How to Physically Clean Your PC and More

Spring is in the air and it’s time to do some spring cleaning. This means cleaning your house, room, and most importantly, your PC! Of course, keeping your PC clean isn’t just a matter of aesthetics; it also helps keep your system from overheating.

As a computer runs, it generates static electricity, which attracts dust and hairs. These nasty bits clump together and gunk up the heatsink, case fans, and other computer components. It’s not only gross but also ends up blocking airflow, which causes overheating. So beyond annual spring-cleanings, it’s important to routinely clear out any messy buildups in your rig. Without further ado, let’s start scrubbing down our PCs!

PC cleaning tools

Tools of the trade

Compressed air can

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol or Vodka in a pinch

White vinegar

Distilled water

Microfiber cloths

Q-tips

Scotch tape

PC cases

We’ll go ahead and start with the biggest and most important item that needs cleaning, your gaming rig. If your PC has been sitting around all winter, it’s probably packed with dust even with filters in front of every intake fan.

PC Outside

1) Take it outside

The first step will be to take it outside because it’s a bit pointless to blow out all that dust indoors just to have it all settle back down in the same room. But before we do that, disconnect the computer entirely. This includes Power cable, USB peripherals, and whatever audio equipment you have hooked up. Don’t forget to discharge the remaining power in the computer by grounding yourself while touching the power supply and pressing the power button.

Wipe it down

2) Wipe it down

The next step is giving the outside of the case a good once over, wiping down the entire exterior and even cleaning its dirty feet.

Clean those dust filters

3) Clean those dust filters

Next up detach any dust filters on the case and wipe off the accumulated dust bunnies. Doing this by hand is fine but give it a quick blast of compressed air can for good measure. Meanwhile, for foam filters give them a quick rinse under the sink. In both cases make sure to clear the dust out so that it blows out away from the clean side, otherwise you’ll end up dirtying both sides.

Prepping the patient

4) Prepping the patient

Before you go dual wielding air cans on the inside of your case, you should know that will just cause a big mess. So it’s important to first wipe down the inside manually—yes, by hand. It’s an opportune time to disconnect big components like the graphics card, RAM modules, and even the heatsink if you have some replacement thermal paste lying around.

Clean the graphics card

There’s always bound to be dust hidden between the cracks and removing these components will make it easier to clean off the motherboard. Before you go blowing off the GPU and other case fans, use a pen to hold the fan in place as it prevents it from spinning too fast and potentially damaging the motor.

Cleaning

5) Cleaning

Additionally, if there are any big clumps of dust it would be best to grab them up and wipe them away with a damp (not wet!) isopropyl rubbing alcohol-laden cloth first. After that, go ahead and pull the air can trigger on any nooks and crannies you might have missed as well as the motherboard itself. For any truly stubborn dust particles hanging around the case’s expansion slots, dampen some Q-tips with alcohol to rub it out.

Packing it up

6) Packing it all up

Once you’re all done inside, put everything back where it belongs. You might also want to check over your wiring. Just in case you’re still using the old pack-your-wires-at-the-bottom-of-the-case strategy, check out our guide on how to wire like a pro .

Click the next page to get tips on how to clean up accessories like keyboards, mice, and more!

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