Over time, more and more dust accumulates in the PC case. This mainly affects the cooling. This means that the computer is not able to call up its full performance. Accordingly, regular cleaning of the PC makes sense.
I’ll show you how to proceed when cleaning the components and the case, so that the PC looks like new again after cleaning. Furthermore I answer frequently asked questions about this topic in a FAQ.
Table of Contents
What tools do I need to clean my computer?
The best utensils for cleaning the PC are either Compressed air spray cans or air compressors. For a little tighter dirt, I can use a bristle brush… and old toothbrushes .
You often hear on forums that you shouldn’t use compressed air to clean your Pc because water gets on the components when you spray.
The statement is not entirely false. Because as soon as you hold the compressed air spray can incorrectly, it can happen that a little water escapes and drips onto the PC parts.
However, if you hold the spray can vertically in the air, no water will come out. Nevertheless, before you start cleaning the PC, you have to spray the air a few times with the compressed air can. Because during the first spray attempts, some dirt and condensation still comes out of the nozzle. Afterwards you spray best in the distance of 5- 10 cm on the components.
Should a few drops of condensation actually have settled on the components of the computer, that’s not so bad. Your computer should usually be able to handle this little mishap if you unplugged it before cleaning. However, it is important to let the PC dry for a long time. Otherwise, you may cause a short circuit when you reconnect the computer to power.
A cheaper alternative to compressed air spray cans in the long run, are portable compressors. These are not quite as handy as compressed air spray cans, but they are more ecological. In any case, you must buy an oil-free air compressor, otherwise your components may be damaged by the oil film.
With a Vacuum cleaner or dry cloth you can also try cleaning the housing. However, you can’t get into the hard-to-reach rooms with these two utensils. And that’s where the dust settles the most, as we all know. On the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner you should fix a pair of women’s pantyhose or old sock. This prevents small parts from being sucked into the vacuum cleaner.
Furthermore, you can try it with a hair dryer, whereby you should set the temperature of the hair dryer to the lowest level. Unfortunately, I had to make the experience that the nozzle of my hairdryer was too big and thus too little pressure could be built up. Consequently, cleaning with the hair dryer only caused all the dust to be stirred up and then later settled back into the case. Consequently, cleaning with a hair dryer tended to backfire.
Two other alternatives from forums would be: A hand bellows or a compressed air pump. You should also be able to blow the dust away with it. But these methods are more elaborate and, accordingly, take more time. Also, I haven’t tested these tools yet, so I can’t say if they really work.
However, you should not use feather dusters to clean your computer, as they can become electrostatically charged.
This is the best way to clean your PC!
First you have to switch off the PC and disconnect all cables.
Afterwards you put your Pc to the cleaning either on the ground or at best on a table. The subfloor should not be carpet , but parquet, laminate or stone floor. Furthermore, you should not wear clothes made of pure polyester or cotton . Otherwise there is a risk that you will be constantly electrostatically charged. The electrostatic charge can damage the components under certain circumstances.
Generally, I would not do the cleaning of the computer indoors, but outdoors. Otherwise, you’re just moving the dust from your PC to your room. This will eventually cause the dust to settle back into your home and eventually be pulled back into the pc by the fans.
It is also recommended to ground yourself before installing or removing components in the computer. To do this, simply touch an unpainted, grounded piece of metal , such as a heating pipe. For maximum safety, you can also purchase a grounded ESD bracelet. As soon as you have done this step, you can already take off the side wall.
Before you start cleaning the computer, you have to press the start button of the PC several times or, if available, press the discharge switch on the mainboard. This is because the capacitors of the power supply can store the current for a very long time. So if you don’t discharge the power supply capacitors, you can quickly get a wipe.
Then you should remove your graphics card and CPU cooler. Because a lot of dust always collects between the fans of these two components.
In the installed condition, you can clean the fans only very cumbersome. Accordingly, it makes sense to remove the mainboard with the processor cooler and the graphics card.
Before you start blowing, however, you must absolutely block the fans. Otherwise the rotors will reach too high a speed, which is extremely bad for the ball bearings. In addition, it can happen that a reverse voltage is induced when the fans are turned in the other direction than in normal PC operation. However, the second-named effect usually does not play a major role nowadays.
But never use your fingers to fix the fans. Instead, take a pen or screwdriver and carefully insert it into the opening so that the rotors can no longer move.
After you have completed this step, place the motherboard and graphics card on an anti-static surface. Then carefully blow the CPU and Garfik card fan with compressed air. Especially the lamellas of the graphics card are particularly affected by dirt. Accordingly, it is also necessary to spray them thoroughly. If you have a water cooling system, remove the radiator and blow through it.
If you have already removed the mainboard, it is also a good idea to renew the thermal paste between CPU and cooler.
You must be especially careful when cleaning the power supply. Before cleaning you must have discharged the capacitors. Then remove the power supply so that the fan is exposed. You can only get through the fine protective grille with a thin attachment. As soon as you have put a suitable nozzle on your compressed air bottle or compressor, you can blow through the power pack. Damp wiping must be avoided at all costs in the vicinity of the power supply unit.
Afterwards I would first remove all dust filters and clean them. To do this, first vacuum the dust with a small handheld vacuum cleaner and then wipe over it with a slightly damp cloth.
After that, it’s best to blow out the case fans . Again you have to take care that the fans are fixed in order not to destroy the ball bearings.
