Keeping computers clean inside and out is a vital part of a maintenance program. Dirt can cause problems with the physical operation of fans, buttons, and other mechanical components. Figure 1 shows severe dust buildup on computer components. On electrical components, an excessive buildup of dust acts like an insulator and traps the heat. This insulation impairs the ability of heat sinks and cooling fans to keep components cool, causing chips and circuits to overheat and fail.
NOTE: When using compressed air to clean inside the computer, blow the air around the components with a minimum distance of 4 inches (10 cm) from the nozzle. Clean the power supply and the fan from the back of the case.
CAUTION: Before cleaning any device, turn it off and unplug the device from the power source.
Computer Cases and Monitors
Clean computer cases and the outside of monitors with a mild cleaning solution on a damp, lint-free cloth. Mix one drop of dishwashing liquid with 4 oz (118 ml) of water to create the cleaning solution. If water drips inside the case, allow enough time for the liquid to dry before powering on the computer.
Do not use ammoniated glass cleaners or any other solution on an LCD screen, unless the cleaner is specifically designed for the purpose. Harsh chemicals damage the coating on the screen. There is no glass protecting these screens, so be gentle when cleaning them and do not press firmly on the screen.
To clean the screens of CRT monitors, dampen a soft, clean, lint-free cloth with distilled water and wipe the screen from top to bottom. Then use a soft, dry cloth to wipe the screen and remove streaking.
Clean dusty components with a can of compressed air. Compressed air does not cause electrostatic buildup on components. Make sure that you are in a well-ventilated area before blowing the dust out of the computer. A best practice is to wear a dust mask to make sure that you do not breathe in the dust particles.
Blow out the dust using short bursts from the can. Never tip the can or use the can upside down. Do not allow the fan blades to spin from the force of the compressed air. Hold the fan in place. Fan motors can be ruined from spinning when the motor is not turned on.
Clean the contacts on components with isopropyl alcohol. Do not use rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol contains impurities that can damage contacts. Make sure that the contacts do not collect lint from the cloth or cotton swab. Before reinstallation, use compressed air to blow lint off the contacts.
Clean a desktop keyboard with compressed air and then use a hand-held vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove the loose dust.
CAUTION: Never use a standard vacuum cleaner inside a computer case. The plastic parts of the vacuum cleaner can build up static electricity and discharge to the components. Use only vacuums that are approved for electronic components.
Use glass cleaner and a soft cloth to clean the outside of the mouse. Do not spray glass cleaner directly on the mouse. If cleaning a ball mouse, you can remove the ball and clean it with glass cleaner and a soft cloth. Wipe the rollers clean inside the mouse with the same cloth. Do not spray any liquids inside the mouse.
The chart in Figure 2 shows the computer items that you should clean and the cleaning materials to use.