With the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere, homes around the world are getting a good cleaning to rid them of the dirt and clutter that has accumulated over the past year. Dust and debris also settle on our computer. Whether your PC is suffering from an overworked fan or an overworked hard drive, it’s time to give it a thorough cleaning. With the help of the following checklist, this will be a breeze.

In Part 1 of this checklist, I will walk you through the physical cleaning checkpoints of your desktop or laptop. In part two, I’ll list the things you can do to remove obsolete files, unused programs, software, and more from your Windows computer.

Before you clean your computer hardware, keep these general tips in mind:

  • turn off your computer
  • remove the battery (if applicable)
  • unplug the power cable
  • ground yourself

1. Clean your keyboard

A study by the University of Arizona found that a keyboard is dirtier than a toilet seat. Honestly, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard? Dirty keyboards are a health hazard, and spring cleaning is quick and easy.

You can gently vacuum your keyboard to remove particles and dust. Then wipe the keys with a lint-free cloth slightly dampened. Finally, disinfect your keyboard with alcohol wipes or spray an alcohol-based cleaner onto the cloth. If the keyboard is very dirty, you can also take it apart and wash the keys in bulk. Be sure to take a picture of the keyboard first to make it easier to assemble.

The video below is for an external Mac keyboard. However, these steps are equally valid for any other standard external or laptop keyboards.

If you have a modern Mac-like «chiclet» keyboard, check out the bottom section of this article for practical keyboard cleaning tips: how to deal with spilled coffee or cola on your Macbook.

2. Clean your mouse

If your keyboard is dirty, then obviously your mouse is too. You can clean the top surface with a lint-free cloth. Also be sure to thoroughly wipe the LED at the bottom with the Q-tip. If you have an old mechanical ball mouse, remove the ball to remove dust, hair, and particles.

Spring cleaning checklist for your PC.  Part 1: Cleaning the equipment Clean computer mouse

When you’re done, try this Ultimate Mouse Calibration Test.

3. Clean fan/s

If you have a desktop or laptop computer, your CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (GPU) need cooling. This is usually achieved with a fan that cools a heatsink that dissipates heat from the processor/s. When the air intake grille, fan or vents are blocked by dust, cooling becomes less effective. Consequently, processors/s run/heat up faster and more often, which can cause the processor to slow down or fail prematurely. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that the fans, air intake grilles, and vents are well cleaned for optimal airflow and cooling.

Spring cleaning checklist for your PC.  Part 1: Cleaning the Hardware Clean Computer Fan

How exactly to do this depends on your computer model. I recommend searching Google and YouTube and I’m sure you’ll find instructions. Generally, you can expose your computer’s fans and then use a vacuum cleaner or canned air to remove the dust and a damp cloth to wipe it off. Do the same for the intake grilles and vents. DO NOT REMOVE the heatsink unless you are ready to replace the thermal paste!

If you have a laptop, check out this article as well: How to fix an overheating laptop

4. Clean your LCD monitor

Cleaning a modern LCD screen is not the same as cleaning an outdated CRT monitor. This is because CRTs are covered with glass, while LCDs have a softer plastic surface. To clean your LCD without damaging it, you’ll need a lint-free cloth, distilled water (for dust) or isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar (for grease stains), and a bottle, ideally a spray bottle. Spray the cloth with water or a 1:1 mixture of isopropyl alcohol: water. Then gently wipe the screen with a damp cloth.

clean my computer

For detailed instructions and additional tips, see this article: The Best Way to Clean LCD Screens Effectively

What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

Whatever electronic equipment you clean, don’t clean it while it’s on! Turn off the device and disconnect the power supply. Do not use dripping wet sponges or wipes. Use wet wipes and alcohol-based cleaners as they dry faster. Do not attempt to disassemble the device unless you are sure you can put it back together. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual or instructions.

Do you regularly clean your equipment? Have any tips to share with us? What did I forget to mention?

Image credit: Gloved hand with sponges via Shutterstock, Cleaning a computer mouse via Shutterstock, Cooling fan in a laptop via Shutterstock, Woman cleaning a computer via Shutterstock

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