Spring clean your technology

Cleaning your devices is a must if you want them to last. Find out the best ways to clean your smartphone, tablet, laptop and computer without damage.


No matter whether you use a desktop monitor, tablet, laptop or smartphone, cleaning your screen regularly ensures smudges and stains are dealt with before they cause any permanent damage.

The method for cleaning your screen is very particular, so that you don’t cause any damage to the fragile surface. The majority of manufacturers recommend that a lint-free cloth is used in the cleaning process. If you don’t have a lint-free cloth, you should be able to purchase one from your local supermarket, computer store or any office supply store. Additionally, you can purchase a specific monitor-cleaning liquid from these stores to help in the cleaning process if you have a significant build-up of smudges, stains and gunk. I personally find water works well enough as long as you clean your screen on a regular basis.

Start by moistening your lint-free cloth with plain water and wipe it gently over your screen to remove any dust. Wash the cloth to remove all traces of dust and wring out to dry. If you have purchased a monitor-cleaning liquid, spray the liquid directly onto your cloth (never spray liquid onto the surface of your screen) and gently wipe your screen (if you have no specific monitor-cleaning liquid, use water, as certain chemicals can severely damage your screen). Run the cloth over areas where marks appear a number of times gently. Wash the liquid out of the cloth and wring out dry. Now wipe your screen a final time with the dry cloth to remove any streaking. You should aim to clean your monitor at least once every three months.

If you’re a smartphone or tablet user, then you’re in luck as the screen is probably the only component you need to clean.


Your average laptop is used for three or more hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s no wonder that a three-monthly service can work wonders to improve its performance. After each service, I can notice the difference in performance and my laptop is much quieter.  

Step One – Turn off

Start by unplugging any attachments such as USB devices, mouse, keyboard, power cord, etc. Now turn your laptop over and remove the battery. Leave your laptop to sit for at least 20 minutes before performing Step Three.

Step Two – Clean the keyboard and mouse

Your keyboard gets the hardest workout of any component on your laptop. In-turn it traps the most amounts of crumbs, dust and also seems to attract a lot of hair. Using a can of compressed air (you should be able to find one at your local supermarket, it may be disguised as a dust removal spray – otherwise your local stationery store will sell them), hold the can tilted towards the gaps in your keyboard and spray all the way along each row to remove trapped dust. If you can clearly see more debris, use a soft brush attachment on a vacuum hose to clean out the remaining items.

To clean the keys of the keyboard, use alcohol wipes/swabs which should be available from your local chemist. Don’t forget to give your mouse a good wipe as well.

Step Three – fix your fan

Probably the most critical component of any laptop is the fan. This component attracts the biggest build-up of dust in a short space of time. A build-up of dust can overheat your components, which makes cleaning the fan every few months a very important step in keeping your laptop working.

Turn your laptop over and look for an air vent on the outer side of the laptop. The fan will be covered by an access panel which needs to be unscrewed. Once you remove the screws and the panel, you should see the fan. If not, put the panel back on and look for another panel. In some laptops, the fan isn’t accessible, but the majority are.

Take your laptop outside with the can of compressed air and blow out the dust from inside and around the fan. If you can see a build-up of dust on other components, give them a blow as well. It is important to keep the bursts short in duration and gentle (don’t hold the can right next to the components).

Finally, wipe down any other component with a dry cotton swab (without rubbing alcohol).

Now, put your laptop back together, plug it in. You may not notice an immediate difference, but your laptop will certainly be thankful for the service. 


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.

Step 3: The computer case

Use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to get into the openings and crevices on the outside of your computer. You can also wipe the whole case over with a soft, lint-free cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

The mouse and keyboard

Turn your keyboard upside down (do not look up at it while doing so) and gently shake it to remove dirt and crumbs. Then use your compressed air to blow in and around the keys to clear out the rest of the dust. The keys can be cleaned with a cotton swab or lint-free cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. The same method applies to a laptop.

To clean your mouse rub the top and bottom over with a soft, lint-free cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. You may need to scrape at the bottom to remove excess gunk. If you have an optical mouse ensure that no dust is obscuring the little red light on the bottom. If you have a mouse with a ball in the bottom turn the mouse upside down, rotate the circle around the ball and open the ball case. The mouse ball should be washed with water and left to dry completely, and the interior can be swabbed over with a cotton bud dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Ensure everything is dry before reconstructing your mouse.

Have you got any tips or tricks for cleaning out your technology?

Drew Patchell
Drew Patchell
Drew Patchell was the Digital Operations Manager of YourLifeChoices. He joined YourLifeChoices in 2005 after completing his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport.
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