How to Physically Clean Your Computer – DIY in 5 Ep 176

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Published on 17 Jul 2022, 13:00
Computers are as prone to getting dusty as any other possession. Dust and dirt in and on your PC can cause issues such as overheating and slowing down, and can even damage machines if left unchecked. DIY in 5 can help with tips on keeping your computer physically clean to extend its lifespan.

The first thing you can do to preserve your computer is to keep it off the floor, particularly carpet. Computers in homes with furry friends may have to deal with shedding fur clogging fans and other parts. A stand or shelf that can hold your tower off the floor can be useful, if you don’t have room for it on your desk. Dust buildup can seriously hinder fan efficiency. You may notice a drop in airflow when your CPU begins to run hotter. Your fan may sound louder as it tries to work harder in order to provide the same effect.

We have some simple cleaning tips that can prevent this issue. We recommend that you wear an anti-static wristband to avoid causing static damage to your components while cleaning; or at least frequently grounding yourself by touching the case. When working inside a PC, wear shoes with rubber soles, and avoid working on carpet if you can. As with any cleaning, it helps to wear a dust mask or respirator.

Unplug your computer and move it to somewhere well-ventilated, or at least somewhere with an open door or window. Remove your computer’s side (and if possible, front) panels. Use a lint-free cloth or can of compressed air to clean out dust filters or collections in the case. Vacuum up dust that has fallen outside of the case, but do not vacuum inside.

If your computer is groaning and grinding loud enough to sound human, you may need to deep clean. That requires removing many of the components in the case. We don’t advise removing the CPU, but easily extractable components like RAM sticks, video cards, and hard drives can all come out (and be carefully placed on a non-conductive surface). Clean all crevices, heat sinks, dust filters, and surfaces with compressed air and a lint-free cloth. Be sure to clean each individual fan blade. If blades aren’t moving even after cleaning, they may need to be replaced. You can use isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs to clean oil or fingerprints off. In covered areas, components such as graphics cards may get dusty. You may be able to disassemble them to clean thoroughly, but some will void your warranty to open and require specific tools. Use compressed air with a straw as an alternative, to dislodge stubborn dust. A damp cloth, not too wet, can also pick up a lot of dust and grime from cases.

When reassembling your computer, do cable management to avoid dust buildup. Check our previous videos for a DIY in 5 that focuses on cable management.

Dust your computer every 3-6 months, and deep clean at least once every two years to avoid overheating risks. Deep cleans every year or less is a good habit to maintain to keep your computer ticking along nicely. Accumulation of dust will kill your PC’s fans, which reduces airflow, which causes heat, which ages components. A CPU’s fan failing can kill your entire system. Most modern BIOS have a killswitch for this eventuality though. Until your CPU fan is replaced, however, your PC will be unusable. Frequent cleaning can prevent this from happening for many years, however.

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0:00 Intro
1:43 Prepare
2:42 Deep Clean
4:04 Outro
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