Cleaning Inside Of Your Computer

The inside your computer requires regular cleaning, read this article and find out the how to's of computer cleaning.

If your family is like mine, your inventory of home-based electronic devices is growing. This gear requires regular cleaning, especially your PC. Only three decades ago, computers were tractor-trailer sized monsters. Trained engineers sheltered the delicate hardware in dust-free, environmentally controlled rooms. Today's PCs, some as small as three-ring binders, sit on our kitchen counters, bedroom desks, and family room card tables. Family members, including pets, touch the keys and drag the mouse around. The computer collects dust, cracker crumbs, and Popsicle drips. Over time, accumulated grime causes problems.

You can reduce maintenance and cleaning problems by setting your PC in a friendly spot. To protect your PC, keep it in a corner sheltered from direct sunlight and extended periods of fresh air. Place it on a sturdy surface with a good airflow behind the back of the CPU.

When you purchase your PC, the salesperson may also try to sell you a maintenance agreement that includes cleaning. Don't count on seeing a technician unless you initiate the call. Read the contract carefully or you might end up carrying the PC to the store for cleaning or paying for something you won't use. You can pay a local vendor $50 an hour to clean your hardware or you can do it yourself. It's not hard or expensive to keep your PC clean.

You will need a few household supplies: q-tips, soft cloths, and dish soap. The only specialized materials you'll need are canned air and inexpensive kits to clean the drive heads. PC cleaning does not take long and don't worry, you won't damage anything following these instructions. Most PCs have several parts so we'll go through them, one at a time. Before you begin, turn off the power to your PC.


The monitor, like your television screen, attracts dust and sticky fingerprints. You can buy anti-static wipes that double as screen cleaners. If you're getting a shock when you touch the screen, static is a problem at your workstation. Consider placing a plastic mat under the chair to reduce the static build-up. I've found that paper towels work well as screen cleaners. Avoid spraying liquid at your monitor. Moisten the towel and then wipe the screen once a week.


Regular cleaning will keep the keyboard looking new. Use a soft cloth, perhaps a cotton diaper, moistened in a mild soap solution to wipe off the keys. While you're at it, run the cloth over the plastic casing around the monitor and CPU. Be sure to lift the keyboard and dust the surface below. Turn the keyboard upside down to shake out crumbs or use a moist q-tip to remove them.

Avoid allowing water to seep between keys. Keyboards don't like to get soaked. Accidents do happen and I can personally vouch that, if you spill a glass of water on your keyboard, all is not lost. Set the keyboard upside down on a towel. Let it dry overnight and it should be fine. If the keyboard doesn't respond properly after a soaking incident, call in a professional.


The mouse cursor moves on the screen when you slide the pointing device on a padded surface. When you notice that the mouse cursor does not respond quickly, it's time for a cleaning. Most mice have a small cover that protects the ball hidden in the housing. Remove the cover by twisting it, shake out the cracker crumbs, and wipe the ball clean. You should also blow gently into the ball-cage or spray canned air into the opening. Replace the ball and reassemble the mouse. Clean the mouse about once a month, especially if your children are like mine and eat near the PC.

External Drives

Your computer, especially older models, may contain external drives. Floppy, tape, and CD-ROM drives all collect dust. The read-write head in each drive scans the disk or tape as it reads and writes data. A dusty head can scratch the disk or tape and cause maintenance problems. Regular cleaning is a must.

Several commercially available products can help you clean drive heads. These inexpensive products, generally less than $10.00, require you to insert into the drive, a special disk or cartridge moistened with cleaning fluid. Follow manufacturer instructions to force the read-write head to scan the surface. If you're lucky enough to have a drive with a yellow caution light you'll know it's time to clean when the light comes on. Otherwise, try to clean your drives once a month.

Central Processing Unit-CPU

The CPU resides in the metal box holding the computer parts you don't see. The motherboard, the modem, memory cards, and network cards live in slots on the bottom of the metal box. A high-speed fan inside the box prevents overheating as data shuttles around, following your commands. Help the fan do its job and minimize dust accumulation by making sure you have clear air space behind your CPU.

Once or twice a year, or whenever you upgrade the memory cards, remove the screws from the back of the CPU and slide the cover off the box. Tape the screws to the cover while you work. The screws are small and easy to misplace. Aim a can of compressed air towards an open space and spray the dust from the components. You will not hurt your computer by doing this. When you are done, slide the housing back on. It can be a tight fit. Be sure to put the screws back in place.

Your computer is now clean. The cost of PCs has decreased substantially in the last decade but chances are you'll be looking at the same monitor, keyboard and casing for a while. Spend a few minutes taking care of your computer every week. You'll be pleased with the results and save some money too!

© High Speed Ventures 2011