Regularly cleaning the PC should be a matter of course for every user. We'll tell you what is important and which mistakes should be avoided.
Why clean the PC?
Apart from the fact that a dirty computer is not a pretty sight, too much dust inside the device can impair its performance. PCs with powerful processors and especially graphics cards inevitably run hot during operation and therefore have to be actively cooled. In the vast majority of cases, this is done by introducing air, and this usually also brings with it dust that is deposited inside the computer.
Dust that is deposited on sensitive components or on fans can then make the air supply more difficult and even increase the development of heat. The consequence is an earlier throttling of processor or graphics performance due to excessively high temperatures. In addition, very high temperatures can shorten the service life of individual components.
Clean the PC case and dust filter
Let's start with the housing. A dusty and dirty exterior is not nice to look at. It is therefore advisable to regularly go over the case with the dust rag and not to forget the back. This is where most of the connections and various ventilation outlets are usually located, where dust quickly collects, which is blown through the housing and out again by the fans.
Many PC cases have dust filters in places where fresh air is drawn into the chassis by the fans. These logically serve to catch the majority of the dust so that it does not even get inside. However, this has the consequence that the dust filters clog quickly and have to be cleaned regularly, otherwise they will no longer let enough air through. A compressed air spray, a dust rag or vacuuming with a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment are best suited for this.
If the dust filters can be easily removed, you can even clean them with water. Just make sure they are completely dry before you put them back in.
Clean the PC interior and fan
Let's get to the inside of the pc. Before you open the computer, you have to unplug it in any case. You should ground yourself once, for example by grasping an unpainted piece of heating pipe with your hand. Alternatively, you can put on rubber gloves or do all of the work on a rubberized pad.
How much dust has settled in your PC at which places depends on when you last cleaned it and how the components are arranged. Experience has shown that most of the dust settles on the fan blades – directly on the case fans, the processor cooler and the ventilation inlets of the graphics card. The power supply unit also often has an air inlet where dust is deposited.
For rough cleaning, you can again use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, but set the device to a low suction level. You can remove stubborn dust with a compressed air spray, for the heavily soiled areas you can use cotton swabs or an unused toothbrush. Make sure, however, that you really remove the dust and do not distribute it further in the housing. Use one or two cotton swabs per fan blade.
If the fans inside the computer are too dirty, you should remove them and clean them thoroughly. When removing the processor heat sink, make sure that new thermal paste has to be distributed on the processor afterwards. The reinsertion should be done with as even pressure as possible, otherwise the sensitive pins on the underside of the processor could bend.
For dust that settles on the mainboard and other sensitive components, cotton swabs and toothbrushes are forbidden. Here you should only work with compressed air spray to blow away the dirt.
Since you are currently inside the PC anyway, you should also check the cables. Especially when they are in the middle of the air flow, dust is also deposited on them. You can simply wipe it off with a dust rag. Ideally, however, you should have laid the cables in the computer so that they are not in the air flow between the inlet and outlet fans.
Clean the mouse and keyboard
The PC usually includes two accessories that we always have in hand: a mouse and a keyboard. Fortunately, both can be easily cleaned with wet wipes. Every now and then you can even use water or at least a damp cloth, contrary to popular belief, many mice and keyboards are very well waterproof. They should only be unplugged for cleaning or removed from batteries and completely dried after cleaning. In order to free the spaces between the keys of the keyboard from dust and dirt, compressed air spray is recommended.
You should clean the mouse and keyboard about every two to four weeks – but at the latest when visible dirt is deposited on them.
Clean the monitor
Cleaning the monitor is one of the toughest things about cleaning your PC. A microfiber cloth helps against dust. But when it comes to stuck stains or splatters, things get more complicated. In any case, you should disconnect the monitor from the power supply before cleaning and then carefully clean dirty areas with wet wipes or a special cleaning set for LC displays. Classic glass cleaners, on the other hand, do not do much and only leave ugly streaks on the plastic cover of the monitor.
Under no circumstances should liquid run under the cover of the display, as this could damage the panel. Too much pressure can also damage the screen.
How often should the PC be cleaned?
If the PC is to run reliably over the long term, we recommend cleaning the interior at least once a year. After this time, the components should not be excessively dirty, so that cleaning should not be too time-consuming. From the outside, regular dusting is recommended as part of general house cleaning.
You should clean the mouse and keyboard about every two to four, as this is where most of the germs and bacteria collect. When it comes to the monitor, it depends on how dirty it is. Visible spots quickly become annoying and are a good indication that it is time to clean the screen again.