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Spring Cleaning: How to clean your computer

There is no reason that your personal technology can’t be as clean, and healthy, as possible.


Today's technology is often perceived as omnipresent, invasive, dependable, and clean. Since the late 50s, technology and the future have been presented to us with the sheen of sleek white, shiny surfaces and clean metallic lines. Even our current technology clings to the antiquated ideal of sleekness, simplicity, and style that never once shows an ounce or speck of dirt, grime, or wear.

Unfortunately, this is marketing and advertising at its best and far from the real truth. Our technological everyday wonders are some of the dirtiest items we will touch in our daily lives. Not convinced? How often do you wash your hands before touching your keyboard or tablet? I would guess not as often as you should, once you think about it.

While a desktop computer keyboard is far removed from surfaces that we consider ultra-clean, like hospitals, doctor's offices, and data recovery labs, there is no reason that your personal technology can't be as clean, and healthy, as possible.


A simple search will easily reveal pages upon pages of tips and tricks to "clean" your computer, which mostly covers defragmenting, removing programs, and running anti-virus. Few, if any, pages will mention the benefits or techniques of attacking the dust that builds up inside a computer. Dust is a great insulator of heat and heat buildup is detrimental many components that make up your computer. Luckily, cleaning out the inside of your computer is relatively simple.

As wonderful an idea as it may seem, do not try to vacuum out the inside of your computer. While it may seem the simplest way to remove the dust buildup from inside your pc, the downside is that vacuums have a buildup of their own, static electricity, and the discharge from your vacuum could do significant damage.

Take your PC to a well-ventilated room or area in your home, remove the side panels or case covering, and use compressed air. The most important areas to focus on are the fans and heat sinks where reduced airflow can add to the already detrimental heat buildup created by the layers of dust. Once those areas are as clean as possible, make sure you remove any other visible dust buildup.

Your laptop pc is just as important to clean out, but much more difficult than the desktop pc. Laptops constantly fight a losing battle with heat dissipation from the moment one is first powered up. Dust buildup in the limited space within a laptop makes its removal a priority. Unfortunately, accessing the interior of a laptop is difficult, may require removing more pieces that a desktop, and often will void a warranty. Be sure to consult your laptop owner's manual for cleaning best practices.


You may think of your keyboard as part of your pc, but in considering its cleanliness, the keyboard stands alone. Keyboards are filthy pieces of technology, so much so that popular television show Mythbusters tested a myth that keyboards were dirtier than a toilet seat.

The very nature of how we use keyboards contributes to the layers of dirt and grime that build up. Each time you touch a key, oil is transferred from your fingers onto the keys and each of the seemingly tiny spaces between the keys provide breeding grounds for skin flakes, crumbs, and other detritus to fester and grow.

Cleaning your keyboard is relatively simple and easy, for the most part. First, remove your keyboard from your desk and unplug it. Then take the keyboard to a well-ventilated room and shake it out over a trashcan. This should remove most of the larger pieces of dust, trash, and skin. Once completed, use a lint-free, dampened cloth to scrape away the oil and grime that has built up on the keys and other surfaces of the keyboard.

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