Learning how to clean your computer is important, and it could help keep your gaming PC from getting dusty and things going fast. Choosing the right PC case and cable routing in your system helps, but you still need to roll up your sleeves and scrub the inside from time to time. Implementing a good PC hygiene strategy will ensure your computer looks great, but also helps increase fps and maintain peak performance while running the latest Steam games.
If you have researched how to clean your computer, you’ll probably know it’s not like cleaning your room. Removing physical dust, dirt, and grime from your gaming PC requires special care, especially when your system is powered by the best graphics card. Cleaning your machine may feel daunting and tedious, but it’s also a rewarding process that should help your parts live longer – an invaluable boon when you consider the cost given the ongoing component shortages.
To help you thoroughly clean your computer, we’ve put together a handy guide to cleaning your computer, including the tools and steps needed to polish up your PC. We’ll even give you some tips on how to clean your hard drive and SSD, as digital dirt can be just as problematic as the dirt inside your case.
How to clean your computer.
Tools to clean your computer
Before embarking on an electronic dust removal escapade, it’s a good idea to get the tools to clean your computer beforehand. Not only does this ensure you have the right weapons to take on the filthy interior of your gaming PC, but you also don’t have to improvise – something that could pose a risk to your device.
Here’s what you need to clean your PC:
- compressed air
- cotton buds (cotton buds)
- isopropyl alcohol
- microfiber towels
- face mask
If you’re planning on dusting your PC around the house, it’s a good idea to ditch some old sheets. You’ll be surprised at how much dust and dirt there is in your machine, as there are plenty of nooks and crannies for dust bunnies to hide.
Using compressed air will help you blast compacted dirt from its hiding place, while using cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol as a means to clean delicate parts like your expensive gaming motherboard.
Clean the inside of your computer
When it comes to cleaning your PC, you should start from the inside, as dirt could get inside-out during the process. That way you won’t spoil your efforts by soiling the outside of your rig.
To clean the inside of your gaming PC case:
- Put on a face mask
- Turn off your PC and unplug all cables
- Place your PC in a flat, ventilated place
- Remove the side panels and fan filters of your PC case
- Use short bursts of compressed air to blow dust off filters
- Wipe any dirt off the filters with a microfiber cloth
- Repeat the same steps for the inside walls and bottom of your PC case
To handle a rig with years of dust buildup, you need to get your components out of your case. This is essentially the opposite of how to build a gaming PC, meaning you should take similar precautions when handling your expensive parts.
You should also do this on a large, flat surface, but make sure you put something down to prevent your gaming desk from suffering cosmetic injuries. Once you’ve removed your parts from your rig, you can start making them look shiny and new again.
How to clean your motherboard and PC parts:
- Use short bursts of compressed air to remove larger clumps of dust from your motherboard and graphics card
- Dip a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol and gently clean the surface of your motherboard and other sensitive areas
- To clean your fans, keep them still and use compressed air to blow away any stuck dust
- Wipe down your PC cables with a microfiber cloth
It’s worth noting that the PSU case may collect dust, but think twice before opening one. Not only does this potentially void your warranty, but it is potentially dangerous to tinker with in high-voltage parts. We recommend simply cleaning your power supply with compressed air without opening it, as you’d be surprised how far you can get without breaking the case.
Once you’re happy with your cleaning efforts, it’s time to reassemble your device and put your side panels and fan filters back in place. If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to use a flashlight to inspect your work and pick up any spots you’ve missed. However, it’s impossible to completely eliminate dust forever, so it’s best to come to terms with the fact that you’ll be doing all of this again in the future.
Cleaning the outside of your computer
Cleaning the outside of your device isn’t as complicated as the inside, but the finishing touches can help your gaming PC shine. Keeping your computer’s case in tip-top shape will also prevent dust from entering your case, which might make the whole process easier next time.
To clean your computer case:
- Use short bursts of compressed air to blow dust out of burrs and crevices
- Wipe down your PC with a microfiber cloth, including removed side panels
- If your case has a glass panel, spray a small amount of glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and wipe in a circular motion
If you have the idea of detailing the best PC case like a car then there are a few optional extra steps you can take. While we don’t recommend using particularly strong detergents or solvents, adding a tiny spray of furniture polish to your microfiber towel can rejuvenate your rig and help prevent dust build-up.
How to clean your hard drive
Now that you’ve cleaned up your PC, it’s time to start thinking about cleaning up its digital section. Taking the time to clean your hard drive or SSD makes all the difference, especially when you want everything to run smoothly. Thankfully, sanitizing your digital space doesn’t require a lot of muscle, and most of the tools you need are built into operating systems like Windows 11.
First, let’s remove potentially unwanted files and programs from your PC. If you use a pre-built machine, you may find that it’s already clogged with software you don’t need. With that in mind, here’s how to uninstall programs on Windows 10 and later.
- Using the Windows taskbar search tool, navigate to “Storage Settings”.
- Click Apps & Features at the top of the page.
- Click the Sort By filter at the top and select Install Date.
- Go through your app list and remove any programs you no longer need
Windows Storage Management can also help you identify unneeded files, folders, and apps so you can quickly free up storage space. This can be useful if you’re using one of the smaller best SSDs for gaming options, as you don’t have to do much to get new Steam games onto your drive.
Plus, you can also ward off nasty digital germs with built-in Windows security. Unless you’re using a third-party security suite like McAfee or Norton, “Virus & Threat Protection” should already be enabled.
To turn on Windows 11 security:
- Navigate to the Windows Security app using Windows search
- On the Virus & Threat Protection page, select Manage Settings.
- You will be presented with various services, including real-time protection
- Make sure each function with the green switches is turned on
Windows 11 is now on the lookout for malicious files and software and regularly scans your drive for digital dirt.
What can I clean my computer with?
It may seem obvious, but you should also be careful when using water-based cleaning solutions. You can use soap and water to clean particularly dirty PC cases once you’ve removed components, but you need to take extra care to ensure everything is dry before reassembling it. Of course, you should clean electrical components with something like 99% isopropyl alcohol rather than a household cleaner, as this will help keep residual moisture and chemicals from damaging your parts.
Can I vacuum my computer?
Refreshing your PC might seem easy enough, but there are a few things to avoid when attempting to clean your computer. As tempting as it may be, do not reach for your vacuum as using one could create static electricity and damage your parts. The best way to remove layers of dust and compacted dirt is to use a can of compressed air or an electric duster designed for computer cleaning.
How often should I clean my PC?
You should clean your PC regularly, but how often depends on various factors. If you have pets or use your computer in a dusty environment, your computer will end up accumulating more dirt than usual. Of course, vacuuming and polishing your room floors and surfaces will get rid of dust particles before they reach your rig. On top of that, you should take a look inside your build every few months and clean things up lightly.
How to keep dust off your computer
Dust is one of life’s domestic problems and it can be difficult to keep it away from your gaming PC. Using the best PC fans is a great way to prevent dust build-up, as creating positive pressure inside your case will help suck out debris. If your cooling configuration is creating negative pressure, it could be sucking in more air and debris – a compromise often made to drop CPU and GPU temperatures by a few degrees.