent of the time and it can harbour germs. Use a slightly damp cloth to clean the top surface of the mouse. Remove the housing and ball if you are not using a laser mouse, and clean the interior with a cotton swab. You can also rinse the ball with warm water and dry it thoroughly before replacing. Washing your hands before you start working on your computer will avoid the spread of germs to your mouse and keyboard.
You should not hear loud noises coming from your computer tower but if you do, it may mean that the fans are clogged with dust. Performing the simple steps above will allow your system to keep cool and improve the lifespan of your computer.