Tips to physically clean up your Windows computer, mouse and keyboard

How many of us actually physically clean our computers? Cleaning up your computer parts can actually save you a lot of possible grief and costs. Your computer could fry if you don’t keep it clean. Dust clogs the vents behind your computer, which causes your CPU to heat up, and heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers.

Physically clean up computer, mouse, keyboard

Well here are some nice tips, sourced from Microsoft to help you get started. First, always turn your computer off before you begin and unplug all the cords.

Step 1: Inside the case

Using 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 the fan (from the back of the case). Also, blow air into the floppy disk and CD drives. Wipe the inside of the cover with a lightly moistened cloth before replacing it.

TIP: How to fix Overheating and Noisy Laptop Fan issues.

Step 2: Outside the case

Run 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: Keyboard

Turn 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 this monthly.

If a Spill happens, immediately turn off your computer, disconnect the keyboard, and flip it over. While the keyboard is upside down, blot the top with a paper towel, blow compressed air between the keys and leave it to air dry overnight.

Step 4: Mouse

Rub 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: Monitor

Moisten 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 screen—spray the cloth instead. Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. Never touch the back of the monitor. For laptop screens, buy a special cleaning solution available at computer stores.

Finally, make sure that everything is dry before you plug your computer back in.

Happy computing!

Do any of you ever physically clean your computer? Well, I don’t! I never have! Probably never will – too lazy !

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

8 Comments

  1. Lee@TWC

    My laptop I actually take apart every 3 months, clean out the fan, keyboard, screen and all the ports. It’s amazing just how much that little fan on a laptop can suck up into the laptop.

  2. Cris DeRaud

    Get a DataVac from metro and you’ll find the cleaning can actually be easy and fun. http://www.metrovacworld.com/DataVac%20Electric%20Duster.

    Very little dust in all my machines.

  3. WolvenSpectre

    4 tips to add to your cleaning instructions…

    1)When you go to open up and clean your computer touch the case at the back around the power supply (if the metal of the power supply is open to the outside of the case, if not touch the metal case of the power supply inside the computer once you open it up). This will get rid of any static charge you may have built up.

    You can also use a static guard wrist strap, but unplug your computer’s power supply if you do because this, in rare circumstances, can actually cause more static discharge than if you didn’t use the strap. Its generally a good idea to fully disconnect the power chord from the back of your computer when you do these things anyway.

    When using canned air to dust out your case and power supply DONT let your fans spin as you blow them out. This wears at the bearings and the casing they are in and can drammaticly shorten their lifespan as you are spinning them as sometimes multiples times the speed they were built for.

    Also when using canned air in mechanical drives like Optical Drives or Floppys leave them open for 10 to 20 minutes as the liquid in the can will not dissipate as fast and will also tend to pool inside the drives. This can be bad for the drives and the media if used right away.

    3)The best and most sanitary way to clean a keyboard is to remove all the keys and then clean behind them too. THIS OF COURSE DOES NOT MEAN LAPTOPS. Even when laptops have removable key covers it is often bad for the keyboard to remove them. Also your should note that often the RETURN, Spacebar, and the Number pad ENTER and “0” keys have special connections to the board which can make taking them off and putting them back on a pain, but you are able to clean around them with the other keys off. Also, if you don’t know your keyboard layouts take a picture or print one out off the net so you can return the keys to their proper locations.

    4) Not many of us in 2011 are still using ball mice, but here is some advice… don’t air dry the mouse ball after using water to clean it. It can cause swelling in some types of balls and inhibit readings in some optical ball mice. This will cause the surface to get rougher and thus dirtier faster. If you do wash it in water make sure it is room temperature and then for a short period immerse it in as pure a isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol as you can get your hands on. Then when you air dry the moisture will fully evaporate.

    You should be careful using isopropyl alcohol when cleaning the bottoms of Optical/Laser mice because some use a set of lenses on the bottom that the isopropyl alcohol can get in and affect the mouses opperation (and cleaning it out is a PAIN).

    5) some monitors have a coating on their screens that is so sensitive you can’t use hard water, warm water, or cold water. If you use water to clean some monitors they require you use room temperature distilled water or no water at all. CHECK YOUR MANUFACTURERS CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS OR YOU CAN VOID YOUR WARRANTY! Most older or mid range monitors are fine but the higher end (and especially also HDTVs being used as a monitor) the more you have to worry about this.

  4. TuneUp

    This is a great article. Obviously we all worry about cleaning what’s actually in our computer to maintain its performance, but a lot of times we forget to physically clean it. These are helpful tips—it’s good to know what kind of cleaning products to use to avoid causing any damage to your computer. It’s a big pet peeve of mine when my keyboard is dirty or has crumbs in between the keys!

  5. Chad

    Cleaning up accessories on computer is a great idea, but cleaning up important parts inside the CPU should be done carefully in order to avoid severe damage to the components of the CPU. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  6. Dave O'Mills

    Thanks for this totally edge advice!

  7. Mick Hansen

    Can’t find any balls on my mouse????

  8. Alan M

    Don’t forget to clean the CPU fan and heat sink. The heat sink will probably look like it is carpeted or covered in felt. I carefuly remove the fan from the heat sink and then use a small soft paint brush and the compressed air to clean between all those tiny fins. Be careful as these fins are also razor sharp. Blood contains salt that can short out stuff. I use the brush and air inside and out. A very soft brush please.
    Depending on how hard it is to remove the fan from the heat sink, it will only take abou 10 – 15 minutes to do a good cleaning. Have fun and be careful………….Alan

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