Save Your Machine – Keep it Clean

A 5 step guide to cleaning your computer

Spring cleaning

Most of us do a good job of keeping our computers clean of malware; viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware and the like.

But, how many of us are concerned with keeping the physical machine clean? Do you clean and maintain your computer as often as you need to?

Since the summer is on the wane (at least here in the northern hemisphere), getting your computer ready for a workout over the Fall/Winter months, is much more important than you may realize.

Dealing with Viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware and the other nastiness we are all exposed to on the Internet, can be a massively aggravating experience. But none of these can cause hardware failure. Not cleaning your computer can, and will at the very least, reduce component life.

Heat is the chief cause of CPU and other component failure in computers. CPU failure caused by dust clogged vents, which leads to reduced air flow, is a more common occurrence than many realize. In fact, in the last year I have seen 5 CPU’s toasted by excessive heat.

Overheating of the CPU will, at a minimum, cause the system to behave erratically: the computer spontaneously switches off, or restarts; frequent “blue-screen” error messages and more.

Keeping your computer in top shape with a regularly scheduled cleaning program will prevent the inconvenience of having your system go down, and in the long run save you money.

To make it easy to remember, I schedule my computer maintenance and cleaning at the Spring and Fall time changes; just as I schedule smoke detector battery replacement.

Follow this guide to a spotless computer system.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver
  • A can of compressed air
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol (70% is fine)
  • Paper towels or anti-static cloths
  • Water

Since a computer is an electrical appliance, make sure you disconnect the machine from the wall outlet before you begin maintenance and cleanup, and try to avoid touching the components inside the case.


Open the case:

  • If required, use the screwdriver to remove the side of the case that’s opposite the motherboard. Blow compresses air over the components and interior of the case, keeping the can upright and nozzle four inches away from components.
  • Clean the power supply and the case fan with a shot of compressed air. Next, blow compressed air into the CD/DVD drive. Give the inside of the case a wipe with a slightly moistened cloth before replacing the cover.

Clean the exterior:

  • Wipe the exterior of the case with a slightly moistened cloth; repeat the wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel. Be sure to clean all case openings using this method.

Clean the keyboard:

  • Since the keyboard takes more physical contact than any other component, if you can, clean it on a monthly basis. Blowout in and around the keys with compressed air monthly and on your scheduled cleanup rub down the keys and case with a clean cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Clean the mouse:

  • Like the keyboard, the mouse gets substantial physical contact and requires cleaning on a monthly basis. If you have an optical mouse simply wipe it down just as you wiped down the keyboard. If you have a mechanical mouse then you need to remove, wash, and then dry the ball.
  • Next, clean inside the mouse with a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. Finally blow compressed air into the opening and then reassemble the mouse.

Clean the monitor:

  • Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. Instead moisten the cloth, or the paper towel, with the cleaning solution. Spraying the screen directly runs the risk of liquid penetrating into the monitor components.
  • 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. Do this weekly.

I know this sounds like a no-brainer but ……..

Before you plug the computer back into the wall outlet, be sure all components are thoroughly dry.

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Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools

3 responses to “Save Your Machine – Keep it Clean

  1. I think it goes without saying, but it’s a really bad idea to open up parts like the power supply or monitor regardless of how dusty it gets.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Jgoto,

      You’re absolutely right. Opening up a monitor can be a “shocking” experience, since it can still hold a charge even if unplugged. Power supplies and monitors, can easily be cleaned with a squirt of compressed air.


  2. Pingback: How to Save your Machine and some new viruses « Freeware Downloads and Reviews — Freeware Elite's Blog