Before you reinstall the mainboard and the graphics card, spray the entire case with compressed air or vacuum or wipe away the dust. Depending on what works best for you. This will also clean the hard drives (HDDs and SSDs), as well as any drives and cables. You may need to remove some of the above components to reach the hard-to-reach areas.
Also in the interfaces, like in the HDMI port, PCI slots, LAN port or USB ports, an extremely large amount of dirt collects over time. In addition, the dust is compacted by the constant plugging in and unplugging.
If the pressure of the compressor or the compressed air spray can is not sufficient to loosen the compacted dust, you must first loosen it with a pointed object.
For this you take a brush or a toothpick. Afterwards you can blow out the small dirt particles or vacuum them directly with a small hand-held vacuum cleaner.
When reassembling, make sure that no cables have come loose or are jammed between the side panels or fans and are blocking anything.
If the instructions sound too complicated for you, feel free to ask me your questions in the comments . Or just ask your local computer store or Saturn or Media Markt if they can clean your PC.
FAQ about computer cleaning!
Below I have answered five more frequently asked questions:
How do you clean a pc without having to unscrew it (warranty)?
If your gaming PC or desktop computer still has a warranty, you may not be allowed to change anything on your own. Consequently, if you remove the sticker on the side panel, you will void your warranty.
You have to distinguish between warranty and guarantee. The warranty is 24 months, is regulated by law and applies to every product from the seller. In the first 6 months you can complain without any problems, afterwards you have to prove defects in detail. The warranty is a voluntary bonus of the product manufacturer. Accordingly, the manufacturer can determine the term and conditions itself. Be sure to read the article “How warranty and guarantee differ” by Daniel Pöhler.
However, some manufacturers allow the cleaning of the PC and consequently the damage of the emblem. If I were you, I would ask the manufacturer of the computer about this.
If your manufacturer allows cleaning, simply follow the instructions. If you are not allowed to open the case, you can try to fix the fans and vacuum them with a small hand vacuum cleaner.
Since this method probably won’t help much, I wouldn’t clean the computer until the warranty is voided. As a rule, cleaning the components during the warranty period is not even necessary for performance reasons.
How do I clean a smoking pc?
The nicotine released by smoking settles on the dust layer and forms a disgusting dust-nicotine layer, which is extremely sticky. The nicotine does not destroy the components, but in combination with the dust it is extremely difficult to remove.
Then the vacuum cleaner or hair dryer will definitely not help. For cleaning a smoking PC you need an air compressor instead. Sometimes compressed air spray cans still have enough power to remove the sticky layer of dust.
This will reduce most of the dust nicotine layer, but you won’t get an excellent result and the computer will still stink of smoke.
I would recommend that you completely disassemble the computer and clean all the components individually.
Through some forum posts, I’ve learned that wiping several times with a rag with isopropyl alcohol, is supposed to help best in removing the sticky layer and stench.
Finally, you can hang a fragrance tree in the enclosure.
As a last tip, I advise you never to buy a computer from a smoker’s household, even if the components should be much cheaper. As you can see, otherwise you will have to make a huge effort to rid the computer of the stench again.
As a smoker, I would recommend that you only consume cigarettes outdoors. But this advice is surely already known to you yourself. In any case, with this tip, you can geta much higher resale value for your PC components.
Clean variant with removal of the smoker’s smell
Does dust damage the computer?
A little dust always settles on the components in the computer. This cannot be avoided and has no effect on the performance of your PC. However, if there are huge piles of dust in your case, the enormous dust masses can minimize the effectiveness of the coolers, as they have a harder time blowing the warm air to the outside.
Accordingly, the entire system is no longer cooled sufficiently and consequently the complete performance of the PC must be limited . Otherwise, some components could overheat and be destroyed.
How do I keep my PC dust free?
If your PC is placed on smooth laminate, parquet and tiled floors, more dust will accumulate in the case as the dust is more easily dragged across the floor. However, in uneven carpeting , the dust always settles between the constant bumps.
To create an overpressure , the air flow sucking into the housing must be greater than the air flow blowing out of the housing. For example, you can install two intake fans and one outward-blowing fan. Whereby it is not the number of fans that matters, but the performance.
Furthermore, dust mainly gets into the case through the fans. So you can install dust filters in front of the fans to minimize the dust layers inside the case drastically.
While proper cable management doesn’t reduce dust, it does make cleaning your PC a lot easier. In addition, cables that are not fixed can affect the airflow or, in the worst case, get jammed in the fans.
How often do you have to clean your PC?
There is no general answer to this question. In fact, how often you need to clean your PC depends on four main factors:
1.where is your computer?
If you have placed your PC on a smooth floor, such as tiles or laminate, more dust will accumulate in the case than if it is placed on a carpeted floor.
2. do you use dust filters?
Dust filters can trap a lot of dust before it gets into the housing!
3. are your components overclocked?
With overclocked graphics cards or CPUs you need better cooling. However, the entire fan system functions worse due to the dust.
4. how strong are your fans?
Quiet, low-power case fans draw less air and the associated dust into the case than powerful coolers.
I clean my computer extremely thoroughly once a year when it’s not yet so hot outside, which is April or May. I proceed as described in the instructions: With removal of the graphics card and the CPU cooler and simultaneous replacement of the thermal paste.
Then after every 4 months I do another short cleaning. But in doing so, I just quickly wipe over all the components with a dry rag. If necessary, I also clean my dust filters and case fans. But this process is usually not necessary.
I also clean the dust from the outer casing every two weeks with a slightly damp cloth.