How to clean your computer

Learn how to clean your computer safely in five easy steps.

Are dust and grime slowing your computer down? Gunk in the air-vents and crumbs in the keyboard could be doing damage. Learn how to clean your computer safely in five easy steps.


A screwdriver
A can of pressurised air (available at Officeworks for under $5)
Cotton buds (do not use a cotton ball)
Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol
Soft, lint-free cloth
Safety glasses (optional)

Step 1: Turn off the power

Turn off the power to your computer, remove any plugs or remove the battery if you are using a laptop. Ensure that all power sources are removed 30 minutes before you start to clean. All components should be removed from the computer and any external power sources before cleaning.

Step 2: Inside the computer

Before opening your computer check your warranty. Some computers, especially Macs, state that opening the case will void your warranty. If this is the case and you feel your computer needs cleaning then you can take it into the store to have it done professionally. If there is nothing in your warranty about opening the case then read on.

To open a desktop: opening the tower on a desktop computer depends on the age of your machine. Older computers will have four screws holding the side of the case on. Newer models may have a push button on the back of the machine. Read your user manual to find out how to open it up.

To open a laptop: turn the laptop upside down on a towel. On most laptops the vents on the underside will be grouped together on a removable panel. Undo the screws, taking note of what goes where, and remove the panel.

Once you have your computer open remember to touch as little as possible, particularly with your hands. Pick bits of fluff out with tweezers or a cotton swab, and then use your compressed air around all of the components and the bottom of the case. Try to angle the compressed air so that any dust is blown back out of an opening, rather than further into the crevices. Never get the air nozzle closer than 5cm to the machine. Remember that you are not trying to blast, but rather encourage, the dust out of your machine. Take extra care around the delicate fans, as these can break if spun too fast.

Click NEXT to find out how to clean your computer peripherals

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    To make a comment, please register or login

    10th Feb 2014
    I use the vacuum cleaner with just a soft rubber nozzle adaptor, and a soft 25mm paintbrush, to brush all the dust and dirt off. A can of pressurised air only blows dust elsewhere - a vacuum cleaner sucks it all up and disposes of it.

    The paintbrush removes sticky dust, as a lot of dust particles pick up greasiness and stick in a thick layer that is often difficult to remove. Swishing with the paintbrush gets into all the nooks and crevices and cleans the blades on the fans effectively.

    Pay particular attention to the Power Supply Unit (PSU), which is the small transformer located at the top rear of desktops and in various positions near the outside edge of laptops. The PSU converts 240V into the 5 volts and 12 volts required by the motherboard and other components.

    The PSU gathers the most amount of dust and is most affected by it.
    In particular, it's critical to ensure the PSU fan is clean and spinning well - because a choked fan on a PSU means it will overheat and fry itself, meaning your computer will drop dead in its tracks with no power, and you'll be up for a new PSU.

    The second critical area is the CPU (the processor) and its fan. This is located near the middle of the motherboard. Ensure the fins under the CPU fan and the fan itself are spotlessly clean, or the CPU will overheat, and your computer will die.
    A new CPU can set you back $200-250 minimum, just for the part, without installation.
    I find I need to thoroughly clean my desktop about every 6 mths, the dust just never stops coming.
    17th Dec 2015
    Whilst the cleaning tips are fine, the headline that dust and grime could "slow your computer down" is just weird, or maybe just amateurish.
    18th Dec 2015
    It's not an incorrect headline or opening statement.
    Dust buildup makes fans slow down, and clogs vents, making CPU's and video cards overheat.
    Overheating processors and cards result in reduced performance.
    The CPU will cut back its clock speed when it encounters high temperatures to try and reduce its heat output.
    A slower running processor then results in slower computer performance.
    Nan Norma
    23rd Mar 2016
    I've found Mr Sheen cleans the desktop beautifully.
    5th Apr 2017
    I wonder why you would recommend or show a site or a program to down load that is annoying , You can`t remove unless you PAY !! or remove & uninstall it I tried Pc - Medic it installed ok I did a clean but to complete the clean it will take you to a pay now !! site and you can not leave without paying or other restart Comp` and uninstall YUK !! , beware do not use this it should not be shown here , George42
    7th Apr 2017
    Thanks for the very important information on how to clean your computer.

    As it's Friday and on a lighter note, this is a funny way to do it -

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