April is here and spring is in the air for much of the southeast. If you are like many Americans, you will be taking time over the next several weekends to clean and organize your in order to prepare for the coming summer months. Still, with all of the cleaning going on, there is one item that most people use every day that will likely be looked over in the spring cleaning process: your computer!
When hair, dirt, dust, or other components get trapped inside of your computer, they prevent heat from escaping. Dirt also clogs the system’s cooling fans. This dramatically compromises the fans ability to cool the inside of the system. Systems that cannot keep cool and are constantly overheating will have a dramatically shorter life span in comparison to a computer system that is properly cleaned on a regular basis.
There are many reasons why you should regularly clean your computer. The frequency of how often you should do it varies on a number of factors. These factors include location, the type of environment the computer is in, and who uses the computer (no surprise here, kids are generally messier than adults). Desktops will also get dirtier than a typical laptop as they are on the floor. And computers that are around pets, located on carpet, or are regularly next to food and drinks also are more likely to get dirty.
PLEASE NOTE: Check your computer’s fans and exhaust ports. If they are caked or showing signs of dust collection, it is time to clean your computer.
Before you clean your computer, the first thing you are going to need to do is shut down and unplug your system. Do NOT attempt to clean your computer with electricity flowing through the circuits. We then recommend taking the unit outside, or at least to a tiled area. You will be removing a lot of dust and dirt from your system and you don’t want that to just end up on the floor.
Next, gather your tools. Here is a list of the tools we suggest you have in order to give your computer a thorough cleaning.
Tools to Clean Your Computer:
- Hardware Set that includes screw drivers
- Can of compressed air
- Cleaning Cloth
- Water or Rubbing Alcohol
Vacuum Cleaner: We recommend that you have a vacuum cleaner handy to help you with cleanup after you have finished cleaning your computer.
HOWEVER, PLEASE NOTE: you should NOT use a vacuum cleaner to clean out your computer. Vacuum cleaners generate static electricity that can shock the more fragile components of your computer. This could permanently damage your computer.
Now, let’s get to cleaning!
How To Clean Your Computer
Once you have all of your tools, you are ready to clean your computer! Let’s go over the basic computer components that should be cleaned.
Clean Your Computer Case
Making sure that you clean your computer’s case and outside components is one of the easiest ways to keep your computer looking new.
As you are clean your computer’s case, pay special attention to all vents and air holes. Remove any dust or dirt particles that have found their way inside the RAM slots. Make sure that they are lint, dirt free by rubbing a cloth over them.
Clean Your CD-ROM, DVD, or other disc drive
It is very important to clean your computer’s disc drive. Dirty disc drives can cause read errors when reading discs.
Use a slightly dampened cloth to clean the tray for your disc drive. However, make sure that it is completely dry before reinserting it into the drive.
Clean the Keyboard
The computer keyboard is generally one of the most germ-infected places on your workstation. Cleaning it helps remove any dangerous bacteria in addition to keeping the keyboard functioning properly. How to clean your computer’s keyboard depends on whether you are working on a desktop or a laptop.
Cleaning a Desktop Keyboard – The first thing you should do when cleaning your computer’s laptop is to unplug the computer. If not, you could push buttons that you are not intending to. Once you have done this, start cleaning your computer’s keyboard. Aim a can of compressed air in between the keys to blow the debris out from between and underneath the keys. If you want to conduct a more thorough cleaning of your computer’s keyboard, you can pop the keys off to fully clean underneath. This can be accomplished by inserting a small, flathead screwdriver below the key. Once below the key, twist or push down on the screwdriver in an effort to pry the key upward. Continue this until the key pops off. Once everything below the key has been removed, press down on the key until it snaps back into place.
After the dust and dirt have been removed, spray a disinfectant solution onto a cloth and rub each of the keys on the keyboard.
Cleaning a Laptop Keyboard
Like almost everything else on a laptop, a keyboard is also different from the desktop model. One of the biggest differences between the laptop and desktop keyboards lies in the fact that laptop keys cannot be completely removed. If you work on a laptop, cleaning your computer’s keyboard must also take a different approach. Therefore, you should wipe down the top of the keys with a slightly damp cloth (feel free to use a very little bit of antibacterial solution as well). In addition, use the compressed air can to spray any dust, dirt, or hair from in-between the keys.
PLEASE NOTE: Regardless of the type of keyboard you have, you should never spray cleaning solution or any other liquid directly on the intended surface when cleaning your computer.
Clean Your Mouse
A dirty optical-mechanical mouse (mouse with a ball) can cause the mouse to be sluggish, difficult to move, or have somewhat sporadic movements, as the ball is not functioning properly.
To clean the rollers of a mouse, you first remove the bottom cover. Once the cover has been removed, place it and the ball to the side. You should then see three rollers located within the mouse. Use a cotton swab to remove any substance that on or around the rollers. Once you have removed as much dirt and dust as possible, place the ball and the cover back within the mouse.
Clean the Monitor
A dirty monitor can cause screens to become difficult to read. Luckily, this is one of the easiest components to clean when you clean your computer. Just make sure that you do a few things correctly. As we have mentioned above, the first step you should take when you clean your computer (or any electronic device) is to unplug the machine.
To clean your monitor, you can use a simple household glass cleaner onto a lint-free cloth.
PLEASE NOTE: We suggest cleaning any non-glass monitor or anti-glare screen with water only. Household cleaners with ammonia can have damaging affects on the protection layers of these types of surfaces.
Once you have gotten all the pieces of your computer clean and as much dirt and dust as possible removed, you can put all of the pieces back together. Vacuum all of the debris that is now safely outside of the computer, so that they don’t get tracked back into your clean house or office. There are many more aspects to cleaning your computer that you can venture out on if you feel like it. Stay tuned for our blog post on Thursday where we discuss organizing your computer files!