How to Clean a Computer
Dust and waste are the worst enemies on your computer. As the amount of dust grows, covering the fans and components, it becomes increasingly difficult for your computer to breathe and maintain at the right temperature. This involves a lot of effort for your hardware and causes a reduction in the life time. Cleaning it regularly can significantly extend the life of your computer, and if you know the process well, it will only take you a few minutes each time you do it. Read step 1 below to get started.
Clean cabinet or tower
Prepare an area where you can blow dust. You will use compressed air and a vacuum cleaner to remove most of the dust from inside the computer, so you should prepare an area where you can blow dust without worrying about dirtying other things. A good alternative could be a garage, or a work table. You can also go outside if it is not raining.
- Try to prepare a table so that you can easily access the computer without having to crouch or leave it on the floor.
Gather the supplies. You will need a Phillips screwdriver, compressed air (you can use canned air or a compressor), a small vacuum cleaner that can be inserted into narrow cavities, a toothbrush and 99% isopropyl alcohol.
- Do not use an old metal-tipped vacuum cleaner as it is usually not properly grounded and could damage your components. The best option is a new hand vacuum with extendable plastic hose.
- The toothbrush should be new and have soft bristles.
3Shut down the computer and unplug all peripherals. Turn off your computer and disconnect all cables from the back. Make sure the monitor, all USB cables, Ethernet cables, speakers, and everything else are unplugged. Turn on the power supply switch and also remove the power cord.
4Put the computer on its side. Support the computer on your side, above your desk or workspace. Make sure that the rear connectors are located as close to the surface as possible. These connectors are plugged into the motherboard and can help you verify that the side panel you are removing is correct.
Remove the side panel. Remove the screws that hold the side panel in place. You can find these screws along the back of the computer. The most modern cabinets or towers have butterfly screws and you can remove them without using tools. However, if it is old or if the thumbscrews are tight, you will need a screwdriver.
- Leave the screws separately so you do not lose them.
Suck the dust a little to begin. Depending on how much time has passed and the environment where you have been, you might encounter a rather ugly picture. The dust tends to pile up and cover the components, so the interior could be covered by a thin gray layer. Use the vacuum cleaner to make a pass through the interior, suctioning the large accumulations of dust that are on the components and in the cavities  .
- When moving the vacuum cleaner inside, be careful not to hit any of the components with the tip. Many of the interior components are very fragile and if you bend any of the pins or connectors you could disable the hardware.
Use the compressed air to blow the dust and remove it from the cavities. Take your can of compressed air or your air compressor and blow out those cavities that are hard to reach. Use the vacuum cleaner to help reduce the amount of dust that is dispersed in the form of a cloud.
- Avoid making long and sustained blows. If you do, the can will get too cold and you will not be able to hold it.
- Do not blow compressed air in the fans. If you blow on the fans you could make them spin faster than the speed for which they were designed and could end up damaging them.
Clean fans with vacuum cleaner and alcohol. Use the vacuum cleaner to remove large amounts of dust from the fan blades. Soak the toothbrush in alcohol and brush the dust that is still attached to the blades.
- You could access the fans more easily if you remove them first. You will need to remove the screws securing the fan to the chassis and then disconnect the cable connecting the fan to the motherboard. Be sure to observe where the fan was connected so that you can easily reconnect it when you have finished cleaning.
- Be sure to reconnect the fan in the same direction as it was originally installed. The fans rotate in one direction and if you invert it could produce a direct impact on the cooling of your computer. Most fans have an arrow printed on the top of the housing, which indicates which direction they rotate.
Remove components for deep cleaning. Even though vacuuming and dusting is usually enough to do a basic cleaning, you’d better remove the individual components to make them look shiny again. Be sure to ground before touching any internal components. When removing the components, place them on an anti-static surface, such as wood or rubber  .
- You can remove the graphics card by removing the screws that hold it to the cabinet, loosening the flap underneath it and pulling it directly with great care. You may need to disconnect power cords to remove it completely. Leave the graphic card on the cleaning surface and use the brush with alcohol to remove dust difficult to clean.
- Removing the hard drive and optical drives may make it easier to clean them as they often get stuck in hard-to-reach trays. Normally, to remove these units you must open both sides of the cabinet or tower so that you can reach the screws that hold your two sides. Most optical drives can be removed by pulling them from the front of the cabinet once the screws are removed.
- Removing the fan from the processor (CPU) will allow you to clean the cracks of the heat sink as well as brush the dust therein. Heatsinks can be attached in different ways so be sure to read the manual before attempting to remove them. Some require you to remove a bracket that is located on the back of the motherboard. If you remove the processor fan, you will need to apply a new layer of thermal paste on the CPU before you replace it.
10Clean the dust from the grills. Depending on the cabinet or tower you have, there may be grilles for the fans and to allow airflow. Use the compressed air to blow from the inside of the cabinet and then use a duster to clean the outside of the grille.