Spring Cleaning Your PC

Ah, it’s spring time, one of my favorite times of the year. The Canada Goose makes its triumphant return from south of the border, the kids are riding their bikes in the neighborhoods dodging loud motorcycles, and the lawn looks, well, blah to be honest. It’s the time of the year when we are reminded that it really is great to live in Canada. It’s also the time of year when we need to look at our computer systems and maybe spend some time doing a little housecleaning.

If you’re like me, you procrastinate and don’t really want to clean out the dust bunnies that have accumulated over the winter months, and maybe you don’t give any thought to it. “Why would I dust out my pc?”. Well, I would say 90% of all PC’s use a fan or multiple fans to keep components cool. Processors will have a fan attached to a heatsink that pulls heat from the CPU. And the chassis will usually have 1 or more fans designed to move air through the case. The average 80mm fan moves about 20 cubic feet of air per minute. And with that air comes a lot of dust, dirt, pet hair etc. and that dust tends to stick to electronic components due to static charge.

So how do I safely clean out my pc?

  • Step one – This might sound like common sense, but make sure you turn the PC off.
  • Second – Ensure you ground yourself and discharge any static electricity by touching the metal case of the pc or some other grounded item around you. It’s also a good habit to always keep one hand on the case at all times. This helps ensure you don’t build up static that might discharge into a RAM chip or board.
  • Third – Remove the side or top panel so you have access to the internal components.
  • Forth – Grab a can of compressed air (insert your preferred brand here) and using short blasts of air (from an upright can), blow the dust and debris from the fan(s), drive(s), motherboard etc.
  • Fifth – Marvel at your impressive work and how clean your rig looks.

Things of note:

There was no step indicating that you should unplug the power cable from the PC. This is a step that some will argue with me about, but here’s my theory. The power plug is connected to your homes grounded electrical system. With all components connected at some point to this ground. Keeping the cable connected might prevent static issues during the clean out. Just make sure you don’t turn the PC on while you are performing your clean out.

Avoid having your PC on the floor. Keeping it off the ground will limit the amount of hair and dust that the pc comes in contact with.
Do not use a vacuum to clean out the dust from your PC. Vacuum’s will generate excess static electricity, and you might suck up something important!

Let the PC cool before you spray your compressed air into it. Compressed air comes out quite cold and when that cold air hits your hot components things can break, and you might cause condensation on components.

Don’t use water inside the case, if you need to use a damp cloth to wipe down items, be very careful to not get water on any parts of the motherboard or components. Water and Electronics do not mix.

And lastly, don’t smoke around your PC. The smoke from cigarettes can create a film on the components. The dust sticks to this and causes very poor air circulation.

Safe computing everyone.