How To Thoroughly Clean Your Dirty Desktop Computer

Just like your car, your house and even your body, your computer needs a good cleaning every once in a while to prevent buildup of dust and overheating. Cleaning a PC is easy to perform and only takes about 20 minutes. So today we will explain how to effectively clean the interior of your desktop.

Editor's note: This article explains how to clean everything inside the computer case. You do not have to remove RAM and video card if you do not want to. We recommend that you clean your computer regularly.

How often do I need to clean my computer?

Depending on your environment, you may need to clean your computer more or less often. The placement of the computer is an important variable. Keeping your computer on the ground allows dust, hair, skin cells and carpet particles to penetrate more easily indoors. If you hold your computer above the floor, for example on your desk, the particles are less likely to penetrate inside.

If you smoke near your computer, tar, ashes, and other dirt can be deposited in your computer's fans and on its interior surfaces. Removing your computer from these objects every 6 months can improve performance.

If you are the owner of a pet, you may want to clean your computer more often. The inside of your computer is just as sensitive to fans clogging the fur and other areas of your computer.

In short, if you keep your computer away, do not smoke and do not have to keep your pets, you will probably be able to clean your computer once a year. If any of these things concern you, you can clean your computer every 6, even 3 months. And, as always, if your computer starts to heat up more than usual, open it to check for the absence of dust or hair, and then clean it.


Do not open your computer when it is running or with cables. It is always safer to remove all peripherals such as USB cables, audio cables, video cables and especially the power cable. Yes, keeping the power cable connected puts the PC to the ground and it is often OK to leave it connected while working inside the case. However, even a tiny trace of moisture from the canned air can cause problems if the components are powered.

Then move your computer to a well ventilated area such as your garden or garage. It is especially important to consider if your computer has accumulated a lot of dust. Breathing all this accumulated dust is not good for you and if you are in a confined space, the dust will only fall on your things, including your computer.

If your space is limited, be sure to keep a vacuum (do not to clean the inside of the computer; more on that soon) nearby for quick cleaning afterwards. And if you are worried about dust inhalation, you can always stop at your local gear to get a cheap dust mask at less than $ 5.

Gather your tools

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Before you start opening your computer case, you need to gather your cleaning tools. We strongly recommend do not use a vacuum cleaner clean the dust from the components of your computer. This can create a static accumulation and potentially fry important electrical components on your motherboard, video card and other places. It's a bad idea, so spare yourself and grab a bottle of compressed air.

That said, a vacuum cleaner can be useful if you dust off your computer inside. Vacuum and hold the hose near your PC, without touching it. Blow dust from the PC in the direction of the suction hose so that the vacuum cleaner can suck as much as possible.

You will need some tools to clean your computer:

Hardware set including screwdrivers
Can of compressed air
Cleaning cloth
Zip links (optional)
Scissors (optional)
Cotton swabs (optional)
Thermal paste (optional)
Pencil or pen (optional)

One of our readers, Carlos, suggests using a small brush to clear the dust where compressed air simply can not happen. Some of these tools are optional. So do not worry if you do not have them. We only had a few of them ourselves and still managed to do a great job.

Open your case

Now that you are in a well-ventilated area with all your tools together, we can begin the preparation process by opening your computer case. All computer cases are different. If you have never opened yours before and have trouble opening it, consult your computer's manual or try searching online for guides specifically related to opening your model.

The case we use is a Sigma Luna WB and, as in most cases, simply unscrew two screws and then slide the side panel out. Note that if your side panel is equipped with a fan, you may need to unplug a power cable to completely shut off the panel.

To facilitate the cleaning process, it is best to remove all easy-to-remove components. Most desktops allow you to remove USB sticks, video cards, and hard drives. You do not need to do it, but you can clean more thoroughly if you do it.

We recommend that you do not remove your processor because the thermal paste used to transfer heat from the top of the processor to the fan must be replaced each time the fan is removed. If you are equipped with a thermal paste and you want to remove your processor, just be sure to clean the old thermal paste from your processor with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Then apply a new layer of thermal paste after cleaning your computer.

Most people should not need to remove their processor and fan. This makes no sense, since virtually no dust enters the processor connector. Again, if you clean your computer, why not go to the end? The choice belongs.


To begin the cleaning process, start with the devices we just removed. Take your box of compressed air and hold the trigger down to release a burst of air on a very dusty area. We are cleaning an old video card that did not get much attention, so there was dust accumulation around the DVI ports. If you are cleaning a video card with a fan, you can use a pen or pencil to prevent the blades from spinning when you blow compressed air.

Then we enter the computer case. Start by removing any dust particles that may be inside the RAM slots. Take your can of compressed air, point it to a RAM slot, hold the trigger and move it through the slot. Repeat this for each location on your computer's case.

We will now move to the larger indoor equipment, such as your processor fan and power supply. Again, it is recommended to use a pen or pencil when cleaning the fans to prevent the blades from rotating. Use your can of compressed air to remove loose dust particles.

You can also use a cotton swab to clean the fan by rubbing it against the blades to stick the dust particles. It's a little tedious, but in the end it's a clean, clean fan.

The bottom of your case will undoubtedly have a build-up of dust. You can start by removing the dust with your compressed air. If there is still dust on the case, you can wipe it with a damp cloth. Make sure your laundry is not wet, but wet. Repeat this step for every corner of your case.

Finally, do not forget to also clean the other fans, ports or housings described above.

If you have a particularly numb ventilator, do not be afraid to use a cotton swab with some isopropyl alcohol to clean the blades. Rotate the fans quickly to make sure the blades move freely after cleaning. If this is not the case, it is probably better to replace the fans.

Declutter cables (optional)

This next step is optional and recommended for custom computers. Unlike custom-made computers, custom-made computers do not come with a perfectly concealed cabling that works perfectly. The best way to make your file safer and better organized is to use zip ties. You also do not want your processor fan or other fans to scrape cables if they are not tidy.

For starters, you will need a package of zip links. It does not matter how big or how big they are, as long as they fit all your cables. We will use 4 inch zip fasteners.

Start by unplugging all the cables to be tied. Be sure to note later how they have been connected and take pictures.

When you have one or more cables bundled at your convenience, wrap a zipped tie and pass the thinnest end into the clip. Then, tighten the tie by pulling on the thinner end until you can not tighten it anymore. Take your scissors and cut the excess.

Repeat this step for as many cables as possible. You can then store them to reduce their visibility and give a cleaner look to your computer.

The results

Reconnect your cables to their respective outlets. Refer to your document or pictures earlier if you do not remember where each cable goes. Also remember to put all removed devices, such as a video card or RAM sticks, back into their proper holders.

Your computer, inside and outside, must be like new. We cleaned our computer of dust, hair, skin particles and more. Your cables should be carefully managed and away from fans and other sensitive equipment. If you had heating problems before, you will begin to notice that this is a thing of the past. And do not forget to clean your computer every 3 to 6 months to maintain this performance!


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