Tip of the Week: How to Clean Your PC Like an IT Pro


Just as anything else will, a computing device will need some TLC to keep it physically clean and in tip-top shape. In order to clean your system safely, you will need proper tools, and the know how to properly clean your PC.

For a basic cleaning, a can or two of compressed air and lint-free wipes should suffice. For jobs that will require a little more elbow grease, you will need to add a few more items to this list–a small screwdriver, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol (make sure it’s isopropyl, and not ethyl-based).

Cleaning Out the Desktop
Before you get started, keep in mind that you’ll be dealing with some pretty sensitive hardware. We highly recommend having an experienced technician handle this for you.

First and foremost, you’ll want to completely power-down your system. This includes not only powering down the machine but also killing power to the surge protector it is plugged into and removing the power supply cord from your system. Wipe down the case exterior using a static-free dust cloth and get rid of dust that has been caught in the external vents, preferably by using your compressed air once the case has been opened. For dust bunnies of above-average size and other assorted crumbs, carefully go through and wipe them away with cotton swabs before using the compressed air to rid the system of the remaining dust.

As you use the compressed air, be sure not to sustain the stream for too long, as it could damage some of the more sensitive components of your system. You should also be very careful of what you touch in the system and avoid any bare or soldered wire to avoid serious electric shock. As you will almost certainly be generating static, make sure that you touch the metal and plastic frameworks frequently enough to keep you fairly equalized.

Once you’ve finished with that, close the case back up and go over it again with your dust cloth.

While it may be tempting to just take a vacuum to the buildup of dust in your system, don’t. The bristles on the vacuum are notorious for generating static, which can easily damage the delicate internal parts that your system relies on to function.

Making Your Screen Spic and Span
There is little more annoying than fingerprints and smudges streaking up your screen, especially when you are trying to focus on your work. Fortunately, cleaning the screen of your display is fairly similar to cleaning a window, with a few special considerations.

If you utilize an LCD display, applying a half and half mixture of distilled water and white vinegar to a microfiber cloth and gently wiping the screen works wonders to rid it of debris. If you still operate a CRT monitor, an ammonia-free glass cleaner will do just fine while preserving the screen’s coating. Make sure that you don’t spray the device with whatever liquid you use in either case. Instead, apply the cleanser directly to the cloth and wipe down the screen that way.

Keeping the Keyboard and Mouse Clean
Of all of your computer’s components, the keyboard and mouse will be the ones that are exposed to the most debris and bacteria as they are handled almost constantly during computer use. To do a basic cleaning, unplug your keyboard from the rest of the system and turn it upside-down, gently shaking it to dislodge any crumbs and other particles that are trapped between the keys. Another option is to use a can of compressed air, spraying between the keys at a 45-degree angle. Once you’re confident that most of the accumulated mess is cleared away, gently flip it over and shake it out again before carefully wiping it with an antibacterial wipe and drying it with a microfiber cloth.

If your keyboard is a membrane type keyboard, it is possible to remove the keys to get a good, comprehensive clean. Before you do so, be sure to create a record of the keyboard’s layout so your keys may be replaced properly.

To remove the keycaps, use the small screwdriver to gently pry them from their housing. However, because they can be difficult to put back on, leave larger keys (like the space bar, shift, and enter) on the keyboard as it is being cleaned. Use compressed air, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol to clean out the grime that was hiding under the keys. Once you’re satisfied, snap the keycaps back in place and test thoroughly.

As far as the mouse goes, the overwhelmingly more common LED-sensor models will only need to be wiped down with a lint-free cloth and a few quick swabs of rubbing alcohol.

A Clean Workstation is a Happy Workstation
Keeping your computer clean can provide many benefits beyond just the aesthetic value. Equipment will likely run better, last longer, and be less apt to make you sick through exposure to simmering bacteria and germs. For more ways to optimize your technology experiences, make sure you keep checking back to our blog.