How to Clean Your PC of Dust

If you’re looking to remove dust from your PC safely without damaging anything especially sensitive, like your motherboard, you’re probably looking to find the safest way. Typically, this involves actually touching the components of your PC as little as possible (with the exception of carefully removing your graphics card and other components for a more thorough cleaning).

Items Needed:

  • Can of compressed air
  • Lint-free cloth
  • 99 percent isopropyl alcohol or a damp cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Zip ties (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)

Instructions for Removing Dust From Your Computer

  1. Begin by turning off the computer and unplugging it from its power source.
  2. Unplug any peripherals to free up all the USB slots for cleaning.
  3. Take your PC to a well-ventilated, open area. This will help prevent you from breathing in any excess dust and keep the dust from blowing around back into the PC.
  4. Unscrew the side of your case.
  5. Most PC setups will feature easily removable components which we recommend removing (RAM sticks, video cards, and hard drives). This isn’t 100% necessary, but it will allow for a more thorough cleaning of your PC.
  6. Remaining a few inches away from the surface, begin cleaning any components you have removed, using the compressed air to clean any noticeable spots with significant dust build-up. Though there’s often a negligible amount of moisture within compressed air cans, remaining a few inches away from the surface will help prevent any moisture from reaching sensitive components such as the motherboard, processor, etc.
  7. (Note: When cleaning any fans/components with built-in fans, use a pen, pencil, or your finger to prevent the fan from spinning while blowing the dust off. Spinning them too fast can cause some more fragile fans to crack. As a finishing touch, you can use a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to wipe down the fan blades.)
  8. Now moving to the inside of the case, begin by cleaning the RAM slots, running the compressed air through the entire length of each RAM slot.
  9. Next, move to the CPU fan and power supply. Again, we recommend using something to stop the fans from spinning while blowing air through them. Use the compressed air to blow out any loose dust that has accumulated within the case. If any residual dust build-up remains afterward at the bottom of your case, use a very lightly dampened (make sure it is not too wet) to wipe out the bottom.
  10. Make sure to test all of the fans to make sure they’re still spinning correctly. If not, it’s probably time to replace them.
  11. (Optional) If you have a custom-built computer and would like to declutter/organize your cables, now is a perfect time to do so. You can begin by disconnecting all the cables that need to be tied together. Make sure to write down/take a picture of where they all connect to use as a reference when plugging them back in. Begin grouping the cables into sets for their respective ports, and once you have an organized bunch, use the zip tie to bind the cables together. Use the scissors to cut off any excess length from the zip ties. Repeat this process for as many clusters of cables as possible, neatly tucking away the bunched cables in an organized fashion. Plug the cables back into their respective ports.
  12. Make sure to replace any peripheral components you removed while cleaning.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your PC?

During the course of daily use, your PC will begin to build-up dust with the case and around connection ports. As dust builds up within the components of your PC, it can begin to reduce the cooling efficiency of your PC. Over time, this reduction in cooling efficiency can eventually lead to overheating, thereby shortening the lifespan of your PC components.

How Often Should You Clean Your PC?

How often you should clean your PC will largely depend on the environment and space around your computer. Anyone who owns pets that shed, who smoke around their PC, and/or anyone who lives in a particularly dusty environment will have to clean their PC more often, around every six months. Another factor contributing to dust build-up is the placement of your case, with cases resting on the floor generally collecting more dust than those resting on top of desks/other furniture. If none of these factors apply to you, cleaning your PC once every year should be sufficient, though your mileage may vary.