We all heard about spring cleaning but many just think of it for the home. With the amount of time we spend on our computers, we should not neglect them. Whether your computer is a desktop or laptop, dust and lint can clog the cooling vents. This can lead to overheating and eventually cause component failure. Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road. Below are just a few simple steps you can add to your clean-up and maintenance routine to keep your computer and accessories looking shinny and new. It is so easy and best of all you can do it yourself.

Before you tackle your computer make sure it is powered off and disconnected from the power source.

Step 1: Inside the case

Look for dust or other debris accumulating by the cooling vents. To remove it you will need to open the case. This may sound a little intimidating but it really is not. Be wary of the manufacturer’s policy because sometimes opening up the case may void the warranty.

For desktop computers you may need to remove a variety of fastening mechanisms. Look at the back of the case; you may see two small knobs that you can turn with your finger or buttons that you may need to press in. These will most likely release a side panel or the entire shell of the case. If in doubt, consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions, many of them are available on the internet.

For laptops and notebooks, the first thing is to remove the battery. You may need to set the computer upside down. On most portable systems the vents are on the underside. A small screwdriver will be needed to remove the screws that hold the bottom of the case together.

After you are inside try to avoid touching internal components with your fingers. Look for dust bunnies and simple use tweezers to pluck them away or use a cotton swab to gently whisk them away. You can also use compressed air canisters to blow air into the power supply, media drives, USB ports and fan and in the nooks and crannies of components. When using compressed air it is recommended to keep the nozzle at least 4 inches away to prevent damage. It is recommended to do this every three months.

Step 2: Outside the case

Run a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol around the openings of the outside of the case. Just a swipe the damp side first and turn the swab around swipe again. This prevents any liquid from causing damage.

Step 3: Keyboard

We touch our keyboards a lot, sometimes eating and drinking in front of our computers. We do not recognize how many food particles and dust are hidden from our eyes. Turning the keyboard upside down and gently shaking it will allow most crumbs and dust to fall out. Using a can of compressed air and blow into the keys will remove anything else trapped inside. With some rubbing alcohol and a handful of cotton swabs, just dip and rub around the outside of the keys and at the top of each key. This is the most tedious to do and try not to be stingy on the swabs, if you notice a little discolouration replace the swab with a clean one. It is recommended to clean your keyboard monthly.

Step 4: Mouse

First thing to do is disconnect the mouse from the computer. If you use a portable computer with a touch pad  a damp cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and a few strokes cleans it. An external mouse will require some paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol. Wipe the outside with the damp paper towel. You can use a damp cotton swap to wipe the bottom of laser mice but always ensure you wipe it again with the dry end of the swab. It is recommended to clean your mouse monthly.

Step 5: Monitor

For LCD and LED monitors, moisten a microfibre cloth with some clean tap water. Gently wipe the monitor screen first. Using paper towel, glass cleaner, alcohol or ammonia containing liquid will damage the screen’s anti glare coating. You can purchase monitor cleaning products stores as well.

For the television-style monitors, ordinary glass cleaning solution and a microfibre cloth will be sufficient to clean. Never try to open the housing of your monitor, as it can damage the screen or cause injury onto yourself as the capacitors inside can hold an electric charge. It is recommended to clean your monitor once a week.

Step 6: Plug and Power On

After ensuring everything is dry and that there is no more moisture on any components cleaned, you can plug everything together and turn it on.

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