How to Properly Clean Inside Your Computer

Whether you work from home or just have a general family computer, most people don’t know how to properly clean their computer. Some people never clean their computer at all. Everyone knows to scan their computer for viruses and spyware, but what about external threats? The dust that builds up inside of your computer can be just as dangerous, and as deadly, to your computer system as the worst of viruses. Dust build up on your monitor, mouse, and other accessories can also cause problems.

The problems:

1. Dust can slow down air flow inside your PC casing by building up on your cooling fan, which can raise the computer’s temperature to dangerous levels. This can cause your computer to fail prematurely, and you can lose data. This can happen even more quickly if you’re a pet owner, smoker, or have your computer tower on a carpet.

2. A build up of dust on your monitor can cause eye strain, especially if you spend long hours working at your computer every day.

3. If you use a roller ball mouse, dust can accumulate inside, and make the mouse less responsive to your movements. The mouse can also carry germs if you don’t clean it regularly.

4. While dust isn’t as much of a problem with keyboards, other debris regularly gets lodged between the keys, which can make certain keys stick. The keyboard, like the mouse, can carry germs.

What you’ll need:

1. A can of compressed air
2. Cotton swabs
3. A lint-free cloth
4. A bottle of rubbing alcohol
5. Glass cleaner (if you have a standard computer monitor – not a flat screen LCD)
6. A screwdriver (to open your computer casing)

What to do:

1. If you have a standard computer monitor, spray glass cleaner on it and wipe it down with the lint-free cloth. If you have a flat screen LCD monitor, wipe it down with a dry cloth. If the LCD screen is still dirty, you can use rubbing alcohol with the cloth to remove dirt and smudges.

2. If you use a roller ball mouse, open the bottom of the mouse and remove the ball. Wipe the ball with rubbing alcohol and your lint-free cloth. Use a cotton swab (dry) to remove dust from inside the ball’s casing. Replace the ball, and wipe down the top and sides of the mouse with a small amount of rubbing alcohol with your lint-free cloth.

3. Turn your keyboard upside down to gently shake out loose debris. Use your can of compressed air to dislodge more dirt from between the keys, and shake it gently upside down again. Then use cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to clean the top of each key and between the keys. If you want to clean your keyboard more thoroughly, you can pop each key off gently with a screwdriver (making sure to note where to put them back properly), and wipe down the inside with rubbing alcohol and your cloth before putting the keys back.

4. Use your cloth to wipe any air vents on your computer that have a dust accumulation. Open your computer tower using the screwdriver, if necessary (how your tower opens will depend on your computer model and manufacturer). Carefully use the can of compressed air (always holding the can upright) to blow dust bunnies away from the mother board and hard drive areas, off of the cooling fan, and out of the computer tower. Use your cloth or cotton swabs to wipe fan blades if there is still an accumulation of dirt and dust.


1. If you’ve never opened your computer casing before, or if the thought makes you a bit squeamish, you should take your computer to a professional to have it cleaned.

2. Never use liquids on the inside of your computer tower!

3. Make sure your computer is unplugged before cleaning it, and be careful not to loosen or disconnect wires inside of the computer casing.

4. Don’t try to use glass cleaner or other liquids (other than rubbing alcohol if necessary) on an LCD monitor.

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